Ever wonder the history of the Orange Bird at Walt Disney World? Who is he? Where did he come from? Why do fans have such an infatuation with this little orange fella?
To be honest, as much of a fan as I am, I have never really taken the time to research it myself. I had a general idea from reading things over the years, but never really paid much attention. The only thing I know, is that I love the little guy and that he’s made an enormous return to fame in the last few years at the parks.
In 1970 the Orange Bird mascot was created for the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) in exchange for them sponsoring Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in the Magic Kingdom. Accompanied by singer Anita Bryant, he was featured in ads for the FCC until the late 70’s when the ad campaigns were dropped.
After that, the Orange Bird took on a solo act and created several educational shorts in the 80’s including Food and Fun: A Nutritional Adventure. In 1987, Disney and the FCC severed ties and the Orange Bird disappeared almost never to be seen again!
Until 2004 that is, when Tokyo Disneyland resurrected the cute little bird! The Japanese fans went crazy over him and we immediately saw a resurgence of love for the Orange Bird! The character received a ton of new merchandising coinciding with Japan’s Annual Orange Day on April 14th. Soon after the Orange Bird started to appear in merchandise in the US, where fans ate him up!
In April 2012, the Orange Bird officially returned to the Sunshine Tree Terrace in the Magic Kingdom, taking on its original perch behind the counter where he was original in the 70s.
The Orange Bird used to be a walk around character in the first decade the Magic Kingdom was open. He could be found wandering around Adventureland near Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. These days, you can longer find him as a character (boy do I wish he would return!!). But he can be found on tons of merchandise throughout the park.
While the Orange Bird is unique the Florida and the Walt Disney World Resort, his merchandise can be found at other parks.
The Orange Bird can also be found in the Disney Kingdom: Enchanted Tiki Room comic series, which had several issue highlighting and focusing on him.
I think the Orange Bird is absolutely adorable and such a unique and classic edition to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Although his popularity has surged back in the last several years, I do wish that there would be a bit more focus on him. His presence in the park is necessary to highlight the beginnings of the park. He is a part of Magic Kingdom’s and Walt Disney’s vintage history.