This is a safe place where it’s okay to admit that we all
thought the Tiki room birds were real at one point or another. It’s not just
their beautiful cashmere feathers and stuttered head movements that tricks the
smallest (and sometimes not so small) children into thinking that Adventureland
is the home to these magical birds.
It’s the audio in these animatronics that have snagged the runner-up
position in our Disneyland’s 55th anniversary spectacular. Out of all the sounds, here are three of
Legends of a Feather Flock Together
Sitting through a showing of the Tiki Room is like getting a
crash course in the world of Disney voice legends. Thurl Ravenscroft voices
Fritz, Wally Boag is Jose and Fulton Burley plays Michael. (Lets not forget Ernie Newton, the voice
of Pierre – while he’s no Disney legend, he still plays one heck of a parrot.) Boag and Furley were both stars of the
Golden Horseshoe Review and Ravenscroft’s Disneyland credits include his work
as a singing bust in the Haunted Mansion and his basso profundo as the first
mate on the Mark Twain. (Ravenscroft also gave life to the music in a number of
Disney animated classics, including some of my favorites, the Sword in the
Stone and Sleeping Beauty.) It’s the three legends behind the lines that make
quotes like “My siestas are getting chorter and chorter,” “Stop talking while
I’m interrupting” and “Applause! Applause!” so memorable. Ravenscroft, Boag,
Furley and Newton not only welcome us to their tropical hideaway but manage to convince
us that parrots from all corners of the globe call the south seas of
Adventureland home as well.
Lets all Sing like the Birdies Sing
Without songs to sing or stories to tell, talking birds, warbling
flowers and chanting tikis would be like the proverbial tree that falls in the
woods. Studio staff composer George Bruns (co-composer of The Ballad of Davy
Crockett and Yo Ho a Pirate’s Life for Me) was responsible for the bulk of
original compositions and arrangements for the Tiki Room. Other Disney legends, Richard and
Robert Sherman provide the musical icing on the Tiki Room cake with their
original composition for the Tiki Room theme song. (Those Sherman brothers certainly
knew how to write a catchy tune – besides the Tiki Room, who can’t forget It’s
a Small World or Winnie the Pooh?) It’s more than the star power that makes the Tiki lyrics
sparkle. A dose of classic 1960’s WED wit has ingrained lines and lyrics into
the memories of both hard-core and casual fans alike.
Écoutez, écoutez, listen, listen...
It’s not just the songs and the script that make the sounds
of the Tiki Room magical. Some of my favorite sounds include the clacking beaks
from the birds of paradise, the mechanical thud of tikis on the drums and of
course, the metallic rainstorm resulting from too much celebrating. Disney knew
it would take more than a handful of Legends and a catchy Sherman tune to make
the Tiki Room memorable. Clacks, whistles, claps, bangs and even the gentle
lapping of the Enchanted Fountain round out the Tiki Room’s enchanting
In the immortal words of Pierre:
production is yet to come, so strum the guitar, and beat the drum.
We've been a hit, and we know you adore us, so come on and join us in another chorus! The next time you’re in the Enchanted Tiki Room, remember to take in its sounds and not just the sights. At the end of the day though, it takes birds, flowers, tikis, sights and sounds to make the room an enchanted, timeless place and my penultimate attraction.