Sunday, June 5, 2005

Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Time!

There's been a revival of interest lately in Tiki decor and kitch, but the real heyday of Tiki mugs, swizzle sticks, lounges and restaurants was circa 1960, around the time that Hawaii became a state (that happened in 1959).  It's a fun part of the 1950s-early 1960s sensibility that John and I enjoy so much.   John has a fairly large collection of Tiki mugs, and one of our favorite restaurants, which we visited just tonight, is KonTiki, an authentic restaurant and lounge of the Tiki lounge era.  The third source of our enjoyment of Tiki stuff is, of course, the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland.  In this entry, I'm going to take you on a quick tour of the Tikis in my life. 

First, let me apologize in advance to anyone who is interested in the religious and cultural history of the Tiki gods.  Honestly, I don't know much about this.  I know it's Polynesian, mostly Hawaiian; but beyond that, I'm going to leave you to research it yourself.  I think it's safe to say that most Tiki merchandise has very little to do with the original Tiki traditions.

Tikis in the House

oddball Tiki stuff sits on top of the record crates.
Our house was built in 1958, and we've done our best to furnish and decorate it mostly from that era.  In the front room, the living room where (unlike Tuffy) we spend very little time, there's this display of unusual Tiki-related items, including our vintage swizzle stick collection.  And along the wall between the living room and the bedroom hall are bookcases that hold nearly as many Tiki mugs (plus Chevron cars, dragon figurines and Wishnik trolls) as they do books.  Our den has a framed repro poster for the Enchanted Tiki Room.  We've also looked at lots of Tiki merchandise from Target, Spencer Gifts and online,  but have mostly resisted the temptation to buy it.  The vast majority of our Tiki collection is over forty years old.

Some of our Tiki mugs.

A couple of our Tiki mugs are from the KonTiki.

Our Enchanted Tiki Room poster is in the tv room.

The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room

The Tiki Roomsign at night, July 2003.

The Enchanted Tiki Room sign at night, 2003.

How could I not love the Enchanted Tiki Room?  It's classic, vintage Disneyland, the first audio-animatronic attraction.  It features music by my favorite Disney composers (the Sherman Brothers, Robert & Richard Sherman), and one of my favorite Disney voice artists, Thurl Ravenscroft, provides some of the voices.  Outside in the Tiki garden, Tangaroa, father of all the Tiki gods, introduces himself in Thurl's distinctive voice.  Inside, Thurl is Fritz, one of the four avian hosts.

Thurl's Tiki avatar, Tangaroa.

Tangaroa talks to the kids. The adults, apparently, aren't listening.

The Enchanted Tiki Room was just refurbished for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary celebration, as seen in a wonderful photo essay on  I can hardly wait to see it in person--and to take pictures of it with the new camera.

Dining with the Tikis

The KonTiki is in the shopping center on the northwest corner of Broadway and Swan.  It was probably at the edge of town when it was built, but the city has since spread out across the rest of the valley, leaving this classic Tiki lounge more-or-less in central Tucson. 

one of the KonTiki signs

I should have taken a better picture of this sign.

Some of KonTiki's exotic decor is in less-than-terrific condition at this point, but it's pretty much all the original furniture and fixtures.  As you might expect, the food is Polynesian.  John had Mahi-Mahi tonight, and I had my usual combination of Polynesian-style barbequed ribs and coconut shrimp.  The food is good, and so is the service.

A Tiki outside the KonTiki    A Tiki inside the KonTiki

Left: a Tiki outside.  Right: another one inside.

Inside the Kon-Tiki, it's dark and exotic.

The KonTiki fills up with twenty- and thirty-somethings most nights, who come for the exotic drinks.  At those times, there's smoking and loud conversation and bad music.  But the actual restaurant section is dark and exotic and peaceful.  We discovered tonight that early Sunday evening is an ideal time to avoid the crowds and enjoy this vintage Tucson treasure.

John's favorite chair at the Kon-Tiki is reminiscent of theAddams Family.

John's favorite chair at the KonTiki.  Note the newly-purchased book Atomic Kitchen, about fun kitchen decor and gadgets of the 1950s and 1960s.

I have a bunch more pictures I'd like to show you, but I've already put in too many for one entry on dial-up.  Maybe another time!



ryanagi said...

Awesome!!! I knew you loved classic 50s-60s decor, but had NO IDEA you were into Tiki too!  I LOVE Tiki! Classic Polynesian and old Hawaii... I've been planning to redo my kitchen in a classic palm tree motiff one of these days soon. I'm just looking for just the right accessories. I have TONS of classic Hawaiian stuff in my house. I'll have to take pics for you.

ondinemonet said...

Karen :)

You just brought back so many memories for me :) I went to the Tki Room in Disneyland when I was a little girl. My sister and I shared a luch together,,,it was tuna salad in a pineapple half...oh it was so delicious, but boy was I stuffed. LOL. Alan and I just bought some Tikis for our yard. :) You made me smile with this entry! :)

Always, Carly :)

deabvt said...

Great stuff! On our wedding night, we stayed at the Kon Tiki hotel outside Philly!