Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tiki Room "B" Photo & Small World Brouha

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 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.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Add me to your network


Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Hi Dave, Super shots of Walt in the Tiki Room. I‘ve never seem the “A” of the “B” photo, it's always a pleasure to see new photo’s of Walt, even if he looks a little tired.

Where is the Paris Hilton AA going to be placed? Is there a superficial-land in IASW? I agree with your comments regarding IASW. Not one I wait in line for either, but I do appreciate the attraction and it’s rich history.

Thank you for pointing out it is/was not the “Mary Blair” ride. Marty has an uphill battle, I think I recognize a few bloggers in your “Torches & Pitchforks” photo!

Thanks DAVE!!!!!

Progressland said...

I think it's obvious that the Imagineers only created the show to hypnotize Walt!

Major Pepperidge said...

Hey Dave, THANKS for the link to Marty Sklar's letter (which I hadn't seen). It makes me feel better about the proposed changes, since I truly believe that both Marty and Tony Baxter wouldn't want to "ruin" this classic attraction.

It's no secret that I love IASW (as you've seen on my blog), probably more than the average Disneyland fan. It just seems to resonate with me for some reason! And I am certainly a huge fan of Mary Blair, Rolly Crump, and all the others who contributed to the original vision. Anyway, I will cross my fingers and hope that the updates will make the ride more relevant for 21st century audiences.

Anonymous said...

"The greatest ‘change agent’ who ever walked down Main Street at Disneyland was Walt himself." ... Are those people making the decisions today of the same caliber as Walt?

Brian said...

Dave - I'm disappointed. You have lamented the passing of attractions here, the changes that are touted for Small World will signal the passing of the theme of the original ride. They might as well yank it out and replace it with something new. If they could think something up.

Marty's letter is interesting - think Disney might be scared?

Davelandweb said...

Brian - Yes, I have lamented rides that have been lost in the past. That is fact. What is annoying me is that so many are villifying Disney based solely on "rumors" ("I know 'someone' who says..."). Quite frankly, I don't think Disney is scared...probably more annoyed that this tempest in a teapot has gotten to where it is. Time for people to settle down and quit getting riled up. IF Disney does remove the Rainforest scene, then sure, that would suck...but Marty Sklar has assured that it will not happen. Let's give the organization a break for a change. Ever since the 50th, I’d say the Anaheim park has done a pretty damn good job (especially compared to the Pressler years). As one person commented, Disney was very upfront about what changes they were going to make to POTC; what would the reason be for lying now?

Lorna said...

HI! I am Diana Lai's (now Thayer) cousin in Hawaii. Diana is still living in CA. She is okay. I was looking for that picture that showed her with "Uncle Walt" as she referred to him in an email she sent to me regarding how she got hired at Disneyland.

Davelandweb said...

Lorna: Great to hear from you, and glad to know that Diana is still in the area. Any info you or Diana would care to share would be much appreciated - Dave (email:

Danny said...

Dave: The email that Lorna is referring to is taken from an original request that I (her stepson) made to Diana in 2004 to write down her story of working with Walt and The Enchanted Tiki Room. I was originally intending to post the story at Tiki Central back in 2004, but never got around to it until now. You can view the whole email throught the following link:
Daniel Thayer