Tempest in a Tiki Room

As the smoke clears, will the 'old management' take over again?

On January 12, a small fire charred part of Disney World's Enchanted Tiki Room. It was quickly put out. Damage: minimal. Mostly smoke, a few singed feathers. No big deal.

What has become a big deal is whether Disney will use the fire as an excuse to return the Enchanted Tiki Room to its 'old' management team of four rather theadbare, ethnically diverse parrots (Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz), removing the usurpers Iago and Zazu, and decreasing the decibels of the show back to the somnolence of its 1970s heyday.

Will Disney do it? Nah.

Disney rarely retreats. In the contest between nostalgia and profit, nostalgia is knocked out in the first round.

Case in point: Pirates of the Caribbean. Disney's additions of Jack Sparrow at both the end of the ride (gloating in the Spanish treasure room) and the middle of it (peeping from a barrel in the burning town), and the new opening animation of octopus-visaged Davy Jones on the water wall, were done not to make the ride better (they made it worse, if you ask me) but to hype the movies. The old Pirates ride will not be back.

Neither will the old Tiki Room.

Pirates of the Caribbean is a signature attraction. The Enchanted Tiki Room is ... a place to go when the lines elsewhere are long or when it starts to rain. In the 1970s, I went to the 'old show' several times as a kid, thought those bobbing and weaving parrots pretty lame, and don't mind in the least what Disney has done to increase attendance. Maybe that's because I didn't care for the Tiki Room in the first place.

But I do like the new, more 'spirited' version of the show.

A Cast Member told me last year that attendance at the Enchanted Tiki Room has, in fact, increased after the new management took over, and that's really the end of the story for Disney (and for the Tiki Room's sponsor, Dole).

Others, however, are quite serious and now quite vocal about turning back the clock.

I understand, and I sympathize. I'd give anything to hear Jeremy Irons narrate Spaceship Earth once more. The parrot people apparently feel the same about their four old birds.

For a keener perspective on the matter, read Michael Crawford's 'An Enchanted Opportunity?' published today on Progress, U.S.A. It's really good! Don't miss it.

(Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing had a snarkier take. He hates those new birds...)

Don't stop there! More Tidings Await...

Stuff Not to Skip

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