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Dog Days? Not! In the Tiki Room, Every Bird Has Its Say

posted on August 15th, 2011 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

With Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opening today in Adventureland of Magic Kingdom Park, a bit of fascinating (or perhaps bird-brained) history is hereby hatched…

Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room at Magic Kingdom Park

Walt Disney’s world had gone to the birds (sorry, Pluto) long before 1963 when José, Fritz, Michael and Pierre – four parrots – began wisecracking and crooning in Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland Resort.

For instance, several Silly Symphony cartoons of the early 1930s celebrated Walt’s winged friends – Birds of a Feather (1931), The Bird Store (1932) and Birds in the Spring (1933).

In 1939, birds helped Snow White with the housework. In 1942, birds of the forest flitted around Bambi. In 1950, bird friends helped primp Cinderella for the royal ball.

Clearly, Walt’s cinematic creativity was for the birds. (Buh-duh-bump!)

In the midst of all the creativity showcased on film, Walt traveled to France. While shopping, his eyes beheld a bird in a gilded cage, chirping and singing, its beak moving. But this bird was alive only through mechanical invention.

He bought the bird in the gilded cage, an item that to most people would be a conversation piece for a living room mantle. For Walt Disney, though, this bird perhaps held the secret of breathing three-dimensional life into the birds and bees and all the rest of the beings that populated his animated motion pictures.

So he put the bird in the gilded cage in the care of his “Imagineers” to figure out what made it chirp and move … and thus began the quest that would reach a milestone on June 23, 1963, with the opening of the Tiki Room at Disneyland park. The show is regarded as the first Audio-Animatronics production.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room at Walt Disney World Resort pays tribute to the original Disneyland show, maintaining the original intent created by Walt Disney and his original team of Imagineers. At the same time, it features some modern technology – a state of the art show-control system, remastered audio, and a new versatile and energy-efficient lighting system.

José, Fritz, Michael and Pierre and their tropical friends – more than 200 birds, flowers and tikis – come to life daily in Adventureland, at show times throughout the Magic Kingdom Park operating day.

As for the bird in the gilded cage? My contacts at Imagineering tell me there actually are two gilded cages, one at the Disney archives in California, the other on display in One Man’s Dream at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Josés of a Different Feather

posted on August 14th, 2011 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

The upcoming opening of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland of Magic Kingdom (scheduled for August 15) got me thinking about one of the four wisecracking, crooning parrots that will host the show — José.

Walt Disney and José

I wondered if José is an Audio-Animatronics manifestation of José Carioca from the 1944 film The Three Caballeros. None other than Disney Legend Dave Smith has answered that question: “No!” The two Josés aren’t even the same species. José in the Tiki Room is a macaw while José Carioca is a Brazilian parrot.

None other than Disney Legend Wally Boag gave voice to Tiki Bird José. Wally, who recently passed away, blasted audiences with squirt guns, spit out a mouthful of “teeth,” and sculpted whimsical animals out of colorful balloons five days a week, three times a day, for nearly 27 years at the Golden Horseshoe Revue in Disneyland park.

As for José Carioca: He’s currently entertaining guests at Epcot in Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion.

Which gets me to wondering: Just how many birds are there entertaining guests in the Disney Parks? Well, let’s see …

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Night of Joy Stars Win Big at Dove Awards

posted on April 30th, 2011 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

We shared earlier about the lineup that will be performing at Night of Joy 2011. The “Headliners” at the official website are certainly worthy of the honor – newsboys, Jeremy Camp and Skillet on Sept. 9, 2011, and MercyMe, TobyMac and Jars of Clay on Sept. 10, 2011. But the headlines today belong to artists among the other 10 Night of Joy acts – particularly Francesca Battistelli and Chris August.

Night of Joy Stars Win Big at Dove Awards

Between them, Francesca and Chris have piled up six Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, including some of the biggest: Francesca was tabbed Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year; Chris was honored with New Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.

In all, Night of Joy 2011 artists were awarded 11 Doves. The musical diversity of Night of Joy – and the superb caliber of the lineup – was underscored by the fact that artists were presented “recorded song of the year” in three categories and “album of the year” in four categories. The honored categories: Contemporary Gospel, Rap/Hip Hop, Pop/Contemporary, Rock, and Rock/Contemporary.

Somewhere up there, Sonny Anderson, our long-ago talent booking guru who helped launch Night of Joy in 1983 with an eye on pleasing the ears of people with lots of different music tastes, has to be smiling. His little Christian music party is still filling Magic Kingdom Park nights with a lot of amazing sounds.

You can learn more about this year’s event at Tickets go on sale May 1.

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Bring in March with a Milk Moustache and a PB&J Smile

posted on March 1st, 2011 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

Depending upon where you are, March either comes in “like a lion” or “like a lamb.” But no matter where you are, March is National Peanut Month.

Bring in March with a Milk Moustache and a PB&J Smile

Which brings us to a story about how “your father loves his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so your mom decided to make him a PB&J milk shake to treat him on warm days.” If you’ve heard that story, chances are it was someone with a name such as “Aunt Mabel” spinning the tale, and you were seated at a kitchenette table with an old-fashioned black-and-white TV that was replaying snippets of shows from long ago.

Bring in March with a Milk Moustache and a PB&J Smile

You were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in a restaurant called 50’s Prime Time Café, and you had inquired about milk shake flavors. “Aunt Mabel” (your server) was explaining a choice called the Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake, which has been available since the park opened in 1989.

If you are like me, (1) you love milk shakes, (2) rich chocolate malt is your favorite variety, and (3) the first time you heard about the Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake, you experienced a sudden and profound loss of appetite.

But, if you’re like me, you survived your bad reaction to the thought of a perfectly good milk shake occasion being ruined by PB&J … and you ordered one.

And, if you’re like me, you now have a new second-favorite flavor of milk shake – the PB&J (behind, of course, a rich chocolate malt – I’m drooling!).

Bring in March with a Milk Moustache and a PB&J Smile

There’s a fascinating story behind the PB&J milk shake – and it has nothing to do with your father. It has everything to do with the food & beverage people being challenged to “think outside the box” as they created mealtime items for the new park. One of the chefs, eyeing swirled peanut butter and jelly, thought “inside the jar,” spooned a glob of it into the milk shake mixer along with ice cream and milk, blended it and put it in front of top management.

When the result was both a milk moustache and a smile, a Studios specialty was born.

My attempt to replicate the PB&J shake at home without consulting with the F&B people did not have the same result. Uncertain about the amount of peanut butter to include, I unwittingly crafted a “beverage” that stuck to the roof of my mouth.

You can avoid that mistake by using this Disney kitchen-tested recipe:

2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons grape jelly
2 cups vanilla ice cream
¼ cup milk

  • Blend ingredients until smooth and thick
  • Add additional peanut butter or jelly to taste
  • Make one “PB&J milk shake-lover” very happy!
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THE ORCHESTRA ~ Featuring Former Members of ELO, Coming to Epcot

posted on February 18th, 2011 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

How’s this for a Friday night date – dinner and a show featuring The Orchestra at Epcot. It’s a possibility on one night only – February 25.

THE ORCHESTRA ~ featuring former members of ELO is going to play three shows at America Gardens Theatre that evening, at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. You can queue up for a seat with regular Epcot admission.

The Orchestra ~ Featuring Former Members of ELO, Coming to Epcot

The Orchestra brings with it a heritage of symphonic rock hit-making dating to the early 1970s. Don’t know about you, but for me the original Electric Light Orchestra was one of my favorite “plays” back in the day. Certainly there were some others – like ELO, from across the pond – that convinced me all rock was not created equal; that some rock was genuinely music to my ears. (I’d mention some other performers, but I’m betting you might actually like to do the name-dropping.)

As for The Orchestra, all six players were part of ELO Part II, which was put together by former Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan in the late 1980s. Gordon Townsend, who’s coming to Epcot, inherited the sticks when Bev disbanded ELO Part II and The Orchestra was formed in 2000.

Two of the players coming to Disney – Mik Kaminski (the famous “Blue Violin”) and keyboardist Louis Clark – were part of the scene back in the 1970s during the time of the original Electric Light Orchestra.

They also had a role in my personal favorite ELO project, “Out of the Blue.”

Here’s hoping February 25 brings blue skies and “Mr. Blue Sky” to Epcot!

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‘PeopleMover’ is Coming Back at Walt Disney World

posted on August 5th, 2010 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

Not sure whether it’s a case of back to the future or forward to the past or the past meets the present, but: a long-running Tomorrowland attraction is getting a new (well, sort of new) name …

As of today, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, the “super skyway” that allows guests a glimpse of a variety of attractions in Tomorrowland of Magic Kingdom, will be renamed Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.

The ride opened in 1975 as the WEDway PeopleMover. It has been called Tomorrowland Transit Authority since 1994.

The ride technology, which uses pollution-free linear induction motors, was developed by WED Enterprises (that’s what Disney Imagineering was called back in the day) and was introduced at Disneyland in California in 1967. While the attraction at Disneyland has long been closed, there is a place other than Walt Disney World Resort where guests can experience an application of the WED technology. Any guesses as to where?

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Flavors of Club Cool at Epcot

posted on July 14th, 2010 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

Club Cool

It’s that time of year when I look longingly as little kids abandon their shoes and run around getting soaked by the pop-up fountains at Epcot. For a whimsy-filled nanosecond I consider joining in the frolic. Ultimately, though, I leave “being a kid” … to kids: I can’t abandon my adult inhibitions!

So what’s a person to do: It’s sunny, and “warm” was fifteen degrees ago?

Well, one of my alternatives to acting like a kid by jumping into a fountain is a little spot in Innoventions at Epcot called Club Cool. It’s a place that sells Coca-Cola logo merchandise and “brain freeze” via frozen Coke.

But there’s also a “World Showcase kind of adventure” in Club Cool that doesn’t cost a penny and is a great thing to do on sultry summer days. It’s the fountains that dispense Coca-Cola products from other parts of the world. Here are the choices:

  • Krest Ginger Ale from Mozambique
  • Fanta Kolita from Costa Rica
  • Beverly from Italy
  • Vegeta Beta from Japan
  • Kinley Lemon from Israel
  • Lift Apple from Mexico
  • Smart Watermelon from China
  • Mezzo Mix from Germany

My favorites are Lift Apple and Smart Watermelon – which are usually in high demand and can run out on busy days. If I’d heard Club Cool was out of Beverly, though, THAT would surprise me (enough said about that!).

When I was in Club Cool a couple of weeks ago, I overheard other guests lamenting that the “pours” (as they called them) were so large. They truly were going on a world tasting adventure and just wanted a sip. As for me: I was going back for seconds of those wonderful drinks from Mexico and China.

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Night of Joy Artists Come Up ‘Huge’ at Dove Awards

posted on April 27th, 2010 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

Night of Joy

In other areas of the Disney company, people hope for “a big night at the Oscars.” At Walt Disney World, the wish is for “a big night at the Doves.”

The Dove Awards, presented by the Gospel Music Association, honor the best music, performances and performers in Christian music. Inasmuch as Disney World hosts Night of Joy, one of the country’s best-known contemporary Christian music events, there’s a hope each spring that the artists coming to Night of Joy do well at the Doves.

Well, Night of Joy 2010 artists had a HUGE night at the Doves! Nine of the 15 artists who’ll be performing at the Magic Kingdom Sept. 10-11 figured in 10 Dove Awards –- including four of the biggest honors:

  • Casting Crowns won Artist of the Year
  • Francesca Battistelli won Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Sidewalk Prophets won New Artist of the Year
  • 10th Avenue North’s “By Your Side” won Song of the Year

Other Night of Joy 2010 artists who figured in Dove Awards are Group 1 Crew, Smokie Norful, Red, David Crowder*Band and Third Day’s Mac Powell.

Tickets for Night of Joy go on sale May 1. There’s more information about the event at

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