The Fascinating Story of Orange Bird at Disney

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The Walt Disney Company has created hundreds if not thousands of characters in its 100-year history.

Some, like Mickey and Donald and Goofy, have become icons. Others like Duffy Bear or Figment in EPCOT develop something of a following. However, others fade into obscurity.

For example, have you ever heard of Pluto Jr.? Pete’s wife Trudy Van Tubb? Donna Duck? 

Orange Bird is a character that was in danger of being lost in Disney’s history. An early resident of Adventureland, he held a prominent place in the first years of Disney World. 

But since he was an advertising creation, his hold in the Disney pantheon was tenuous. When the advertising partnership ended, so did Orange Bird. He mainly was forgotten for 17 years. 

But one day, he returned, eventually retaking his rightful place in Adventureland. He became a Disney favorite, almost chiefly based upon his over-powering orange cuteness.


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What is the story of Orange Bird Disney? 

Orange Bird, who is either a bird that has an orange head or an orange with birdlike features, was part of a business transaction between Disney and the Florida Citrus Commission. 

The commission sponsored the Enchanted Tiki Room, first known as the Sunshine Pavilion and then Tropical Serenade and the Enchanted Tiki Birds. Disney created a mascot of sorts, giving the new character a backstory. 

Orange Bird, a silent northerner who neither sang nor spoke, migrated to Florida because of the high-quality citrus. He only communicates with orange thought bubbles and is picked on and mocked by other birds. As a result, he is always looking for new friends.

He was paired with former Miss Oklahoma and singer Anita Bryant, who narrated a record album telling his story. The album featured the song, sung by Bryant and written by the Sherman Brothers, “Little Orange Bird.” It’s certainly not the Sherman Brothers’ best work, and it’s probably not Anita Bryant’s best, either. 

You can hear it on YouTube here.

Despite a controversy that ended Orange Bird’s partnership with Bryant in 1977, Orange Bird survived for 17 years, fading into obscurity when Disney and the Citrus Commission dissolved its partnership in the late 1980s. 

Another 17 years later, Orange Bird made a reappearance at Tokyo Disneyland, and reportedly Japanese Disney guests fell in love with the character, spurring merchandising coinciding with Japan’s annual Orange Day. 

Orange Bird returned to Walt Disney World and the Sunshine Tree Terrace in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland in 2012. 

Sunshine Tree Terrace in Magic Kingdom
Look for the Orange Bird at the Sunshine Tree Terrace (photo by James Overholt/

What is the Orange Bird controversy?

For the first seven years of his life, Orange Bird’s running partner was Bryant who appeared in commercials with him, narrated his story and sang about him.

Bryant was a former Miss Oklahoma who finished second runner-up in the Miss America Pageant. She was also a singer and performer. Her version of “Til There Was You” from the Broadway Musical “The Music Man” was a minor hit in 1959 and inspired, I think, Paul McCartney and the Beatles to perform it live during their shows in Hamburg, later recording their own version. 

Through the 60s, Bryant frequently traveled on Bob Hope’s USO tours to perform for American troops around the world. 

By the early 70s, Bryant was essentially a professional spokesperson, appearing in commercials for Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Holiday Inn and Tupperware. She sang the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at Super Bowl V and at LBJ’s funeral.

She teamed up with the Citrus Commission in 1969 and Orange Bird the following year. 

However, in 1977 Bryant came out strongly against a Dade County, Florida law that prohibited discrimination based on sexual preferences. Bryant’s work helped repeal the law, but her activism led to protests and boycotts of the products she represented, including Florida Orange Juice.

Johnny Carson turned her into a regular punch line in his monologues, and other stars spoke out against her. Her career collapsed and she became famously – or infamously – known as one of the country’s leading voices against the rights of LGBTQ people. 

What Disney movie is Orange Bird in?

Orange Bird is not a movie star. Though, in Hollywood Studios’ Minnie Mouse Meet and Greet Area, there are posters of the “movies”. 

There’s a Tiki Room-themed poster for a fictional movie called “Mouse Pacific” on which Orange Bird appears and is listed as a co-star.

He did appear in a pair of animated shorts, “Foods and Fun: A Nutrition Adventure” and the “Orange Bird and the Nutrition Bandwagon”, as well as some Golden Books. 

Orange Bird Sunshine Terrace
The Orange Bird Sipper at the Sunshine Tree Terrace (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Why is Orange Bird so popular?

Is he popular? I know he’s kind of prominently featured, but Orange Bird is among the deepest of Disney cuts. I imagine there are quite a few people who wander through Adventureland or the various shops with Orange Bird merchandise and wonder who he is. 

That being said, I like Orange Bird. He’s one of my favorite characters in terms of Disney merch.

Why? I have no idea other than he’s so dang cute. 

I suppose there’s the wisps of some long-forgotten memory of interacting with Orange Bird when I was a kid. They had an Orange Bird character who was available for meet and greets in the park’s first decade. 

Maybe I met him or perhaps his Citrus Commission ad campaigns are buried somewhere deep in my memory banks.

Also, I think he’s popular because the Orange Dole Whip is the best Dole Whip, and people associate that delicious citrus swirl with vanilla soft serve ice cream with Orange Bird as well. 

Read Also: 15 Best Magic Kingdom Snacks: What You Should Try, Ranked

The Sunshine Terrace Menu
The menu at the Sunshine Tree Terrace (photo by James Overholt/

Where is Orange Bird in Disney?

To my knowledge, Disney has not yet returned Orange Bird as a meetable character in the parks, but he is in a lot of places in spirit. 

Orange Bird is all over the Disney campus as merchandise featuring the character has become very popular. 

Most prominently, he’s the main character of the Sunshine Tree Terrace, home of the popular Citrus Swirl made with Dole Whip Orange which you can get in an Orange Bird sipper. 

Also, he’s featured in the movie poster in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 

You can also find a tribute to Orange Bird and his place in advertising history in the form of an aged mural in Disney Springs.

Orange Bird pops up in other places as well. 

Read Also: Where Can You Buy Dole Whip at Disney World? 15 Best Locations

Frozen old fashion with dole whip orange at the basket
You can also get a frozen old fashion with Dole Whip Orange at The Basket inside Disney Springs (photo by Kirby Russell/

What kind of Orange Bird merch is at Disney?

Overall, Orange Bird is hot right now. You can find orange bird T-shirts and shorts and Hawaiian shirts and comic books and Christmas ornaments. 

Disney fans who’ve never heard his theme song or the commercials for Florida Oranges line up to buy Orange Bird sippers filled with a soft-serve Dole Whip treat from the Sunshine Tree Terrace

This year’s EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival featured an Orange Bird Stepping Stone. It retailed for $29.99 and was marked down to $19.99 on the Disney website, but it’s currently sold out. 

You can find a decorative figurine at the Marketplace Co-Op as just an Easter Egg. There’s also an Orange Bird Easter egg in the Skipper Canteen’s library in the form of a scholarly work by Dr. Sid Truss (get it?) on the Native Orange Birds of the Southeastern U.S. 

They’ve also got Orange Bird-themed Mickey Ears, coffee cups and even Orange Bird Disney Magic bands. 

The Magic Kingdom park also has tons of cool Orange Bird merch.

Did you know the history of Orange Bird? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of author


John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for LLC – the parent company of and

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