Entries in the 'Orlando' Category

August 26, 2006

My Travels: Walt Disney World

Filed under: Disney,My Travels,Orlando,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:38 pm
Adventureland at Walt Disney World
Adventureland at Walt Disney World

Ah, another August goes shooting by. Earlier in the month, I was in Internet-free Downieville, a wee little almost-ghost-town a few hours from pretty much anything, in the Sierras. It’s very pretty, but it ain’t tiki, so that’s all I’ve got to say about it here.

After that, we headed out to Walt Disney World for a whole week. My two previous trips to WDW have been woefully short, and the last one was curtailed by an unfortunate double-whammy of a terrible cold and an asshole who thought it would be funny to s#!t all over Tiki Central, requiring us to spend the day in the hotel room doing emergency cleanup duty. But this was a much happier trip — a whole, solid week, happily unencumbered by illness or delinquents. Even with that much time, we felt we had about a week more in us — there was still so much to see and to do. It was hard to leave.

The reason for our trip — not that it really would take a reason to bring us to a Disney park — was to visit with some old friends from Hanford’s LucasArts days, who are now working on an R & D Imagineering project at Epcot. The project was being tested with the public, and we came out to be guinea pigs, and to spend some quality time with them. The project is called Team Possible (based on the Kim Possible animated series on the Disney Channel), and it’s an interactive all-over-the-park game that uses a handheld “Kimmunicator” (actually, a high-end cellphone) to send you on a scavenger hunt of sorts. I don’t want to give away any more than that, but I will say that it was really fun, even though we’re not acquainted with Kim Possible. It was very well-integrated into World Showcase, so that anyone not playing the game would never know there was anything new there. It was a great way to see the park, and we saw all sorts of things we otherwise would have missed. Our experience was great, and hopefully they’ll use the concepts and technology they had in this test for a more permanent game of some sort. If you’d like to know more, keep an eye on Hanford Lemoore’s blog, he’ll likely be making a more detailed post about it soon.

Pre-show lanai at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Orlando
Pre-show lanai at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Orlando
Pre-show tiki at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Orlando
Pre-show tiki

But on to the tiki… we passed on seeing the Enchanted Tiki Room show there (the “Under New Management” version there is painful, simply painful, watch it at your own risk), but we did spend some time at the building it’s housed in. The building itself is very impressive, and full of delicate details — and, the lanai plays Exotica classics in a loop, including Martin Denny. The pre-show on the lanai is very different from the one in Anaheim, but there are a few of the Anaheim lanai tikis to be seen there. In addition, the entrance to Adventureland has a number of great tikis and shields, and there are some fantastic tall slit-drum tikis that spit water near the Enchanted Tiki Room.

'Ohana restaurant at the Polynesian Resort
‘Ohana restaurant at the Polynesian Resort
Tikis and carved poles at the Polynesian Resort
Tikis and carved poles
at the Polynesian Resort

The best Polynesian Pop to be seen at Walt Disney World is at the Polynesian Resort, near the Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian Resort has been there since WDW first opened in October 1971. It’s a large resort, with over 800 rooms in 11 different “longhouses” named after Polynesian islands. The pool area has a volcano with a built-in water slide. The main building houses ‘Ohana restaurant (which also has a bar, serving tropical drinks including a Tropical Itch, complete with backscratcher), and has some neat tikis, masks, war clubs and other carvings, and plenty of bamboo. The hotel also has a luau and Polynesian floor show, called Spirit of Aloha, in one corner of the grounds.

Bar at 'Ohana restaurant
Bar at ‘Ohana restaurant

That’s about it for tiki at Walt Disney World… should I also mention the nearly-tiki stuff? (Shades eyes with back of hand) Wait a minute… (folds ring finger down) I love that idea.

Typhoon Lagoon
Typhoon Lagoon

There are two more things at Walt Disney World that are not quite tiki, but tiki-friendly, to be sure: Typhoon Lagoon, and the Adventurer’s Club. Typhoon Lagoon is one of WDW’s two water parks, and it has a well-executed shipwreck theme. The vegetation is thick, and vintage surf tunes are played throughout the park, except for the fish & chips bar (where they sold “fish & chips w/fries” — no joke), which plays great sea shanties. Who doesn’t love a good sea shanty? The Adventurer’s Club is one of the nightclubs in Downtown Disney, and is themed as a 1937 private club for, well, adventurers. A crew of talented improv comedians mingle and entertain through the whole evening, putting on periodic shows. The walls are positively encrusted with dusty artifacts, including a few tikis, and even a decidedly post-1937 pupu platter in the Treasure Room.

Adventurer's Club
Adventurer’s Club

I could go on and on about all the great things at Walt Disney World (Expedition Everest is beautiful! Canada is a lifetime journey for the traveller! Mocking Steven Tyler is fun!), but I won’t. Instead, take a gander at photos from my trip, and check out the updated entries on Critiki.

April 9, 2006

Re-Imagineering on WDW’s Enchanted Tiki Room

Filed under: Disney,Orlando,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:57 pm
The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management at Walt Disney World, photo by Humuhumu
The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management at Walt Disney World, photo by Humuhumu

Re-Imagineering is a blog written by a group of current and former Disney Imagineering and Pixar employees, who turn an often critical eye to Disney’s current Imagineering efforts, contrasted against How Things Used to Be Done, and How Things Could Be. While it will take time for recovery from the horrid mis-management of the last decade or so of the Disney parks, things are looking up with recent changes in park management, and hope is in the air with the injection of Pixar into the Imagineering picture. Re-Imagineering can at times read as much hopelessness and despair, but they have some interesting perspectives.

Most recently, Mr Banks has written an insightful item looking at the parallels between the recent mis-management and the tone that was introduced to Orlando’s version of the Enchanted Tiki Room when it was redone in 1998. This new incarnation is called “Under New Management,” and it is one of the most universally reviled bits of Imagineering in the history of the company. Adding insult to injury, Under New Management has the gall to actually mock its predecessor, and thus also mocks the many, many Disney guests who still adore the original. Thankfully, when the Anaheim Enchanted Tiki Room was in need of refurbishment recently, Imagineering decided instead to faithfully restore it. This has paid off handsomely in not just a beatiful looking and sounding Tiki Room, but also surges in attendance of the attraction, and in related merchandise sales — clearly demonstrating that Orlando’s Under New Management is the one that is out of touch.

Also take a look at pariartspaul’s call for the return of the Tahitian Terrace at Disneyland. Naturally, I wholeheartedly agree with that idea, not just because tiki=good, but even more so because the Aladdin structure looks so very out-of-place amongst the other Adventureland buildings.


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Humuhumu
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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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