Tiki in Toy Story 3 & California Adventure

Animation building at California Adventure

Disneyland’s California Adventure is somewhat lacking in places to quickly escape the SoCal heat (granted, you may not be all that concerned with that since it’s November and all, but bear with me here).

Little Mermaid on the screen in the Animation Academy

However, the inside of the Animation building on the “backlot” is an air-conditioned oasis that’s also never crowded! It’s very relaxing to sit back and watch the giant screens change as they showcase the art and music from various Disney films.

Toy Story Zoetrope

On display in one of the adjoining rooms is a 3D zoetrope, where these Toy Story figures are spun around and then suddenly appear to be moving fluidly when the strobe light is activated. It’s a pretty cool optical illusion.

Easter Island Moai in Toy Story 3

Behind this is a mock-up of Andy’s room from the movie, and among the car and rock band posters tacked up on the wall is this image of the Easter Island Moai. Because that’s what every teenage boy has up in their room, right? ;)

Toy Story tiki mugs

The director, Lee Unkrich, is into tiki, and one of the crew’s gifts were these Toy Story-inspired tiki mugs with Buzz on one side and a Moai-esque Woody on the other. (Image is from Scottiki, though I first heard about these on Tiki Talk).

Ferris wheel at California Adventure

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More Tiki on Tasting Table

The accolades just keep accumulating for Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco. Bon Appétit named it one of the Top 10 New Cocktail Bars, then a month or so ago it nabbed a spot on GQ’s Best Spirit-Specific Cocktail Bars in America, and now it’s included on Tasting Table San Francisco’s guide to The Best Cocktails & Where to Drink Them. (I had already guessed it would be on there, as soon as I saw the headline.)

Tasting Table chose 15 Bay area bars and restaurants and posted a representative recipe for each one. Here’s what they had to say about Smuggler’s Cove and the drink The Dead Reckoning:

“The tiki bar trend began after American Prohibition in Los Angeles at Don the Beachbomber and at Trader Vic’s in Oakland. The elaborate kitsch palaces then spread around the country and the world until the movement’s decline in the 1980s. Martin Cate, owner of Smuggler’s Cove, has helped restore tiki cocktails to their former glory, offering the original versions of classics like the Mai Tai and the Zombie, along with new cocktails like this one.

2 ounces premium aged rum (such as Cruzan Single Barrel, Mount Gay Sugar Cane or Appleton Estate Reserve)
½ ounce Navan vanilla liqueur
½ ounce pure maple syrup
½ ounce tawny port
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
Cracked ice
1 ounce soda water
Mint sprig and lemon zest spiral, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine the rum, vanilla liqueur, maple syrup, port, lemon juice, pineapple juice and bitters. Add the cracked ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh cracked ice. Top with the soda water, garnish with the mint sprig and lemon zest, and serve immediately.”

– Reprinted from Tasting Table San Francisco

The New York version of the Best Cocktails of 2010 also had some touches of tiki in it. Newcomer bar Painkiller was included, though they skipped over all the rum drinks and instead featured the Negroni Swizzle. Also meriting a mention was the Witchy Woman from the Lani Kai, a Hawaiian-inspired cocktail lounge that’s also fresh on the scene (but lacking in actual tikis, so says the word on the street).

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre – Montclair, CA

Hey, it’s my 100th post! For this little milestone I wanted to feature a tiki spot that’s quickly grown dear to my heart: The Mission Tiki Drive-In in Montclair, which is just past Pomona (home of the LA County Fair).

Maybe it’s all the Oldies (courtesy K-Earth 101) I listened to as a kid, but I’ve always been fascinated by classic drive-in movie theatres. (If you hadn’t noticed, I seem to have a thing for fads of the mid-century.) There’s only about two dozen drive-ins still open in all of California. Many were demolished, burned down under suspicious circumstances or are now “dark” and only host weekend swap meets, like the Santa Fe Springs Drive-In I always see along the 5 freeway.

By happy coincidence, one of the closest drive-in movie theaters to Los Angeles is also tiki-themed! The Mission Drive-in has been around since the 1950s, and in 2006 it was refurbished, upgraded for better sight and sound, and given a tiki makeover. The ticket kiosks are thatched huts lit up with glowing fish floats.

Adults are $7 per person and kids are just a buck, so a lot of families come here. Past the entrance on the left there’s a little hillside with a few Easter Island-style moai among the greenery.

The parking spaces are all inclined so that your car tilts upwards, giving you a better angle to look at the screen. Most people tend to sit in the backs of trucks or bring lawn chairs to sit out in the open air, though you’ll have to stay close to your car so you can hear the audio from your radio.

Each screen shows a double feature of one new release and a slightly older movie in a similar genre. For a few years Mission Tiki had partnered with TCM to do a month of classic movies, but apparently that’s no more — here’s hoping they bring that back sometime.

There are four screens, one in each corner, and a snack bar/projector building in the middle that’s decorated with island-themed murals, tiki pillars, and tiki masks, plus a smattering of bamboo and lauhala matting on the inside.

The snack shack serves up your standard fare of popcorn, pretzels, pizza and hamburgers, along with tacos, asada fries and horchata (mmm). Next time I’m going to have to go for the “Tiki Dog,” a.k.a. a bacon-wrapped Danger Dog.

By the counter there’s a little gift shop (cash only!) that’s open before the movies start. It sells signature t-shirts, hats, posters, and multi-colored plastic Ku cups, but the best is their logo tiki mug clutching a bag of popcorn. Tiki Diablo designed it, and I think there’s still a few up for grabs from the edition run of 150.

Mission Tiki Drive-In Movie Theatre
10798 Ramona Ave.
Montclair, CA 91763