This is a little story about Disney’s Orange Bird!
Here he is…
Orange Bird was designed in1969 by C. Robert “Bob” Moore, and first emerged in 1971 at the Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World. He was originally designed as the mascot for the Florida Citrus Commission, as they sponsored the Enchanted Tiki Room there as well as the Sunshine Tree Terrace. Before the Park opened in 1971 though, Orange Bird was already a popular character in the state of Florida.
After the opening of Disney World, a walk-around, costumed character was created and the famous little bird greeted fans near the Enchanted Tiki Room entrance at the park. The costume was designed by a Disney legend, Bill Justice, who also designed many of the other costumes for Disney’s walk-around characters.
Orange bird was not only known at Disney World but being he represented the Citrus Commission throughout the State of Florida he was seen on commercials, and attended events all over the state! He was often seen with singer, Anita Bryant:
Anita Bryant was basically Orange Bird’s voice, as she conveyed what he was thinking, he never spoke. They starred in commercials together, sang songs together, she read books to him, they were a hit!
The popular team lasted about a decade, but in 1977, after Ms. Bryant became vocal about her opposition for the Anti-discrimination act that was proposed in Miami that year; and began being especially vocal about her opposition toward the gay community, her image tarnished, and the Florida Citrus Commission dropped her. Orange Bird no longer had a voice, and even though Orange Bird was not part of the boycott that involved Anita Bryant, he would not survive long without her. Commercials were pulled, records stopped selling and soon Orange Bird too disappeared and would be forgotten.
Being from California, where I was raised, I never heard of Orange Bird, he never made it out to the West Coast since he was Florida’s mascot. I didn’t know the cuteness I was missing!
Some time around 2004 Orange Bird had a new emergence of fans starting in Japan, he soon appeared as a walk-around character at Tokyo Disney and new merchandise was being manufactured,,,, thus began a resurgence of his popularity all over the world! Orange Bird was back! And today, he is bigger than ever! Merchandise with Orange Bird’s likeness is everywhere: from earrings, to plush, pins to hats, fabric to dresses to handbags, everyone knows Orange Bird and probably owns a little something with his face on it!
I even have few pieces of his merchandise:
Orange Bird is a favorite in my family. Recently, I painted this picture of him:
And my dad, who decorates his yard for Christmas with a bevy of cartoon characters, has added Orange Bird in the last couple of years:
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And just one more: