BACKSTORY (June 1962—1993): The Tahitian Terrace provided guests with dining & entertainment inspired by the islands of Polynesia and operated during the summer and on busier weekends. “Planters Punch Tahitian” was a popular drink (a blend of tropical fruit juices), served in a tall cylindrical glass. For the show, the waterfall curtain parted and the band filled the air with island rhythms. With graceful hip and hand movements, the dancers gave a tour of Polynesia. To add to the authenticity, the dancers emerged from backstage wearing sarongs, grass skirts, or other traditional garments, as appropriate for each island. Then the lights dimmed for the daring barefoot firewalk and the thrilling fire-knife dance. Flames leapt from the water. In 1993, Aladdin’s Oasis Dinner Show replaced the Tahitian Terrace, but lasted only two seasons. The former Tahitian Terrace facility is no longer used as a dinner theater.
From the back of the menu:
Welcome to the wondrous realm of Polynesia . . . the Tahitian Terrace! Here Walt Disney has opened wide the portals to an enchant-ing island world across the blue Pacific...a world of romance, beauty, and exciting entertainment!
Towering high above you is an amazing tree, a tree that grew (in less than a year) to a height of 35 feet through a secret formula of Walt Disney and his “imagineers”! The branches of this “species Disney-dendron” are laden with more than 14, 075 hand-grafted leaves and fiery-colored flowers that bloom perpetually. Today this tree is Disneyland’s second largest of this rare, unnatural species, exceeded only by the Swiss Family Treehouse.
Nestled beneaththe tumbling waterfall is a matchless stage setting…a stage whose “curtain” is a cascade of water, and whose “footlights” are a leaping flame of fire burning on the water itself! For your summer evening entertainment, the falls magically draw aside . . . and out from behind the waters, sarong-clad natives appear to perform the swaying rhythms and amazing rituals of the islands . . . the hypnotic bare-foot fire walk and thrilling fire-knife dance, and the traditional grass-skirted “twist” of Samoa, Tahiti and Hawaii. (The dedicated student will note how the story-telling technique varies from island to island . . . here a hip movement, there the entire torso.)
This unique amphitheater, Disneyland’s Tahitian Terrace, is open on Summer afternoons for your dining pleasure, and every Summer evening, for dining and polynesian shows. Sunday evening, dining only.
Even though it was 30 years ago (1979) and only for one summer season, my stint at Disneyland, at the Tahitian Terrace is a memory I will always keep. I travelled 40 miles one way from Riverside to take a job as a dishwasher. It was the only job available for me at the time, but I didn’t care, I was going to work at Disneyland! Maybe I had (still do?) pixie dust in my eyes, but it was one of those rare occurrences when I was delighted to go to work each day, through the heat, the smog, the traffic, listening to the Main Street Electrical Parade in my '65 Ford Falcon’s cassette deck rolling down Hwy 91 to The Happiest Place on Earth. I remember being late night guinea pigs to test Big Thunder and the chocolate cake in the commissary, yum!
The TT worked in shifts unlike regular restaurants where you come and go as you please. They had set times for the dinner and show. The doors would open for a dinner and the place fills up with guests choosing their menu selection, probably some form of teriyaki steak (sponsored by Kikkoman!) or the coconut shrimp while sitting under a Disneydendron. Then the exotic show begins! The waterfall parts, lovely ladies dance, mysterious men play with fire, corny jokes are told, men are prodded up to the stage and given hula lessons then it’s over. The guests are ushered out and wham! The dishwashing area is absolutely slammed with piles and piles and piles of dishes, cups, plates and bowls. These dishes are needed for the next show. Franticly the dishes are swept clean, rinsed off and thrown into the dishwasher, and then out they came steaming hot, piled up and carried over to the kitchen. Back and forth, more dishes, more soy sauce rinsed, more non-eaten kids meals rinsed away, into the dishwasher. Then just as suddenly as it started, it ended…nothing, no dishes coming in, we’re done. Until the next show and some 30-40 minutes later, wham! It’s starts all over. I loved it. It’s time to bring it back; the show is about to begin.
Be sure to check out Darryl's blog.