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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » Diana Lai - R.I.P. (Original VIP Hostess for Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room)
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Diana Lai - R.I.P. (Original VIP Hostess for Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room)
Jungle Trader
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2003
Posts: 3755
From: Trader's Jungle Outpost, Turlock, Ca.
Posted: 2009-01-26 08:19 am   Permalink

I think that's me in the second image you posted Miehana. Lower right corner. heheh

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 17, 2004
Posts: 187
From: So Cal
Posted: 2009-01-26 7:52 pm   Permalink

Great article and pictures Miehana! It looks like they got her name wrong in the article though (it looks like Diani Lao?). I forwarded the last picture you posted and here is what she had to say:
"This is the clearest 1963 Tiki Room shot that I have seen of me, even if Walt Disney's face is not verifiable:-) Have never seen this photo before, but I do recall that Uncle Walt was pleased when he found out that I knew all the words (not the meanings) that the tikis chanted. After all, by then I had danced the Hawaiian War Chant with uli ulis (feathered gourds) many times. I was always tempted to hula along during the show, but that would have distracted from the novelty Audioanimatronics."

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Enchanted Tiki Guy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2008
Posts: 143
From: West Hollywood, CA
Posted: 2009-01-27 3:04 pm   Permalink

Dano, Thanks for posting those great memories of Diana! Being a big tiki room fan, I really enjoyed reading stories from a first hand account of the whole process! And LOVED the photos too!!

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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 4089
Posted: 2009-01-27 3:11 pm   Permalink

Classic Beauty!

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Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 9049
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2009-01-27 5:26 pm   Permalink

What a treasure! I nominate Miss Diana to be Tiki Central's VIP Hostess

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 07, 2008
Posts: 436
From: Santa Cruz, CA. norcal
Posted: 2009-01-27 7:13 pm   Permalink

Dano, thank you so much! This really is an amazing story and especially for me as I was probably ushered thru by Diana upon the first few weeks of the Enchanted Tiki Room opening. My 5th. birthday was in June of that year and we always went as a family to Disneyland the last week of June every year to celebrate. I remember what a big deal it was to my folks to see this new attraction and for me it was the true beginning of my love for tiki, and/or tiki style and/or tiki culture and/or Polynesian Pop Culture. Again, Mahalo to your step mom for taking the time to share...
One day, there will be a cure for tiki,
That's the day I'll throw my rum away...

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 04, 2006
Posts: 413
From: Surf's Up, Los Angeles!
Posted: 2009-01-28 1:58 pm   Permalink

What a beautiful post!! I got teary eyed! I worked at Disneyland in the 80's, when the Park was run by Uncle Walt's son-in-law. What she described about Disneyland was true even then, twenty years later. We were given manuals to study on how to create the "Disney Look", and it was taken VERY seriously. To this day, it's hard to me to point using only one finger, or talk to a child without crouching down to his level. And, yes, there were those crazy canoe races at 6 a.m.! It was an amazing, and seriously fun experience. Please thank your mother-in-law for me, Dano, for taking the time to write this down. Have you heard of the "E Ticket" magazine? (I think it's still in publication.) They might be interested in reprinting her letter in one of their issues.

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 04, 2009
Posts: 11
From: Kelly Joyner
Posted: 2009-01-28 5:40 pm   Permalink

I just checked out "e magazine" and it seems this is their last issue. That's a shame because this story would have been awesome for it. Those pics are just too cool.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 31, 2003
Posts: 474
From: los angeles
Posted: 2009-01-29 07:42 am   Permalink

Yes, absolutely! A most incredible and inspiring story. Thanks so much!!

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Joined: Sep 06, 2008
Posts: 3
From: Newport News, VA
Posted: 2009-02-01 07:00 am   Permalink

Thank you. This is an incredibly read (and the pics are nice too)!

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jul 28, 2007
Posts: 20
From: Saint Paul, MN
Posted: 2009-02-02 10:03 am   Permalink

This is just so awesome. Thank you so much for posting it, and give my best to Diana!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 10, 2006
Posts: 1183
From: La Mesa, CA
Posted: 2009-02-04 9:15 pm   Permalink

Thanks for posting this, Dano, and thanks to Diana for taking the time to write it all out.. A very enjoyable read!
It's always interesting to hear about the inner workings of things.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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Bambú Yoo-hoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Posts: 101
From: The Nairobi Room, Umgawa Reef Motel
Posted: 2009-02-05 08:49 am   Permalink

Fantastic Post, Dano! Thank you for sharing Diana's story -- a fascinating read!

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Tiki Kaimuki
Grand Member (4 years)  

Joined: Sep 25, 2006
Posts: 832
From: OAKLAND, baby
Posted: 2009-02-14 3:58 pm   Permalink

VERY well written. There is nothing better than hearing the personal story of someone who was there. Especially someone with such a good memory. Hell, I can't even remember what I did last week. Could be the rum.
Mahalo for sharing this with us!


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 17, 2004
Posts: 187
From: So Cal
Posted: 2009-02-18 3:53 pm   Permalink

Thanks for all the great comments! Well it looks like I am the King of Procrastinators. It took me a while before she wrote down her story and then 4 years to post it here. Too late for E Ticket magazine. But it can be found at Davelandweb at http://davelandweb.com/tikiroom/

For those who may be interested (Sabu) of her experiences at 5 Lanterns restaurant she wrote this to me:

"Nothing really to note about 5 Lanterns. During the college term I worked weeknights at 5 Lanterns and on weekends at Disneyland. On school breaks (Christmas, Easter, holidays and summer) I worked at Disneyland, and my sister Elaine filled in for me at 5 Lanterns. Its sister restaurant was in Covina, owned by the same family. I worked as hostess/cashier there for Mr. Chen, who could compute receipts faster on his abacus than I could on a Texas Instrument calculator that had to be plugged into a wall outlet. The old man let me read and study at the register, so it was ideal for 3 years in college. I had my wedding rehearsal dinner there in 1966. Even though my mother had a restaurant in Hawaii and was an excellent cook, I did not like or cook Chinese food until I worked at 5 Lanterns and ate dinner there every night I worked. The little Chinese I know was also learned from the employees there. I was queen bee among all those guys, so I enjoyed my job there a lot."

Diana and my Dad's Wedding picture 1976

Diana, Dad and Dano at my 40th - leaning up against my Bamboo Ben bar

I planned on sending her this link on her 65th birthday(Feb.7) but again, late as usual.

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