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  1. #1

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    The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    American Heritage has a great article about how South Pacific "Tiki Culture" took off in the post World War II era, beginning with the rum drinks invented by "Don the Beachcomber", to Trader Vics, with a healthy boost by James Michener, Thor Heyerdahl, Rogers and Hammerstein, and Elvis. Tiki artifacts, old and new, are making a big comeback. The article states:

    "Disneyland [then] opened in 1955, and among its first rides was a Jungle Cruise", in which boats drifted through tropical scenes; a few years later the park's creator presented an attraction called the Enchanted Tiki Room, where 225 birds chattered and danced among "tiki gods" named Kor, Maui, Pele, Rongo, Tangaroa and Tangaroa-Ru (this was Disney's first use of "Audio Animatronic" figures.) ..."

    Great article, and reminds all of us that Tiki culture, like the Swiss and other European influences of Fantasyland, and the westerns that inspired Frontierland, was very much a product of the 1950s and the culture shock(s) of the decade just before it.

  2. #2

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    Nice piece. I've always enjoyed the Tiki Culture, of which you speak/compose.

    Cool.

  3. #3

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    Iím glad itís making a comeback, as I enjoy the Tiki culture quite a bit.

    At first, I thought it was the rum drinks that sucked me in, but then I remembered how much I love the Tiki Room, and there are no rum drinks there.

    However, a fresh Dole Whip on a hot day can be almost as intoxicatingÖ

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    Lovin' it

    I've had this love-affair with Tiki Culture for the past few years. So needless to say I was UBER excited when I saw all the great Shag Art swag for the 50th!


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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    I had a Tiki Room birthday party in June. When I was researching I found that there are some Tiki road guide books. I think Shag illustrated one or two of them. Some people just do entirely Tiki-themed road trips to find different Tiki bars/restaurants/hotels/signs. One day I'll do that Most of the places look very 50s. Not many Tiki places are new. Also there is a full-on Tiki store near me in Costa Mesa on Newport Blvd (across from Triangle Square).

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)


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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    I'm enthralled with the period during and just after WWII. Not the war part, but the lifestyle part. So much of Disneyland reflects just that. The Tiki culture is a part of that, with the excitement of the annexation of Hawaii as a state. A comeback is nice, but I'm curious to see what of pop culture will stand out and be definitive of our times.

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    There's Minnie's in Modesto, that still has Tikis in front with a beach like setting. Also A Tiki Bar down the street, as well.
    http://www.critiki.com/cgi-bin/location.cgi?loc_id=108
    Here's the link to the restaurant and a whole bunch of other Tiki related businesses.
    Last edited by Alchimedes; 10-13-2006 at 12:12 AM.
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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    Thank you for the heads-up! I'm a very big fan of mid-century culture and tiki culture is a significant aspect of that! I hope I can still get this issue at B&N. It has an article about Nat Turner's Rebellion as well, so it looks like a really superb issue.

    However, tiki culture has BEEN "making a comeback" for at least the past 10 years. Most notably is the Tiki "bible" - Sven Kirsten's The Book of Tiki. Hanford Lemoore's Tiki Room website, including their popular message board Tiki Central, have been popular hangouts for tiki collectors and enthusiasts for years. The interest in tiki culture is connected in some respects to the relatively short-lived but fervent swing music revival of the mid-to-late 90s as well as the general interest in and revival of all things retro: Googie architecture, Cold War-era films, classic TV shows, exotica and swing music (including the Rat Pack), neo-film noir, drive-in movie theaters, etc. They're all tied together, mostly because so much of that time period has disappeared in today's world, often having been demolished or tossed aside and forgotten, in order to make way for yet another bland corporate cookie-cutter whatsit. In many respects, much of midcentury culture is a case of "that which was old is new again."

    Speaking of which, anyone remember the old Kono Hawaii Restaurant, at 226 S. Harbor Blvd., near the intersection of Harbor and First Street in Santa Ana? It's been gone for around a decade or so now (No Doubt played there around 1992), but it was once a perfect real-life example of tiki culture, being in the same realm as the old Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland was.


  10. #10

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    I wrote a 7-page term paper Sophomore year in high school on Polynesian Pop and Tiki Culture - a spent a page talking about Disney's interest in tiki and the eventual development of the Tiki Room, which helped tread the way for future Audio-Animatronic attractions.

    I'm a sophomore in college now... that paper was a over 4 years ago now... (yikes!)
    Probably the most fun I've ever had writing a term paper, and I got an A on it as well.

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  11. #11

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    Quote Originally Posted by Janie View Post
    anyone remember the old Kono Hawaii Restaurant, at 226 S. Harbor Blvd., near the intersection of Harbor and First Street in Santa Ana? It's been gone for around a decade or so now (No Doubt played there around 1992), but it was once a perfect real-life example of tiki culture, being in the same realm as the old Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland was.
    This Southland old timer remembers it well (having dined there many times). But FYI, there was a direct and strong connection between the Kono Hawaii and the Tahitian Terrace's creation. And that connection was the Kono's head chef...Hideo "Indian" Aramaki...who Disney hired away from the Kono to come to Disneyland and help create the Tahitian Terrace and it's menu.

    So the Tahitian Terrace was not only "in the same realm"...it was practically a direct sibling!

    Not only was Indian the Tahitian Terrace's first Executive Chef...but Walt was so impressed by the man, that he quickly appointed him Executive Chef of the entire Park! A really great and talented gentleman. Many a now famous chef "learned the ropes" under Indian's careful and encouraging eye.

    BTW...Walt noticed that Cast Members were always calling Hideo by his nickname, "Indian." Walt thought that he might be a Native American Indian and one day asked Hideo what was up with the nickname. Hideo told Walt about how he was of Japanese ancestry and was born and raised in Hawaii, and that he got the nickname because he played semi-pro for the Cleveland Indians baseball team for a couple of years, and that he loved the nickname.

    Well...Walt liked the man and loved the story, so he ordered Hideo a new name tag with "Indian" on it and presented it to Hideo saying, "Well...we might as well make it official!" And he was known simply as "Indian" by everyone, ever since. At the time, he was the only Disneyland Cast Member to ever have been allowed a nickname on his nametag.

    Last edited by Opus1guy; 10-12-2006 at 07:34 AM.

  12. #12

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    Of related interest, see this thread.
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  13. #13

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    I agree that this was a very interesting era and would love to see the come back a little more prominently, especially in Disneyland. I love Adventureland and hope that one day the rumors about the Tahitian Terrace reopening will actually come true.
    Last edited by LlamaLover; 10-12-2006 at 01:40 PM.

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    Re: The "Tiki Culture" of the 1950s (and today)

    Quote Originally Posted by FrumiousBoojum View Post
    Of related interest, see this thread.
    The Kahiki was the ultimate. I still cannot believe they actually closed it down and let it be demolished. That was just criminal.

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