For a half-century now, a collection of fine, feathered friends have greeted and entertained visitors at Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, singing tropical-themed tunes in a show that was the first to showcase audio-animatronics, a then brand-new technology that would eventually bring life to a variety of creatures and characters throughout the company’s theme parks.
Opening on June 23, 1963, the imagination-sparking production brought the concept of animation off the movie and television screen and into the real world in a physical, three-dimensional form through the use of robotics, magnetic tape, and a little bit of that classic Disney magic.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of this beloved—and still operating—Disneyland attraction, the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco is throwing a fete on June 21 truly befitting such an fan-favorite; as part of the museum’s ongoing “Animate Your Night” series of after-hours events, Friday’s bash promises to appeal to a wide variety of local and visiting party-goers.
“There’s such a thriving vintage culture, and so many subsets, in the Bay Area; I think what’s great about what the museum offers is that because it covers the time from 1901 to 1966,” says Caitlin Moneypenny-Johnston, marketing and promotions manager at the museum. “We have a lot of points of nostalgia for all of those different subcultures. There’s a lot of venues around the area that cater to those audiences, but there’s not a lot places that offer the historical context of what that era was like.”
Among the highlights of the adults-only party will be live entertainment from the Maikai Gents and Uni & Her Ukele, period music from tiki guru DJ Otto Von Stoheim and live velvet painting from artist Mikel Patton.
“For Walt, the Tiki Room was kind of a personal project of his and I think so much of the culture has thrived because of the Tiki Room,” says Moneypenny-Johnston. “There’s a really good crossover of Disney enthusiasts and tiki enthusiasts. It’s such a place of nostalgia and reflection. It’s old-school Disneyland, and I think people really love that.”
The event will also feature the staff of San Francisco’s own Smuggler’s Cove serving up special cocktails, and for those who want something a little lower-octane, the Enchanted Tiki Room’s signature Dole Whip frozen dessert will be available, as well.
Visitors can also take the opportunity to check out some of the museum’s special exhibits, two of which recently opened and are currently on display. “Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons” features 50 works by the legendary artist and author accompanied by 50 statements from celebrities, authors and noted personalities on his influence. “Camille Rose Garcia: Down The Rabbit Hole,” features 40 works by Garcia alongside 10 “Alice In Wonderland” concept paintings by Disney artist Mary Blair.
After fans leave the party humming the Tiki Room’s unforgettable theme song, which was written by Disney’s go-to tunesmiths of the 50s and 60s, Robert and Richard Sherman, they can start planning a trip down to San Diego in August for the 13th annual Tiki Oasis, a weekend-long festival that this week’s fete is serving as a kick-off.
“This event has definitely gotten the biggest response of any these that we’ve done,” says Moneypenny-Johnston. “It’s going to be really exciting, and really fun.”
If You Go:
“Animate Your Night: Enchanted Tiki Oasis Pre-Party”
June 21, 7-11 p.m. $8-$30
“Camille Rose Garcia: Down The Rabbit Hole”
Open through Nov. 3
“Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons”
Open through July 7