The Enchanted Tiki Room has finally reopened. You may recall the January 12, 2011 fire that (purportedly) destroyed the Iago audio-animatronic figure and damaged other parts of the show. Back on May 15, 2011, Disney announced that Iago and Zazu would be removed from the attraction and it would be reverted back to a version similar to the original 1971 iteration. The version featuring Iago and Zazu (Under New Management) opened in 1998 to lackluster reviews from Disney’s hardcore audience. There’s probably nothing Disney could have added to the original to elicit a positive reaction, but two annoying birds from Aladdin and The Lion King probably wasn’t the best bet. Universally hated on Disney discussion boards around the Internet, the announcement that Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room would be “coming back” was music to many arm-chair Imagineers’ ears. Get it? Because the birds sing? Music to my ears?? Mickey ears? Never mind.
Enchanted Tiki Room has a rich history – it was the first Disney attraction to feature audio-animatronics, originally opening in Disneyland on June 23, 1963. It was also one of the last attractions Walt personally oversaw and many believe it was his favorite Disneyland attraction. Enchanted Tiki Room is a special attraction for a lot of people and is one of many examples of how Disney pioneered the theme park industry.
Enchanted Tiki Room began operating August 14th around 2pm and is now officially open. According to this week’s Times Guide, it will operate from 10am to 9pm this week (Magic Kingdom is open until 11pm).
Here we are arriving at one of the worst times possible – 2:45pm. Disney is setting up for the 3pm Parade that runs right up Main Street and over to Liberty Square and Frontierland. That means the sidewalks are lined with people and Disney will be motioning incoming visitors away from the road that connects the entrance to the Hub area. If you can help it, don’t try to leave Magic Kingdom 15 minutes before or after a Parade is scheduled to begin. At the moment, that means stay put between 2:40pm and 3:20pm for Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade. The Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Parade isn’t as much of a concern because few people actually line up for it, but it can still be a hassle if you’re trying to move around Main Street and the Hub area while it’s going on.
An arrival or departure right before, right after, or during a Parade isn’t the end of the world though. Most of the stores on Main Street are connected, so we can walk in through the Confectionery and exit up near the end of Main Street near the Ice Cream Parlour.
A lot of people lined up for the Parade.
Other than the first hour in the morning and the final hour that they appear, the third best time to visit the Fairies or any character that continues to appear is during a major Parade. Wait times have been peaking around a solid 45-50 minutes most days.
Here we are at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. The building looks fantastic. If you’ve forgotten, Tiki Room is located directly across from Jungle Cruise, near the Magic Carpets of Aladdin.
This is the standing-room-only preshow area. It has three long, raised levels and a ground level for disabled guests. Because of the positioning of the tiki gods and bird narrators (pictured below), you’re actually better off filing down the second or third levels rather than getting in line at the end of the first level. In other words, the view is best from in front of the tiki god/hut area, whether you’re on the first, second, or third level. The people at the far ends away from where you’ll file into the theater have a very poor view of what’s going on during the preshow and will be the last to find their seats inside the show. Because the Enchanted Tiki Room show is around 15 minutes long and the preshow is under five minutes long, you could be stuck standing here for a while with little to do. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to see a lot of people in line in front of you – it means that the show is about to start. File in when it’s empty and you’ve got a 15 minute wait in front of you, even if you’re the only people waiting. I don’t expect a Tiki Room show will ever fill to capacity, even now that it’s “new.” The theater is large and there isn’t a ton of demand.
The pre-show is cute, with an introduction of the tiki gods and our first look at some of the audio-animatronic birds.
Yes, I take lousy photos in the dark. Hopefully it will give you a bit of an idea about what to expect from the theater and the number of audio-animatronics above you (in the hundreds). Note that all of the action is up above, which might be uncomfortable for those with major neck problems or mobility concerns. Inside the Magic has better photos and a full video of the pre-show and main show here: http://www.insidethemagic.net/2011/08/walt-disneys-enchanted-tiki-room-reopens-at-walt-disney-world-uniting-new-technology-with-a-classic-show/.
I guess this is a blog, so my opinion is what counts right? You know, I’m just a child, so I didn’t “grow up” with this stuff. If they announced that they were demolishing Tiki Room in favor of some state of the art show/attraction, I would be 100% in favor. The history is nice, but it’s lost on 99.5% of the people that see the show. For most casual visitors, this is an extremely dated attraction with little action or particularly fun sequences. Amazing in 1963? No doubt. But in 2011? This is a trip down nostalgia lane for few and not much more than a comfortable, air-conditioned diversion for most. The animatronics look outstanding and they did a great job with the refurbishment, but it’s not going to do much for people that don’t have a predisposed soft-spot for the attraction and history of Walt Disney World. That’s not necessarily such a bad thing and it is very comfortable, very dark, and very air-conditioned. Three of my favorite things.
We might as well take a quick look around while we’re here. Jungle Cruise is at just 20 minutes with FASTPASS return times 40 minutes in the future.
Short wait at Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates’ wait times were peaking at 25-35 minutes in the afternoon in July. You know it’s busy when the wait is 30+ minutes.
Occasionally I’ll see posts on DIS or other internet forums about how, “It was super-crowded but we got to do everything we wanted to do. Space Mountain was a walk-on at 2pm and we rode Splash four times in an hour.” I just want to say, “Well, buddy, I guess it wasn’t super-crowded then, was it?” That was sort of the feeling you got from this afternoon though. There were people everywhere, but wait times really weren’t that bad. Certainly not a walk-on at Space Mountain, but nominal waits considering we’ll see summer crowds for another week to ten days.
Peter Pan’s Flight is a FASTPASS priority over Winnie the Pooh. Winnie the Pooh’s return time is just about 50 minutes in the future, whereas Peter Pan’s Flight is about 2.5 hours. Peter Pan’s wait times are also higher in the late morning and afternoon. 60 minutes at Peter compared to 30 minutes at Pooh.
The wait time is probably underestimated at the moment, but it certainly doesn’t look bad.
A ton of people in line for Rapunzel. Try to get here early in the morning or after 5pm. Avoid 12pm – 4pm if at all possible.
Few people on Main Street. A lot of people leave shortly after the 3pm Parade and there is a bit of a lull in new entrants until around 6pm when it starts to pick up again.
Short waits at Town Square Theater.
Overall, it certainly wasn’t a terrible day to visit, which is why we still had the “recommended” rating. The day before was less crowded and waits were shorter, but the early morning and late evening at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday would have made up for the heavier afternoon crowds if you took advantage of one or both of those time periods.
I’m not crazy about Enchanted Tiki Room, but certainly understand the appeal for those that appreciate its rich history. To many casual vacationers, it will seem like little more than a dated attraction that doesn’t belong in a theme park in 2011 (or 2012, or 2013, or 2014, etc.).