2015 Tiki Gift Guide for the Holidays – $20 and Under

Snappy Holidays cards and gift wrap by Sophista-Tiki

Now that Thanksgiving is done, it’s full speed ahead to the holidays. In this annual gift guide, I like to spotlight a few fun tiki finds from the last year or so. They’re fairly easy on the pocketbook, too, since they’re all $20 or less.

1. Snappy Holidays Cards and Gift Wrap by Sophista-Tiki

Seattle-based artist Dawn Frasier aka “Sophista-Tiki” brings some mid-century modern flair to the festive season with her “Snappy Holidays” cards and wrapping paper. In her Etsy shop, you can pick up a set of three cards plus a dozen gift tags for $6.50. Meanwhile, the matching gift wrap rolls ($15) in red, green and white can be found on Spoonflower. (Bonus: Spoonflower is offering free shipping just for Cyber Monday!)

Beachbum Berry's Tiki Cocktail Picks

2. Beachbum Berry’s Tiki Cocktail Picks from Cocktail Kingdom

Got some amateur (or pro) bartenders on your shopping list? Help them up their garnish game with Beachbum Berry’s Tiki Cocktail Picks ($11.95 for 36-pack; bulk discounts available). These hot pink spears are modeled after the logo of tiki mixology guru Jeff Berry, complete with his signature straw hat. They’re the latest product from Cocktail Kingdom’s “Tiki” collection, which also includes a Navy Grog ice cone kit, Pearl Diver glass, skull barspoon and swizzle cup.

Ken Ruzic Coloring Book

3. Ken Ruzic Coloring Book

Coloring books are no longer just for the Crayola crowd. It seems like people of all ages are using them as a creative outlet and de-stressing tool. This coloring book from artist Ken Ruzic presents 22 black-and-white drawings adapted from his tiki art, including the inspiration for a piece from Tiki Farm’s 15th anniversary exhibition. It’s for sale for $20 from Wacko / Soap Plant / La Luz de Jesus Gallery’s website.

Tiki Matchbooks calendar by Tom Hofer

4. 2016 Tiki Matchbooks Calendar by Tom Hofer

Tom Hofer creates paper collages designed to look like giant vintage matchbooks. (Bootlegger Tiki in Palm Springs has one up on the wall.) For the past few years, he’s offered “Tiki Matchbooks” calendars featuring his art along with dozens of images of the matchbooks that inspired him. The 2016 version is available on his web site for $15, including shipping (or two for $25).

Martini Kings Palm Springs Serenade red vinyl

5. The Martini Kings “Palm Springs Serenade” Red Vinyl

Everything seems to be red and green this time of year, so why not your vinyl, too? Dionysus Records recently released the final run of The Martini Kings’ “Palm Springs Serenade” album, this time pressed on red 180 gram vinyl. Featuring a cover illustration by Shag, the album is a compilation of the combo’s favorite jazz-lounge-exotica tracks from their CD releases. You can order the LP for $17.95 (including a digital download code) at Dionysus Records’ website.

Related Posts:
2014 Tiki Holiday Gift Guide
2013 Tiki Holiday Gift Guide
2012 Tiki Holiday Gift Guide

The New Look of the Great Ceremonial House at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

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Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was one of the original resorts that opened at Walt Disney World in 1971. Last year, the South Seas-inspired hotel began undergoing major renovations. Some changes have been universally welcomed (Trader Sam’s!), while others are more controversial.

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The “re-imagined” interior of the Great Ceremonial House (i.e. the lobby) was unveiled in December 2014. Many longtime fans of “The Poly” lamented the removal of the grand centerpiece of rock waterfalls and dozens of varieties of tropical plants.

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The new focal point is now above — an impressive display of giant netted fishing floats and rattan lamps that give off a subtle glow. Venture upstairs to see them in all their glory (and get a drink at Tambu Lounge if it’s after 1 p.m.)

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A much smaller waterfall feature has been installed in the middle, but it seems kind of silly in comparison. The concept art included a statue of the Polynesian mascot on top of this, but it hasn’t made an appearance yet. (I’m guessing that’s still part of the plan since the Disney Parks Blog had a merchandise preview for a mini-figurine based on it.) (3/23/15 Update: The tiki has finally arrived!)

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From a practical standpoint, it makes sense why they removed it. (Rumor has it that the maintenance was a major factor.) It also opened up the space for more seating areas for guests waiting to check in or just relaxing. (And if you squint you can see Cinderella Castle off in the distance.)

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The downside is the feeling of stepping into a Hawaiian tropical rainforest has been lost. Hopefully they’ll be able to recapture some of that when they finish the waterfalls along the entrance path from the parking lot.

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Near the elevators you’ll find beautiful concept art from two of my favorite Disney Legends: Rolly Crump for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and Mary Blair for the New Guinea scene of It’s a Small World.

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Just outside the far end of the lobby is Pineapple Lanai, a new walk-up counter serving Dole Whip (pineapple, vanilla or swirl) with the option of getting a souvenir tiki bowl. This is where you get your fix since they removed the self-serve Dole Whip machine from Capt. Cook’s.

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So far, the restaurants ‘Ohana, Tambu Lounge and Kona are still relatively the same, but Capt. Cook’s recently received a makeover. (Stay tuned for a full review.) And as I mentioned, on its way very soon is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, Orlando’s own version of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.

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On top of that, there’s the April 1st debut of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, featuring 20 brand-new Bora Bora Bungalows perched over the Seven Seas Lagoon. They were built for Disney Vacation Club members but guests can also rent these two-bedroom accommodations for upwards of $2,000 per night, reportedly. (I love Disney, obviously, but that’s more expensive than staying at some of the actual overwater bungalows in Tahiti…)

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For more information on the renovations, I suggest checking out Steve’s updates on Tiki Man Pages. He also discussed Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto more in depth on episode 71 (March 2, 2015) of the Enchanted Tiki Talk podcast.

Tiki Treasures from The Story of Disneyland Exhibition & Auction at Van Eaton Galleries

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Right now, the two-room space at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks (LA area) is so full of Disney treasures that it may be the next best thing to visiting The Happiest Place on Earth itself. (Also, it’s free and you’re probably less likely to catch measles.)

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It’s all part of The Story of Disneyland: An Exhibition and Sale, one anonymous person’s massive collection that will be auctioned off piece by piece on February 28 & March 1, 2015. A substantial portion of the items are on view to the public through February 27, Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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The colorful castmember uniforms ($400-$600) from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room were so popular that the fabric was sold in Adventureland stores. There were a few different patterns, with my favorite being the one featured here on the left (closeup on Instagram). On the right is a vintage hostess costume ($900-$1200) complete with nametag from the now-defunct Tahitian Terrace restaurant. In the middle is an original Enchanted Tiki Room attraction poster ($10,000-$12,000).

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The Adventureland piece with the highest bidding estimate — $20,000-$30,000 — is this animatronic member of the Enchanted Tiki Room’s chorus from the 1970s. It was apparently purchased from an Imagineer who worked on the Tiki Room and it still has all the original hardware inside.

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The same can’t be said for this feathered friend, so he’s valued a little lower at just $18,000-$20,000. How did this little birdie fly away? A cast member received it as a retirement gift from their supervisor! (Sure beats a gold watch.)

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Recognize this? It’s the finial that sat atop the A-frame ticket booth at the entrance to the Enchanted Tiki Room. According to the catalog, an Imagineer rescued this one-of-a-kind piece ($15,000-$20,000) from demolition when the bamboo and wood structure had to be torn down in 2000. Later, renowned carver Leroy Schmaltz of Oceanic Arts was commissioned to make a wooden base for it.

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Not everything will cost you beaucoup bucks, though. There are lots of things in the $100-$200 range, like these Disneyland Moai salt and pepper shakers from 1956. (These seem to appear on eBay for less every now and again, but the attention for this particular auction will surely drive up the price.)

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Now this face I really couldn’t place. Turns out it’s one of three handpainted “Nature Tree Masks” ($2,000-$4,000) that adorned the trees near the loading area of the Jungle Cruise for a few years around 1956.

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There are also six “Tangaroa-Ru Babies” that descended from the flowers of the Tangaroa tree of life at the end of the Enchanted Tiki Room pre-show. Disney Legend/Imagineer Rolly Crump designed these based on Polynesian carvings. They’re estimated to go for about $3,000 each. The deep-pocketed collector could be well on their way to building their own authentic Enchanted Tiki Room.

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Rolly Crump also designed these smaller ceramic versions ($200-$400) that were sold as souvenirs at Disneyland. The catalog notes that they’re rare finds.

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Many of the artifacts were once Disney property or official souvenirs, but there are also stashes of visitors’ personal slides and photographs from over the years. I adore this picture of these ladies posing with the Marquesan tiki that used to be in Adventureland. It’s part of a bundle of 10 amateur photos at Disneyland circa 1956-1959.

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You can browse through the entire collection in the 300-page online catalog, which is also available for purchase in a soft-cover version ($30) and a hard-cover edition ($95, including a complimentary soft-cover copy). (There’s a section dedicated to Disney World’s Polynesian Resort starting on page 287.)

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Which of these items would you bid on if you had unlimited funds? I’d love this flower boat ($12,000-$15,000) from Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room as the centerpiece for my own tiki room. Or perhaps the Pirates of the Caribbean skeleton ($60,000-$80,000) guzzling liquor for more of a Smuggler’s Cove style…

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The Story of Disneyland
Van Eaton Galleries
13613 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
818-788-2357