Not every little thing Walt Disney dreamed up was widespread along with his Imagineers, the crew of creators who make new Disneyland points of interest. And never every little thing Disney wished to make was potential to execute, just like the restaurant he wished to construct for his spouse, Lillian.

The explanation it was scrapped? It might have been too widespread.

“There would have been too many individuals,” Rolly Crump instructed SFGATE. 

Crump, the Imagineer who dreamed up the Museum of the Bizarre — a venture Disney championed that was killed as a result of different Imagineers thought it was too scary — and labored on iconic tasks just like the Haunted Mansion, was one of many authentic Imagineers assigned to the restaurant venture. Walt Disney wished to create a tea room for Lillian Disney, which was initially alleged to be on Foremost Avenue U.S.A., and embody a present part. 

“Finally it advanced past that, and it was determined that it might be moved over to Adventureland, since they have been redesigning it, and changed into a Tiki Room,” Crump wrote in his memoir, “It’s Form of a Cute Story,” with John Heimbuch. “Individuals would are available in for dinner and see this magical little present.” Past that, nobody was completely positive what the present could be. 

Walt Disney within the Enchanted Tiki Room in 1965.

Courtesy of Getty

John Hench, a predominant artwork director at WED Enterprises (the unique identify for Walt Disney Imagineering), got here up with the unique sketches for the room, which had birds in cages suspended over the tables the place folks would eat. Disney, although, was hesitant when he noticed the sketches. “We will’t have birds in there,” Crump recalled him saying. “…They may poop on the meals.” 

In that assembly, Crump wrote, the group — together with himself, Disney, Hench and others — tossed round concepts. It went from stuffed birds to mechanical birds to a complete present of animatronics the place birds would sing to one another. “That was a part of the great thing about these periods,” Crump wrote. “Concepts would come out, and simply circulation and evolve into these fantastic issues that might ultimately make their means into Disneyland.”


That’s how Crump was tasked with creating the pre-show space, the place diners would wait for his or her tables, which Disney wished to be entertaining all by itself. “I bear in mind Walt turning to me and saying ‘Rolly, you higher do your homework and discover out all about tiki,’ as a result of it was round that,’” he instructed SFGATE. “So I did.”

Particularly, Disney requested Crump to design tikis that might be a supply of leisure. 

“Walt got here as much as me and mentioned, ‘Rolly, ‘we’re going to have this preshow space for people who find themselves ready to get into the restaurant,’” Crump wrote. “‘I need to have some Tikis on the market, and I would like them to inform tales. I would like you to design them.’”

The Enchanted Tiki Room show in 1963. 

The Enchanted Tiki Room present in 1963. 

Courtesy of Getty

He didn’t simply design the statues that he modeled on Hawaiian gods like Pele and Maui, with their water and fireplace options. Crump carved them by hand, utilizing clay that wanted to be very heat to be manipulated. That warmth got here from working immediately within the solar within the Burbank car parking zone of the Walt Disney Firm. Not solely that, he carved the statues utilizing a plastic fork. 

“Chances are you’ll assume that folks [who] are sculpting for Disney have gotten these attractive temperature-controlled rooms, stuffed with north gentle, to higher assist their work,” he wrote. “However no, no… they’ve a car parking zone! I all the time thought that was sort of humorous.”

After the present had been created and the house had been designed, the Imagineers realized they’d an issue… a very good drawback. The tiki room was going to be too widespread to have the ability to deal with the demand. 

“Walt mentioned, ‘there are going to be too many individuals for a restaurant, so we’ll make it an attraction,’” Crump instructed SFGATE. “It couldn’t deal with that many individuals.” As a result of the house was allotted within the park already, there wasn’t any flexibility on increasing the footprint. “They didn’t have the house to do this,” he added. “It was sort of a jammed space.” 

So, the tables have been faraway from the design, and the restaurant grew to become the Enchanted Tiki Room that’s nonetheless in place within the park at present.

Imagineer Rolly Crump on Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland, during the filming of the documentary "The Whimsical Imagineer" by Ken Kebow

Imagineer Rolly Crump on Foremost Avenue U.S.A. at Disneyland, in the course of the filming of the documentary “The Whimsical Imagineer” by Ken Kebow

by Ken Kebow

At one level in our interview, I requested Crump if he was impressed by the tiki bars round Los Angeles, with their theatrical results and over-the-top decor. He and his spouse Marie Tocci, who was additionally on the decision, gently laughed at my query. “I feel it was the opposite means round,” Tocci mentioned. At present, the Enchanted Tiki Room is so beloved that impressed not solely Dealer Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar on the Disneyland Resort, however professional-level house tiki bars round Los Angeles and an actual tiki bar in Solvang with touches of Disney all through. 

In an period when Disney is more and more placing emphasis on inclusion in its moviemaking and on eradicating problematic elements of its older points of interest, the Enchanted Tiki Room would possible have been designed otherwise at present. No caricature accents for the birds, no cartoony pillars of faces chanting within the corners of the room. However when it opened in 1963, the attraction was technically groundbreaking.

“It’s an attraction that actually deserves plenty of credit score, as a result of it was the primary all animatronic present that was ever designed and constructed wherever on this planet,” Crump wrote. “It was a primary for Disneyland and a primary for the remainder of the world, so that could be a fairly huge deal.”