On Friday June 14th there was a special event at the Tiki Room for it's 50th anniversary. Special guests were Bob Gurr, Marty Sklar, Maggie Elliott and the one and only, Richard Sherman. As a Disney fan I've known them for years as only a face in a picture or a name in a book, but to see them in person was such a rare and honored treat for any Disney fan.
The event had two showings, one for lunch and one for dinner. In both cases it began in Club 33 where there was a 5 course, 5-star meal.
Pictured below, a lot of happy Tiki-themed people waiting to get in. Thanks to decades of being a serious Weird Al Yankovic fan I had plenty of Hawaiian shirts to pick from. I shouldn't necessarily be proud of that. As we entered we were all given a flower lei.
The five course meal had a very Tiki flavor to it.
...starting with a Malibu rum and taro chips
moving onto some Ahi Poke ( and more rum - I like this place )
grilled chicken breast in curried coconut ( I already ate the sesame seaweed THEN thought to get a pic. Oops. )
roast pork w/ maui onion ring and pineapple infused wine ( did I mention I really like this place? )
and finally a poi pudding with a slice of dried banana and pretty much the best cup of coffee I've ever had. Mind you, this is a Club 33 cup of coffee so it's pretty fricken' fantastic.
After dinner our host Tim O'Day asked Bob, Marty and Maggie to share some thoughts with us about the Tiki Room. Stories about Walt and what he wanted originally, stories about how much it changed from original concept to finished product, and what expectations were put upon them. The whole experience was really a testament to "can do" attitude. if a job had to be done, they just said "yes" and then figured it out on the fly, a history that Imagineering is known for.
There were some amusing stories about how Wally Boag came to the voice he chose for the Barker bird Juan and ultimately the first bird in the show, Jose.
Maggie talked about how they had to try various different materials for the expanding chest sections of the birds. Anything would work for a short time but finding the long-term solution was the real trick. Other effects were made by reversing the directions that feathers naturally go on a bird to give it different animations and actions.
Some concept art of was on display for Walt's original idea for a Tiki themed restaurant, ultimately discarded because Walt realized that no one would ever want to leave the place after a meal. Just look at the place! I wouldn't! I'd sit in there all day just watching everything.
Finally we made our way to the Tiki Room where we were let in to see Richard Sherman. It was so odd to be in here and see one whole section of benches gone and replaced by a baby grand. Truth be told, I doubt I'll ever see this room the same again knowing where Richard sat and sang.
Richard shared some history about how he and Robert wrote for Annette Funicello and speculated that her song Pineapple Princess is probably what made their name pop into Walt's head first when it came time for a Tiki Room song. He sang the following songs for us:
I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)
Colonel Hathi's March
There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
Feed the Birds
It's a Small World
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ( which apparently he and his daughter can also sing backwards. Try it the next time you think you're up to it. Good luck! )
Tiki Town ( a song cut from Mary Poppins )
Chimpanzoo ( which was also cut from Mary Poppins but used the same melody as Tiki Town )
I'm not great at pics of video but here's a little sample of how things went:
Tim surprised the audience ( and maybe Richard as well ) by requesting he play Happy Birthday for a special person. ....himself. Richard's 85th birthday was June 12th, just one day after my own. Richard was joined by Mickey Mouse for a round of Happy Birthday and then we all sat and watched a round of the famous Tiki Room show.
As we left, there was a gift for us all. Everyone received a framed feather and flower from the Tiki room. A card on the back stated what part of the attraction it had come from.
And then, just for kicks we got in the Ectomobile and drove around Anaheim. Some passersby snapped some pics of us picking up a friend in the Downtown Disney parking lot. It doesn't really factor into an event report on the Tiki Room anniversary but hey,... I'm driving around Disneyland in the Ectomobile. You celebrate your birthday your way, I'll do it my way.