||Diana Lai - Original VIP Hostess for Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
Joined: Jan 04, 2003
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
Joined: Apr 17, 2004
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."
|Enchanted Tiki Guy|
Joined: Aug 14, 2008
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!!
Joined: May 12, 2004
|Posted: 2009-01-27 3:11 pm  Permalink|
Grand Member (6 years)
Joined: Mar 30, 2008
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
When you hurry through life, you just get to the end faster.
Pirate Ship Tree House
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: May 07, 2008
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...
Joined: Aug 04, 2006
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.
Joined: Jan 04, 2009
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.
Joined: Jul 31, 2003
From: los angeles
|Posted: 2009-01-29 07:42 am  Permalink|
Yes, absolutely! A most incredible and inspiring story. Thanks so much!!
Joined: Sep 06, 2008
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)!
Joined: Jul 28, 2007
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!
Grand Member (6 years)
Joined: Nov 10, 2006
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.
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
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!
Grand Member (4 years)
Joined: Sep 25, 2006
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!
Joined: Apr 17, 2004
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.