June 19th, 1963: A memorable day for Tiki Room fans everywhere. That’s the date of this publicity photo that was circulated everywhere, showing Walt surrounded by the lovely Tiki Room hostesses Diana Lai (l) and Terri Kakuda (r). Anybody know what happened to them? Walt looks a little tired in this shot, but even more so in the “B” shot on the same roll; the one that DIDN’T get published.
It’s nice to know that 45 years later, this attraction still has a large fan base and that guests still line-up to view it. On another note, although it is not one of my favorite attractions (and I refuse to stand in a line for it!), I do appreciate the artistic visual quality and the message of It’s A Small World, seen here in this New York World’s Fair shot from July 1964:
Lately, there has been a large brouha over impending changes to this fabled attraction, leaked out by rumor-monger Al Lutz and others. The resulting "fan" commentary has been akin to this:
Although I understand the need to express an opinion, I feel it is extremely sad to see the lengths that people will jump to in their harsh criticism and quickness to villify the entire Disney organization based solely on a rumor...you would have thought by the angry reactions that Paris Hilton or Britney Spears AA's were being added to the attraction. Because of this, Disney legend Marty Sklar felt the need to make a public statement not only refuting the majority of the rumors leaked, but explaining how Walt himself was an agent for change: "The greatest ‘change agent’ who ever walked down Main Street at Disneyland was Walt himself. In fact, the park had not been open 24 hours when Walt began to “plus” Disneyland, and he never stopped. Having started my Disney career at Disneyland one month before the park opened in 1955, I can cite countless examples." Marty’s well-worded response will probably not satisfy some of the more hungry "fans" who just want a reason to bitch and moan anyway, but what can you do. My other gripe (I promise this is the last one for today) is that people keep mentioning Mary Blair and how it is desecrating her attraction; if you’re going to make a public outrage, then at least have the knowledge behind you to know that Mary cannot be given sole credit for this ride. She had a number of talented Disney legends who probably deserve the lion's share of the credit for actually making this thing see the light of day, including Rolly Crump, Alice Davis, Blaine Gibson, and Harriet Burns. To read the rest of Marty's letter, you can visit The Disney Blog. To see more Tiki Room photos, visit my website.
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