Wednesday, January 24, 2018

From Tiki Birds to Jungle River Expeditions: Big And Small Ways I'd Improve Walt Disney World's Adventureland

(Missy Martinez on Flickr)

In my last post on Haunted Serenade, I talked about what I would like to see happen in future refurbishments of Walt Disney World's version of Pirates of the Caribbean. After sharing these ideas about Pirates of the Caribbean, I thought about what I would like to see happen to the rest of WDW's Adventureland. Adventureland is by far the strongest land in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in terms of both scenic design and current roster of attractions. However, it too has had poorly thought out additions and changes, and some small but crucial details that added up with the rest of the land to create a truly brilliant themed space have been removed. So in this post, I'll share some of my ideas on ways to refurbish and restore parts of Adventureland that need it, starting with the smallest details and ending with the biggest projects.

Small Details

Restore the Fountains in Caribbean Plaza and the Tiki Room's Magic Fountain


 (special thanks to Foxxy at Passport to Dreams for these pictures)

Once upon a time, Caribbean Plaza had several beautiful tile fountains with lovely flowing agua. By the start of the new millennium, all of these fountains were turned off and turned into planters, resulting in the loss of the wonderful kinetic motion and reflections that the water in those fountains once provided. Bringing water back to these fountains would restore a nice detail of Caribbean Plaza.

(Thanks to How Bowers for letting me use this picture)

Of even more importance is resurrecting the greatest fountain that ever existed at the Magic Kingdom: the wondrous old magic fountain in Tropical Serenade (now known as Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room). This masterfully designed fountain with water flowing between the teeth of tikis into the water-filled base and bird-shaped arches supporting the top of the fountain was a visual masterpiece. Even better was the mesmerizing motion of the streams of water at the top of the fountain, and the impressive column of water that seemed to defy gravity by reaching up to the top of the room and descending in time with the birdmobile as it appeared from above. Sadly, this marvelous centerpiece of the Tiki Room disappeared during its transformation into the awful Under New Management, and replaced by a planter from which Uh-Oah, the Tiki goddess of disaster, emerged. Now that the original show has returned at long last, it is time to return the wonderful magic fountain and once more join the birdmobile in delighting guests who look at the center (of the room, that is).

Bring Back The Other Barker Bird of Adventureland

(Special Thanks to Mike Lee for permission to use this photo and several others in this post)

The salty old parrot that once beckoned to guests from the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean may have been the most famous of WDW's "Barker Birds", but he wasn't the only one. An adorable toucan (voiced by Wally Boag, the same person who lent his voice to José in the Tiki Room) used to sit on a perch underneath a special alcove of the thatched roof of Tropical Serenade and entice guests to sit on their tail feathers inside the air-conditioned Tiki Room and enjoy the performance given by the flowers, tikis, and all his relatives. He also entertained people with animal imitations and other sounds, similar to what Clyde and Claude do in the excellent Tiki Room preshow. This wonderful fellow could be heard and seen in the heart of Adventureland for many years. After going through a strange phase where he became Artemus the Jamaican toucan in the 90s, he sadly flew the coop when the New Management took over and he hasn't been seen since. Returning him and his cousin at Pirates of the Caribbean to their respective perches above two of Adventureland's greatest attractions would be a small but incredible restoration of one of the greatest and most beloved details of Adventureland.

Big Projects

Switch Back the Locations of Sunshine Tree Terrace and Aloha Isle and Return the Sunshine Tree Terrace To Its Former Glory

(Sam Howzit on Flickr)

If you don't know who this little guy is, let me start by saying he's the Orange Bird and he's an adorable character born from a partnership between the creators of the Magic Kingdom and the Florida Citrus Commission, the original sponsor of the whole Sunshine Pavilion (the complex which includes the Tiki Room and Sunshine Tree Terrace; a trip to any of a number of awesome sites will tell you more about the Orange Bird's unique role in marketing Florida citrus). He's also a living artifact from a time when the Sunshine Tree Terrace was truly awesome.

 His original home and the original location of the Sunshine Tree Terrace (pictured above) once featured its magnificent namesake; the Sunshine Tree, thick with dark green plastic leaves, blooming with artificial citrus flowers and filled with ripe plastic oranges, where the Orange Bird swung in a perch and thought orange thoughts (a neat projection effect), a perfect centerpiece for this tropical citrus snack bar. Among the many amazing citrus treats* courtesy of Floridian citrus growers according to a 1972 Los Angeles Times article was tangerine soft freeze ("a sherbet-like mixture of orange juice, tangerine concentrate, tangerine oil and sweetener"), a clear ancestor of the underrated yet much beloved Citrus Swirl, an orange juice bar on a stick, tangerine cheesecake ("cake topped with tangerine and orange glaze sauce"), citrus tarts ("heavy cream in an open shell, topped with orange sections and glazed orange sauce"), and crêpes ambrosia ("a delightful mixture of oranges, tangerines, marshmallows and coconut dipped in heavy cream and rolled in a French pancake"). No doubt your mouth is salivating right now, and if you ever tasted it, you may have thought the Citrus Swirl was great by itself!

*NOT including whatever the heck "jellied citrus salad" was!

Sadly, for one reason or another these delectable citrus sweets disappeared (with the exception of the Citrus Swirl, of course) and in 1986 the Orange Bird (pictured above in his old perch) flew the coop as the FCC's sponsorship ended. In 2000, the grand Sunshine Tree joined its former resident in disappearance, torn down and lost to the sands of time. At its absolute low, the Sunshine Pavilion had had its Tiki Room taken over by New Management, the Orange Bird and Sunshine Tree had both gone away, the flames of the decorative tiki torchbearers on the Terrace had been snuffed, and even the Citrus Swirl had vanished! Then a miraculous fire destroyed the New Management and brought back the real Tiki Room from the dead. Meanwhile, the Orange Bird had been revived out of nowhere thousands of miles away, appearing in merchandise appropriately enough for Japan's Orange Day. In spring of 2012, the Orange Bird finally flew back to his home at the Sunshine Tree Terrace, and although there was no longer a Sunshine Tree to roost in, it was an incredible return of a small but significant piece of Walt Disney World's spectacular history. Then in 2015, something peculiar happened; the Sunshine Tree Terrace switched locations with Aloha Isle. The latter now serves the highly popular Dole Whip right next to the Tiki Room, while Citrus Swirls (and the Orange Bird himself, who fortunately made the trip across Adventureland) can now be found at the former in a juice bar much closer to the main entrance of Adventureland. With the current menus of both venues in consideration, this switch makes sense; the presence of the Dole Whip, not to mention Pineapple Float and now Pineapple Upside-Down Cake at Aloha Isle compared to Sunshine Tree Terrace's assortment of Citrus Swirls, floats and drinks means the bigger counter is needed by Aloha Isle. But this still leaves us with the sad fact that the Sunshine Tree Terrace is now severed from the Sunshine Pavilion, its ancestral home. What if the Sunshine Tree Terrace brought back those undoubtedly delightful tangerine cheesecakes, crêpes ambrosia, and citrus tarts, and went back to its original home near the Tiki Room with the space for serving such treats, putting floats, drinks, frozen juice on a stick, and Aloha Isle's delicious pineapple treats back at the smaller juice bar? In addition to that, the Sunshine Tree could be put back behind the counter at its Terrace hideaway, Orange Bird swaying in the breeze and thinking orange thoughts once again on a perch in its branches. Oh, and returning the walk around Orange Bird that as seen below once delighted countless guests near the Sunshine Tree Terrace wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Demolish the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Revitalize the Center of Adventureland

A once impressive view of Tropical Serenade and the Sunshine Pavilion from all the way across Adventureland...

(Loren Javier on Flickr)

Has been obstructed by the worst-placed spinner attraction in all of Walt Disney World.

A formerly wide and spacious plaza...

(Mark and Paul Luukkonen on Flickr)

Is now a crowd-flow nuisance complete with annoying spitting camels.

(xiquinhosilva on Flickr)

And the cheap tent façade of Agrabah Bazaar...

Pales in comparison to the North African façade it replaced.

In short, placing the Magic Carpets of Aladdin right in the middle of Adventureland was a major mistake, one that is long overdue for being undone. It is time now to demolish the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and reclaim the space that it sits on. If this unnecessary spinner attraction were to disappear, a multitude of wonderful things could happen, such as expanding the beautiful pond in front of the Tiki Room back to its former size, putting in new planters and other decorative touches, and taking down the tent façade of Agrabah Bazaar and restoring the original, superior façade of that section of Adventureland. These changes would combine to transform one of the Magic Kingdom's least successful crowd areas into a marvelous plaza with enough space for everyone drawn to the majesty of the Balinese Sunshine Pavilion.

Give Jungle Cruise the Major Refurbishment it Deserves

(Josh Hallett on Flickr)

If and when a major refurbishment of the classic Jungle Cruise happens, there is a veritable treasure trove of uninstalled scenes designed by Marc Davis himself that would be excellent enhancements of the attraction, not to mention previously removed effects and figures that could be returned. My refurbishment of the Jungle Cruise would take advantage of both, not only restoring pieces of the wild river expedition that have been AWOL for years or decades, but also finally filling in specially prepared and empty sections of the riverbank with the Marc Davis scenes they were always intended for. Although a thorough detailing of what I would like to see happen in a refurbishment of the Jungle Cruise should and will comprise its own complete blog post on Haunted Serenade, I will say this; my refurbishment involves such wonderful things deeply rooted in the history of the Jungle Cruise as cute frogs, baboons, an angry gorilla confronting a crocodile, and flaming skulls (!) among other stuff. I look forward to sharing with you all my comprehensive plan for refurbishing one of WDW's most exotic and signature attractions in my next post on Haunted Serenade. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos to give you a preview of the stuff that I will talk about in the Jungle Cruise refurbishment post:

I hope you all enjoyed this look at Walt Disney World's Adventureland and the big and small ways I would improve it. I promise I won't leave you guys hanging too long on a jungle branch waiting for my next post, so be sure to keep an eye out for my upcoming post on Haunted Serenade about how I'd refurbish the Jungle Cruise!


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