May 5, 2020 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Walt Disney’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” on Records

When The Enchanted Tiki Room came to LP (paired with The Jungle Cruise), it brought a lot of the Disney animation legacy along with it—plus significant roots in “hi-fi” history.

Walt Disney’s

The Original Soundtrack of The Tiki Room and The Adventurous Jungle Cruise
Disneyland Records Storyteller Series ST-3966 (Mono) (12” 33 1/3 RPM)
2018 CD Reissues:
Wonderland Music Store (Disney Parks On-Demand Kiosks) ST-3966 (Mono)
“A Musical History of Disneyland” Walt Disney Records Boxed Set 61283-2 (Tiki Room Only / Disc One / Stereo)
2019 LP Reissue: Walt Disney Records Vinyl Vault Series (Stereo & Mono)

Originally Released in June 1968. Producers: Jimmy Johnson, Camarata in Association with WED Enterprises (Walt Disney Imagineering). Writers: Wally Boag, Fulton Burley, Bill Cottrell, Marty Sklar. Musical Direction: George Bruns, Camarata. Album Art: Pete Alvarado (as Bart Doe). Total Running Time: 27 minutes (Tiki Room 17:30 / Jungle Cruise 9:30).

Voices: Wally Boag (José); Fulton Burley (Michael); Ernie Newton (Pierre); Thurl Ravenscroft (Fritz); Clarence Nash, Marion Darlington, A. Purvis Pullen, Muzzy Marcelino, Beverly Ford, Dorothy Lloyd (Bird Sounds); Norma Zimmer, Sue Allen, Sally Sweetland, Sue Lewis, Jeanne Gayle, Betty Wand, Bill Lee (Vocalists).

Songs: “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman; Elfenchor from Die Rheinixen (Barcarolle)” by Jacques Offenbach; “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing” by Robert Hargreaves, Stanley Damerell, Tolchard Evens, Henry Tilsley; “Hawaiian War Chant” by Prince Leleiohaku, Johnny Noble; “Closing Bows / Drums” by Jimmie Dodd; “Heigh-Ho” by Larry Morey, Frank Churchill, special lyrics by Wally Boag.

One of Walt Disney’s first concepts for a park in which people could enter his imaginary worlds in a “real-life” way was called “Lilliputian Land.” He was very taken with experiencing life in a smaller scale. After all, his famous home railroad was small enough to sit on and one of his personal craft projects was a replica of Granny Kincaid’s barn from the film So Dear to My Heart.

Major sections of Walt Disney’s studio offices have been meticulously restored just as he left them (including the records he had next to his desk and the one on his turntable, which you can find out about here ). He loved collecting miniatures so much that his office abounds with them, from his personal collection and others received as gifts from around the world. There even exists another entire room, yet to be restored, that is filled with beloved miniatures.

As our own Jim Korkis mentions in this fascinating essay on Walt’s love of things Lilliputian, one of the most pivotal miniatures in the world of Disney history was a clockwork bird that Walt had purchased for his wife, Lillian. Therein lies the birth of the first attraction to use Audio-Animatronics® technology (to use the official copyrighted, italicized, adjective-only designation).

The earliest incarnation of the show—which would feature full-sized animated birds instead of tiny ones–began in 1962 when it was internally known as “Birds.” was originally planned as part of a south sea themed dinner presentation in which the birds would perform as the “dessert,” as Stacia Martin calls it in her delightfully detailed book, The Sounds of Disneyland. This book accompanies the six-disc CD set, A Musical History of Disneyland (and I must credit it for a lot of the research in this post).

Much of the subsequent attraction music originated in the “dessert” incarnation, but a key musical element was missing to give it a complete identity. The first thing the birds performed at this point was the piece identified on the album as “Elfenchor from Die Rheinnixen.” Sharp-eared Sleeping Beauty fans might recognize the very first whistled notes as belonging to “Bluebird” from George Bruns’ adaptation of the Tchaikovsky ballet for the 1959 Oscar-nominated score – a little inside nod from the musical director.

To many classical music lovers, the opening piece is known by its later title, “Barcarolle,” which Offenbach repurposed for his Les Contes of Hoffman (Tales of Hoffman, but as Stacia explained, it was, “actually introduced by a chorus of elves in 1864’s unsuccessful (and until 2002, ‘lost’) Die Rheinnixen (The Nymphs of the Rhine).”

Vitally important to countless millions of Gilligan’s Island fans is the fact that it is also the melody to (the movie star) Ginger Grant’s “Ophelia Song” in the seven stranded castaways’ musical version of Hamlet:

Next in the bird program came the sing-along version of “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing.” The finale is “An English-language version of ‘Hawaiian War Chant,’” Stacia continues. “Johnny Noble’s 1936 tune based upon an 1860 melody by Hawaii’s Prince Leleiohaku (popularized in the 1940s as a lightning-paced rhythm number by Spike Jones and His City Slickers), and a choral rendition. Of Princess Liliuokalani’s 1878 ‘Aloha Oe’.”

Still trying to figure out how to bring the elements together, Walt Disney and several of his key people watched the show repeatedly in a mock-up Polynesian setting on Stage Two on the studio lot. Walt presented the mock-up for Coca-Cola executives as a possible pavilion for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, perhaps as a more elaborate experience emphasizing the birds and removing the dinner. The tiki birds didn’t fly to the Fair, but they did win the starring role at Disneyland and the central thread that tied it together was a song.

Still wrestling with show titles like “Legends of the Enchanted Island” and “Legends of The Enchanted Tiki,” Walt invited Richard and Robert Sherman to Stage Three to see the show. According to Jim Fanning in a classic D23 article, “Richard speculated that the hit song ‘Pineapple Princess’ that he and his brother Robert wrote for Annette in 1960 is probably what made Walt think of the Shermans when it came time for a Tiki song.” (That top ten hit and several of their other island-themed songs appeared on an album entitled Hawaiiannette that Walt may have also heard.)

Richard Sherman’s comment goes beyond speculation. What became The Enchanted Tiki Room has as much to do with music and records as any other element of its conception. Hawaii had recently become a state and was the subject of endless public fascination. For years after WWII, the entire south seas region was romanticized in fiction, films and musicals—such as the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.

Long-playing stereophonic records and high-fidelity home sound systems in attractive consoles adorned suburban living rooms at this time. There were hundreds and hundreds of albums filled with exotic music—and even sound effects—from faraway lands that made Howard and Marion Cunningham believe they actually were in fantastic locations as the sound swept magjestically from one side of the room to the other.

Chief among the shiny new records were massive best sellers by such artists as Martin Denny, Les Baxter, Yma Sumac and Jack De Mello (who we honored here). They brought forth a combination of island authenticity and fantasy into homes where such sounds were fresh and exciting. Martin Denny’s biggest hit was 1959’s “Quiet Village,” which set a strange and compelling standard by combining familiar and unusual instrumentation with birds and animal noises. “Quiet Village” became a standard that was played throughout the century. Walt Disney most certainly was familiar with this record.

It was Walt himself who suggested the singing style of Peruvian-born Yma Sumac for the some of the vocal sections in the show. While most singers have a three-octave range, Sumac’s voice approached five. She was signed to Capitol Records by the aforementioned Les Baxter, (who wrote and first recorded “Quiet Village”). Baxter was a instrumental recording artist of great versatility who also created background music for American International Pictures (including scores for “Beach Party” films starring Annette and Frankie Avalon, recorded at Tutti Camarata’s Sunset Sound studio in Hollywood). Baxter experimented with instruments and sounds, and made extensive use of Sumac’s range for highly unusual and very popular albums starting with 1950’s Voice of the Ixtabay, which launched a series of similar discs.

Meanwhile, back at the studio, the Sherman Brothers came up with their very first song for a Disney theme park attraction, “The Tiki-Tiki-Tiki Room.” Like The Parent Trap, which had undergone title changes like “Petticoats and Bluejeans” until the Shermans wrote the song that gave the film its final title, their “Tiki Tiki” tune sharpened the show’s focus and established its identity. By the time the attraction was completed, the authentic lyrics were added back to “Hawaiian War Chant,” the birds’ impressions of Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Maurice Chevalier were added to “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing” and a parody of “Heigh-Ho” capped the show, encouraging guests to move on so others could enjoy the next performance.

One selection the album does not credit is “Closing Bows / Drums” by Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd, highly notable because it’s the Disney Legend’s only song written especially for Disney Audio-Animatronics attraction. More about Jimmie is in this Spin.

The vocal soundtrack of The Enchanted Tiki Room evokes a rich history going back to the near-beginning of the Walt Disney Studios. Marion Darlington performed bird sounds in Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons as early as 1931. From Snow White to Cinderella, if there were birds, there was Marion. Also chirping away is Spike Jones’ “Horatio Q. Birdbath,” whose real name was A. Purvis Pullen and Muzzy (Maurice) Marcellino—who achieved whistling immortality on the themes to Lassie and The High and the Mighty.

Among the vocalists are Norma Zimmer—known to Lawrence Welk watchers as “The Champagne Lady” and heard by Disney fans as the soloist in classics like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland; Betty Wand, the offscreen singing voice for Leslie Caron in Gigi and Rita Moreno in West Side Story; and Jeanne Gayle, wife of George Bruns and frequently “canary” for his fellow Firehouse Five Plus Two pals as well as soloist in Walt Disney’s stop-motion Oscar-nominated Noah’s Ark.

Hey there! Even Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo are in The Enchanted Tiki Room! Legendary Hollywood studio singer Bill Lee (see this Spin) who sings the Bing Crosby impression, sang for Daws Butler’s Yogi in Hanna-Barbera’s first feature, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear. Ernie Newton, who voices Pierre, was the singing voice for Don Messick as Boo-Boo. More about that fine feature in this Animation Spin.)

When this soundtrack was restored for inclusion on the Magical Tour of Disneyland box set, the unreleased barker bird spiel and garden pre-show were also included for the first time. Digitally restored and remastered by Randy Thornton, this also marked the first time the full soundtrack of the show was available in stereo. In 1968, mixing all fourteen separate tracks may have been too costly or technically the album, so it was originally released only in mono.

On side two is “The Adventurous Jungle Cruise,” narrated by Thurl Ravenscroft, with some of the humor but a little less of the goofy jauntiness most would expect from a Disneyland “skipper.” The musical background is Camarata’s “Adventureland Suite,” from the first album recorded, manufactured and distributed by Disneyland Records, Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland and its modified reissue, A Day at Disneyland. These are must-have, still-available recordings that are described more fully in this Animation Spin. The Suite is also used as a background score for More Jungle Book, which is covered in this Spin.

When Walt Disney Records reissued The Enchanted Tiki Room / Jungle Cruise LP in their “Vinyl Vault” series in 2019, it marked the first time the Tiki Room stereo soundtrack was ever pressed on vinyl (the Jungle Cruise remained in its original mono form). However, there are slight differences between the “Heigh-Ho” on the 1968 album and the stereo remaster. Perhaps the mixes emphasize certain singers and instruments differently, but it is the only thing between the two recordings that do not match, except that one is in stereo and one is not.

“The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room”

Note George Bruns’ extensive and clever use of textured, tactile percussion, which is not only as peppy as the tune but is also loaded with clicks and clacks—lessening the early machine noise from the animated figures. This allows the audience to adapt not only to the sight of the birds, flowers and tikis but also their ancillary sounds.


  • “…most singers have a three-octave range….”

    No, they don’t! A singer with a useful vocal range of three full octaves is very unusual. Singers — especially singers who don’t know very much about music, with whom the earth has been abundantly afflicted — often grossly exaggerate their vocal range out of ignorance and manage to get away with it. No singer in the history of music has ever been able to sing a five-octave scale. Effects like whistle tones, which need to be amplified and dressed up in the mix in order to be heard at all, simply do not count, regardless of how they register on an oscilloscope. I have known singers who claimed to have a three-octave range because they could hit a low E, the E an octave above, and high E above that; but that’s only two octaves, not three. That’s another thing about singers: a lot of them can’t count. (I’ve spent much of my career in backing bands or crammed into an orchestra pit, so I may be just that little bit bitter. But I can play three-octave scales!)

    Harold Hekubah’s musical production of Hamlet is my answer to anyone who says that “Gilligan’s Island” is a stupid show. The Offenbach Barcarole is bookended by a couple of arias from Bizet’s Carmen: Gilligan (as Hamlet) sing the “Habanera”, and the Skipper (as Polonius) sings the “Toreador Song”. I didn’t get most of the jokes in that scene until I read the play in high school — and didn’t I laugh then!

    • Once again, your knowledge is much appreciated, Paul. Also deeply appreciated is your intellectual validation of “The Importance of Being Gilligan.”

    • Hah! THe Bacarolle, aka, Elenchor, is missing from that longtime attraciton for years, and it’s NEVER heard in the music for the basis of that GILLIGAN bit, Geores Bizet’s CARMEN, now I know why, it wasn’t even a PART of it!

    • @SJC
      The Barcarolle is missing from the Florida version, not from the Disneyland version in California, where the entire show is intact, along with the original preshow. Both coasts do offer tasty, refreshing Dole Whips.

      As for Gilligan, please watch the posted video of Ginger singing “Hamlet, Hamlet…” which is indeed a parody of “Barcarolle,” as stated.

      The confusion is understandable because, in a lot of places, the Gilligan’s Hamlet musical is said to be based on Bizet’s “Carmen,” but only two of its three songs, “I Ask to Be, or Not to Be” and “Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be”) are “Carmen” parodies. The third is definitely “Barcarolle” (maybe because the castaways were limited to the records packed in the Howells’ luggage,)

  • It is remarkable that Disney would have issued the complete soundtrack of an audio-animatronic show onto a record album that anyone could purchase and own. This might at first glance seem to undercut business for Disneyland, if people could listen to the entire show in the comfort of home. But in those days, travel was not as wide-spread as it is now, plus people didn’t have as much money, and there were those who would never get the chance to experience Disneyland at first hand. So it would appear that the record may have served two purposes–one, as a souvenir album for those who had visited Disneyland and couldn’t get enough, and–two, as an opportunity to hear a complete show (as well as a guided tour of one of the most iconic attractions) in lieu of actually visiting Disneyland.

    Impressive the talent that Disney assembled to make this project happen. And it’s beautiful to see how it all came together when the Sherman brothers put it in a workable context. This is one of the park’s true gems. And now that some of the numbers have been removed from the show, this recording is now the only way to hear the complete version. I’m glad it was preserved on “The Magical Tour of Disneyland” CD set. I did notice the difference between the record version and the CD version of “Heigh Ho.” It’s as though two different choruses recorded it at different times.

    Ravenscroft’s narration for the Jungle Cruise is also not-to-be-missed. Though somewhat tongue-in-cheek, he plays it straight for the most part and replicates the experience as well as can be done through means of audio alone. One thing that confused me when I was younger about this album was that the Adventureland Suite is listed as though it were a separate track, when in fact it serves as underscoring for Ravenscroft’s narration. However, the Suite can be heard on its own on the album and/or CD of “Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland.” Then, on the album, “A Day at Disneyland,” Jiminy Cricket provides his version of the Jungle Cruise narration, again with the Suite used as background.

    A great post, on one of my all-time favorite records!

    • I seemed to recall that Disneyland Records did complete attraction soundtracks for other shows later on such as “Country Bear Jamboree”.

    • Yes! And there were several others:

      “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln”
      “The Hall of Presidents” (from WDW)
      “It’s a Small World”
      “Pirates of the Carribbean”
      “The Haunted Mansion” (in story form)
      “America Sings”

      One could almost go to Disneyland (or Walt Disney World) without leaving one’s home.

  • Great post. The Shermans’ song will now be reverberating in my head for days, but that’s okay.

    A question, though: “It was Walt himself who suggested the singing style of Peruvian-born Yma Sumac for the some of the vocal sections in the show…” Can Ms. Sumac’s voice indeed be heard in the Tiki Room?

    • No, it is not her, but Walt wanted that type of singing instead of just bird calls and whistling.

  • For reference, the vocal range of Mado Robin:

  • Thank you Greg for this terrific story!

    I love George Bruns’ work here. It’s wonderfully understated and not over-orchestrated.

    It should be noted that the recording you’ve posted has added echo to create the feeling to the listener that you’re in a room. The original tracks don’t have that, though there might be some reverb in the vocals and music.

    One day I’d like a story of how the Tiki Room may have been the first modern multi-track recording and playback. Yes, Fantasound earlier was 4 tracks(?) and the Beatles would later push into 4 then 8 track recording(?) for stereo playback but the Tiki Room has a minimum of ??discrete playback tracks? Anyone here know?

  • Fan TAB ulous post, TY! And May we have the “Cast List?”

    • It’s at the beginning of the article, under “Voices”.

    • Thanks, Wayne. I checked in Stacia’s book for further voice details and found that Norma Zimmer, specifically, sang for the Orchids. Muzzy Marcellino is the lead whistle on “Barcarolle.” He also participated in other whistle sections.

  • Greg, thank you for your post with all the information it contained on The Enchanted Tiki Room Disneyland attraction. I especially enjoy that attraction as my father, Art Smith, plays the calypso flute when the singing starts. Art also currently plays on at least six other rides at Disneyland, Including alto flute, flute and piccolo on Pirates of the Caribbean. Art was also the brother of Paul Smith, the Disney composer.

    • Thanks very much for that information, Craig. We need to get credit out in the world for all these talented heroes!

  • Hello, in this post you have the cover art credited to Pete Alvarado “as Bart Doe.” Bart Doe was my grandfather, and was an illustrator in Los Angeles who worked for a Disney during the Fantasia years. He is responsible for the album art.

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