The attraction opened in Disneyland on June 23, 1963 and was the first to feature Audio-Animatronics, a WED Enterprises patented invention. The attraction was sponsored by United Airlines for its first 12 years; in 1976, sponsorship passed over to Hawaii's Dole Food Company, which remains the sponsor to the present day. Dole also provides the unique Dole Whip soft-serve frozen dessert sold at a snack bar near the entrance.
The show was originally going to be a restaurant featuring Audio-Animatronic birds serenading guests as they ate and drank. The "magic fountain" at the room's center, for example, was originally planned as a coffee station. Since computers have played a central role in the attraction since its inception, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room was also Disneyland's first fully air-conditioned building.
A virtually identical copy of Disneyland's show, called Tropical Serenade, was installed at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom when that park opened in 1971. Although accompanied by a new pre-show, the main show was the same. Tropical Serenade was replaced in 1998 with The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), featuring Iago and Zazu from Aladdin and The Lion King, respectively.
On January 12, 2011, a small fire broke out in the attic of the attraction. The Iago Audio-Animatronic figure was severely damaged in the blaze. It was announced at Disney's D23 Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th Anniversary Conference that the attraction would be refurbished and returned to the original show format.
The attraction re-opened on August 15, 2011 as Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and was reinstated as a slightly edited version of Disneyland's original show.
The presentation features a "cast" of over 150 talking, singing and dancing birds, flowers, the aforementioned magic fountain, tiki drummers and tiki totem poles that perform the attraction's signature tunes, "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" by the Sherman Brothers and "Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing." The finale has every Audio-Animatronic figure performing a rousing version of "Hawaiian War Chant." The choice of exit music is somewhat unusual, namely an arrangement of "Heigh-Ho" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with lyrics thanking guests for watching the show and hurrying them to the exit.
- 54 singing orchids
- 4 totem poles
- 12 tiki drummers
- 24 singing masks
- 7 birds of paradise (the plant variety)
- 8 macaws
- 12 toucans
- 9 forktail birds
- 6 cockatoos
- 20 assorted tropical birds