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Almost all of us out there have heard of either Mickey Mouse, Goofy, or Donald Duck. But what about the Orange Bird?
Who is that bird exactly, and why isn’t he as widely known as the rest of Disney’s characters?
Chances are, if you were born somewhere in the 70’s or 80’s, then you know exactly who we’re talking about or at least have heard of him.
If not, then read on and let us share with you the little tale of Disney’s Orange Bird!
Who Is Orange Bird?
Almost 50 years ago, Disney created a little character that looked like both an orange and a bird, as you can tell from the name.
Apparently, this bird used to live far north in the United States but later decided to move to the southeastern United States to a Florida theme park. The excuse behind this trip wasn’t birding migratory habits, but because it seemed that Florida had an abundance of excellent citrus fruits for this little bird to enjoy!
Once he arrived, he took the Sunshine Tree Terrace of Adventureland as his home.
Unlike the other birds around him, Orange Bird couldn’t communicate by talking or singing. Instead, he used to express himself through orange-colored thought bubbles.
As a result of his odd communication ways, he’s usually bullied by the other birds, but that never stopped him from trying to make new ones.
Yet, this doesn’t really explain why Orange Bird appeared, so we dug a little further!
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How Did Orange Bird Get His Start at Disney World?
Before the Walt Disney World Resort opened its doors in 1971, the company used different business sponsors to help back them up and maintain various aspects of the park.
One of the many companies they collaborated with was The Florida Citrus Commission. The company’s goal was to help increase the state’s citrus production and support the Florida citrus growers.
So, they signed a deal with Walt Disney Company that cost them around three million dollars and lasted for over ten years! However, the Florida Citrus Commission had issues with how or what to sponsor that could reflect their purpose.
In the end, they invested in “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room,” where visitors can get orange juice and other snacks from the juice bar.
The deal they signed with Disney also asked for something else; there needed to be a mascot that represented them in Disneyland.
They couldn’t just use Mickey or Goofy, as Walt Disney was adamant about its character not being used for that representation. So they brought together two artists, Don MacLaughlin with Bob Moore, and came up with the design for Orange Bird from scratch.
After that, the public started seeing the bird in short animations like Foods and Fun: A Nutrition Adventure and The Orange Bird and the Nutrition Bandwagon.
Moreover, you can see him in various issues of Disney Kingdoms: Enchanted Tiki Room or in the Little Golden Books collection in a book called The Orange Bird.
Why Did the Orange Bird Vanish for a While?
Initially, everything seemed to be going well between Walt Disney and the Florida Citrus Commission, but the deal ended up costing the Commission a bit more than they anticipated.
As expected, every time the Florida Commission used the Orange Bird, they had to pay Disney a fee because they owned the rights to the character. Plus, after the first ten years were up, the sponsorship’s cost went up from $150,000 annually to $190,000.
The Commission also paid for another juice bar to open in Fantasyland at $135,000. However, neither the original bar nor the new one sold enough juice or snacks to make up for that cost.
What’s more, the voice behind the Orange Bird song, singer Anita Bryant, publicly stated some very questionable opinions, resulting in the Commission dropping her from future work.
Essentially, the Little Orange Bird no longer had a voice or a famous companion in the ads with him. So, when the sponsorship reached its end date, the Commission decided not to renew, and the Orange bird disappeared from the public for a while.
How He Returned
For almost 17 years, the Magic Kingdom (one of the 4 Disney parks at Disney World) was without its Orange Bird. However, in 2004, the Orange Bird made a comeback, though not in America at first!
In Tokyo’s Disneyland, the Orange Bird was taking the guests by storm. Orange Bird merchandise was selling more than ever, and the guests loved how cute the bird looked!
In addition, it was the perfect gift for Japanese partners to express love! While this may sound odd, it’ll make more sense when you realize that there is a holiday, similar to valentine, called Orange Day that the Japanese celebrate.
The main difference between these two holidays is that Japanese partners will gift their significant other something orange instead of pink or red. So, you can see how the Orange Bird played a big part in this holiday!
Regardless, with love for the Orange Bird spreading around, the cute bird finally found its way back to the United States around 2012. The character returned to the Sunshine Tree Terrace, and it seems to be staying this time!
Where Is Orange Bird Featured?
If you’re in Disney World, you can easily find the Orange Bird in Adventureland at the Sunshine Tree Terrance– as that is his home. Over there, you can enjoy a fresh drink of orange juice and a snack.
You can also spot this little fella by Disney Springs! There’s a big mural with him on it just next to Erin McKenna Bakery in The Landing area. It is to promote the Florida citrus industry.
You can also see the Orange Bird at Disneyland in California. You’ll just have to look closely, though, inside Trader Sam’s.
The Orange Bird character is also featured in the McKay Archives at Florida Southern College and in some exhibits at the Orange County Regional History Museum in Orlando.
In Disney’s Hollywood Studios there are posters in Minnie’s meet n greet area. One poster has the Florida Orange Bird flying over the film logo for Mouse Pacific.
We hope this article helped you figure out who Disney’s Orange Bird is. To give you a quick recap, Orange Bird was the result of a collaboration between The Florida Citrus Commission and Walt Disney.
The company needed a mascot to promote itself, so Disney designed a new character instead of using one of its own. He’s a cute bird that only communicates in orange bubble thoughts, which made him a bit of an outcast.
The Orange Bird was also featured in animations, books, and some ads for orange juice. Lastly, after a period of disappearance, the Orange Bird came back and now hangs out at the Sunshine Tree Terrace at Adventureland, where you could visit him.
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