Next time you’re downing a Dole Whip Float inside this magical haven, be sure to thank the Cold War!
If someone told you that the singing birds, dancing flowers, and all the other incredibly memorable “tiki room” moments were powered by the same secure technology of nuclear weapons – you probably wouldn’t believe them, right? We are talking about the Happiest Place on Earth, after all.
Thanks to a study by KCET, it’s been discovered that early machinations of the wildly popular tiki room animatronics were indeed using technology from the 1950s U.S. nuclear weapons program to bring you a wonderful show.
Before the park opened back in 1955, Walt Disney read a series of Wernher von Braun‘s articles detailing trials and successes of a space program. Soon after, Von Braun helped Disney with the mechanics of the park while serving as a technical advisor. Von Braun eventually expanded his role with the now infamous theme park and ended up hosting three episodes of a show called “Walt Disney’s Disneyland” for ABC.
To have been a kid in Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room in the '60s…
(Disney TV Special, 1969). pic.twitter.com/R4fPenDK04
— Mood:Vintage (@moodvintage) April 26, 2018
Walt Disney’s dream of a captivating Polynesian animatronic show didn’t come to life until after the successful 1960 launch of the Polaris missile from a submarine. Scientists were able to figure out certain methods to control the environment and built an audio control system as the submarine shifted through waters. In an article, KCET stated that “this new technology, invented to deliver nuclear destruction, proved exactly what Disney needed for his wonderland developed for children.”
The Polaris magnetic tape system allowed Disney’s team to create a show where birds sang in tune with one another and for the lights and music to be directed beforehand. Matter of fact, the Tiki Room became the first air-conditioned attraction at the park because the massive computers controlling the show beneath the floor made the rooms so hot! Till this day, you’ll see long lines for this show on a hot summer day.
Also published on Medium.