Where Did the Orange Bird Come From?

Where Did the Orange Bird Come From?

The Orange Bird. What a cute little character. If you keep an eye open you can usually spot
this bird over in Adventureland, and these days you can definitely spot the Orange Bird
on countless pieces of Disney merchandise, from keychains to magic bands to even dresses. That said many guests, especially younger
ones, might be wondering “Just who is the Orange Bird, and where did he come from?” To find out we have to go back to 1969, just
two years before the opening of Walt Disney World. Like much of the park, and like most of Disneyland
over in California, Disney planned to use corporate sponsorships to help pay for the
construction and upkeep of attractions. One organization that was eager and willing
to work with Disney was the Florida Citrus Commision, a board of appointed representatives
of the state’s citrus growers, processors and packers. However they couldn’t really figure out
what, exactly, to sponsor. There weren’t any rides or attractions that
felt like a perfect fit. So at Disney’s suggestion they sponsored
the closest fit which was the tropical themed Enchanted Tiki Room. For $3 million dollars and a ten year commitment,
the Florida Citrus Commision would sponsor the attraction, along with a connected juice
bar that would sell orange juice and other snacks. As part of the sponsorship the attraction,
which was named “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room” over in Disneyland would be renamed
to the “Tropical Serenade” in the Magic Kingdom. This name would stick around until 1997 when
it was eventually replaced with the “Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management”. The juice bar would be named the Sunshine
Tree Terrace, and it’d would operate there for 44 years before switching locations with
Aloha Isle Refreshments which was also in Adventureland. The sponsorship would also call for one more
thing. The Citrus Commission wanted some kind of
character identifier with Disney that they could use for not only the park and juice
bar, but also at events outside of The Magic Kingdom. Disney, however, was not about to let any
of their iconic characters be used for that representation. They were very protective of that kind of
thing. So instead Disney, opted to design a new character
and mascot from scratch, and so the Orange Bird was born. The character wasn’t wildly popular or anything,
but the Orange Bird did well for himself all things considered. He could be found as a walk-around character
in Adventureland near the Sunshine Tree Terrace. A cartoon version of the Orange Bird was also
featured in commercials and two educational films, one called “Foods and Fun: A Nutrition
Adventure” and the other being “The Orange Bird and the Nutrition Bandwagon.” There was even a record put out with songs
written by the famous Sherman Brothers and performed by Anita Bryant that told the story
of the Orange Bird. Everything was just peachy, but it also turned
out to be pricey for the Florida Citrus Commision. Since Disney owned the rights to the Orange
Bird, they had to pay a fee for every appearance the bird made. On top of that when the sponsorship was renewed
after the initial ten years, the rate for the sponsorship went up from $150,000 a year
to $190,000 a year. Additionally they paid another $135,000 for
a second juice bar in Fantasyland. Ultimately the two bars wouldn’t end up
selling enough snacks to make up the costs of the sponsorship. To Disney that didn’t matter. Their outlook on sponsorship was that it was
more of a form of advertising than one of direct sales. It was also a means of boosting the brand’s
image by being associated with a company as beloved at Disney. On top of that, since the commision represented
a number of small local businesses, the back-and-forth of negotiating rates, advertising, and terms
was more difficult for both parties. Typically Disney was used to working with
companies one on one. So in 1987 when the sponsorship extension
reached its end, the Florida Citrus Commision decided not to renew, and with the loss of
the sponsorship came a loss of the Orange Bird. For 17 years the mascot wasn’t much but
a memory for those who visited in the 70s and 80s. Then in 2004, in Japan of all places, the
Orange Bird made a comeback. Merchandise for the character was made for
Tokyo Disneyland and guests loved it. They took to the cuteness of the Orange Bird. The character eventually found its way back
to the states and by 2012 the Orange Bird was once again a featured character of the
Sunshine Tree Terrace. Since then, his popularity has only grown,
with all sorts of Orange Bird merch being introduced. The Orange Bird even made a cameo appearance
in the 2016 comic book series “Disney Kingdoms: Enchanted Tiki Room”. In my opinion the Orange Bird is a testament
to the talent of the folks behind the Disney company. While he’s no Mickey Mouse, what started
as a minor sponsorship mascot has become a cult character loved by many. Nearly 50 years old, he’s yet another part
of Disney World’s rich history.

60 thoughts on “Where Did the Orange Bird Come From?

  1. Also, I hadn't actually realized that the Dole Whip and Citrus Swirl stands switched places (I never made a point of visiting either until after the change), but now that you mention it, it makes sense–I'd always vaguely associated the Orange Bird with the spot where Aloha Isle is now.

  2. Tomorrowland was so goddam heavy handed, tedious and a nothing moment. Also good video, maybe someday I can have the pleasure of visiting Disneyland

  3. Interesting Disney writer in this-Orange Bird in Nutrition Adventures (1980) is a 32-page comic book with three separate stories written by Diana Gabaldon and drawn by Tony Strobl. Diana Gabaldon is the writer of the Outlander series-definitely a not for Disney series.

  4. So the orange bird that people obsess over was born out of…orange juice…huh. (also the furry character version of him is TERRIFYING)

  5. As a Californian, I was never aware of the Orange Bird in Orlando. Thank you for this, I really enjoyed it. But, can you explain why Duffy the Bear is so big in CA now? I've tried to figure it out, maybe I'm just not researching enough

  6. How do you not have a million subscribers?! Your videos are so well researched and informative!  Very well done, as always!

  7. He's now a funko pop, exclusive to Disney World which was released on September 8th. Sold out fast. Woke up at 5am to get him in Disney Springs at 10am. Luckily I was on vacation so I was staying close to Disney Springs and I'm so glad to have him in my collection.

  8. Although oranges and orange juice give me migraines, I have fond memories of the Orange Bird from visiting WDW as a child. His cuteness leaves me conflicted. 😀

  9. my grandma had a lot of items with the orange bird on it from the 70's and early 80's. Living in Florida we saw it all over "outside Disney" A local orange farm in Clearwater Florida had shirts ,cups and shot glasses for tourist . Most items had a type of Disney logo on them. My school in 2nd grade had a Orange day and someone came dressed up as the Orange bird from a orange juice company. I really forgot it about until I saw this video. I guess I grew up with the bird being a part of Florida orange juice/farmers companies so it never really seem like that big of deal. My sister ended up with all my grandma's collections . So today would this items be rare Disney things or more part of Florida OJ ? LOL

  10. Having now learned about the Orange Bird I want to know the history of the other Disney bird associated with Florida Orange Juice. Can you do an episode on Donald Duck Orange Juice?

  11. Lol the disneyland sponsorship (which is dole) sells one of the best things probably being sold in a disney park. DOLE WHIP. ITS SO GOOD

  12. Orange Bird also had at least one comic book in the 80's, I know because I remember reading it over and over and over when I was a kid.

  13. Florida Orange Commission…Orange Bird…AH, now I get why I've never seen him in all my visits to Disneyland (native Californian, never been to WDW). Surprised he didn't make any appearances in Disneyland back then. Y'know, they grow oranges in California too (then again, Dole had the Tiki Room tied up there).

  14. I went to Disney world back in 2014 and I got a Orange bird magnet. I didn’t know who he was , but I thought he was cute . He has a Mickey Mouse hate on and says squeeze me! It says Disney and Florida to me . Now I know who is thanks you. My family and I are going back to Disney World in January I’ll be on the lookout for him .

  15. tbh I didn't know about the orange bird until about two months ago when I moved to Florida from Southern California .. its weird but I think its really cute and it makes sense to me mostly because wdw is in Orange County and dlr is also in Orange County and both states are known for oranges

  16. Totally remember this little guy as a kid – I noticed that the large figurine over the Sunshine Terrace came back a few years ago… it's funny how he had helped liven up that little corner of the park. Oh, I wish you'd also made mention of the wonderful orange-and-vanilla ice cream swirl dessert they serve at that shop! Unlike the Dole Whip, it appeared to me that they made it with actual oranges (well, in the past they sure did).

  17. I'm from Peru and started going to Disney World 3 years ago. As oranges seemed to be the symbol of the state, I assumed that the bird was like a Disney mascot for Florida XD

  18. UH Donald Duck Orange Juice was prior to orange bird and still going strong. And the contract forbade use of Disney Chars. There for Orange Bird.

  19. Wow! I, too, wondered who that darn Orange Bird was when I started seeing him on merchandise at WDW several years ago. Paul, your thoroughly researched vlog on the Orange Bird makes me not only a fan of the O.B., but a fan of you! Now to watch all your videos.
    Hey, have you ever thought about doing a vlog on Kenny Ortega? I find his directorial history with Disney fascinating. He directed both "Newsies" and "Hocus Pocus", released in 1992 and 1993 respectively, and both bombed at the box office. He then went on to direct the monster Disney Channel smash "High School Musical." And his two early 'failures'? Well "Newsies" and "Hocus Pocus" have such strong cult followings that Disney finally brought "Newsies" to Broadway to great box office success and "Hocus Pocus" is now a Halloween staple and celebrated at the Magic Kingdom during MNSSHP. I would love you to delve into this story! Pleeeeze???

  20. Me: (sees someone with an orange bird dress) I like your orange bird dress

    Dad: who the hell is the orange bird

  21. This video seems to completely ignore the most interesting part of The Orange Bird's history, why the oversight?

  22. Not just a Disney icon…a FLORIDA icon!  And, it should be noted, little OB made appearances in the Miami Orange Bowl Parade; whether as a costumed character, or a parade float motif.  Either way, just the sight of the little guy makes me crave all things orange: slices, juice, gumdrops, Tic-Tac candies, popsicles, etc.  The Disneyland Records story & songs album was one of the first my parents bought for me as a 5-year-old kid.  I even got a plushie of him perched in the middle branches of our living room Christmas tree.  So to me, OB ranks right up there with Winnie the Pooh.  (Hmm, would honey with oranges?  Think-think-think…)

  23. I love the Orange Bird- unfortunately it's bittersweet because the character and partnership were a sign of how healthy and robust the citrus industry in Florida (especially around Orlando) was back when Disney World was built. Now the citrus industry is floundering as most of the trees in the state are dying of greening disease. The groves that used to be around Orlando (and surrounded WDW in its early days) are all but completely gone thanks to severe freezes in the 1980's which killed many trees and drove farmers out of business. And today, any remaining groves that survived the freezes are being finished off by the greening disease. It has opened the land up to greedy developers who have built wall to wall houses and business on the once beautiful land. Now any remaining citrus groves, farms, or any rural land for that matter near Orlando is being paved over as more hordes of people move to the area each year.
    It's actually amazing at how long the land on the west and north side of WDW remained undeveloped. Only just recently, most of that remaining land which was once citrus groves is finally being developed. On the west side, they are making it into a huge residential community called "Horizon West." While WDW still has a lot of green belt that they own, they are quickly becoming completely surrounded by development.

  24. ahhh! 😍 omggg, orange bird is so dang cute! every time i see him i just wanna squeeze him, no pun intended! haha. he really did spark my interest into all things related to disney parks' past, plenty of which i've learned from you Rob 🙂 now really is orange bird's time to shine and i'm so happy he's finally getting the respect & adoration he deserves! lol 🧡

  25. Fun fact: Anita Bryant was a raging homophobe that was known for starting a campaign to spread her homophobic bs back in the late 70s. This led her to famously get pied in the face on live television.

  26. How about doing something on the airstrip just outside the Magic Kingdom parking lot that is now used as a parking lot itself?

  27. I bought an orange bird Creamsicle in the Canada pavilion at the Epcot international flower and Garden Festival. Is this the same orange bird?

  28. My boyfriend's mom had like a plastic cup of this character with a straw and I had never heard of this bird so thank you

  29. I never heard about the orange bird before I watch this video but I have heard of an other bird Disney made the aracuan bird😁

  30. Got two figures of this cutie in a little baggie of vintage toys I bought from an antique shop, thank you for the video it's nice to find out who he is!

  31. Thanks. A couple years I went to Disney, I kept seeing the dress with the orange bird. I was wondering what's up with the cute bird. Thanks Rob.

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