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Our 2024


Return to Paradise: The Mai-Kai Rises Again

Moderated by Jim “Hurricane” Hayward

Friday 11-noon

Don’t miss this exclusive panel discussion that explores the history, the renovation, and the future of South Florida’s beloved Polynesian palace. Get insights from manager Kern Mattei, creative director “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller, and artist Scott “Flounder” Scheidly on the three-year, multimillion-dollar refurbishment. The panel will also include Mai-Kai public relations director Pia Dahlquist, Jesse Muller from landscape architecture firm Perry-Becker Design, historians Sven Kirsten and Tim “Swanky” Glazner, plus more!


Sven Kirsten

Friday noon-1p

While California was the birthplace of American Tiki culture, it flourished rapidly and spectacularly in the warm climes of the Sunshine State. Snowbirds in search for tropical escapism flocked to its shores and roadside islands built to entertain sophisticated savages. But just as fast as these Tiki temples rose up they were razed to make room for newer and bigger tourist castles, often without leaving a trace of their existence and before anybody could document them. Sven Kirsten will present an impressive array of now forgotten Polynesian pop palaces that once dotted the Florida landscape from shore to shore.

Aloha From the Hawaiian Village; A Tribute to Harry Yee

Gregorio Pantoja

Friday noon-1p

 A cocktail revolutionary alongside Ernest Gantt (“Donn Beach”) and Victor Jules Bergeron (“Trader Vic”) Harry K. Yee is a legend whose career bartending in Hawaii started in 1952, 7 years before statehood. He invented the Blue Hawaii cocktail and the Banana Daiquiri, among many others, and is attributed with being the first bartender to use paper parasols and vanda orchids in tiki drinks.

The Samoa: Launching Tiki on Florida's Space Coast

Tom Duncan

Friday 1p-2p

Tom will tell the story of the Samoa, the first Polynesian restaurant on Florida’s Space Coast. Once located in Cocoa Beach, it was a place where rocket men and women found respite at the dawn of the Space Age.

Exploring the Depths: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

“Harpoon Richie” and “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller

Friday 1p-2p

Embark on a captivating journey with this father-and-son artistic duo as they delve into the enthralling history of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the iconic Nautilus, and Disney legend Harper Goff. Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of Disney and movie magic as they share a plethora of captivating stories. Stick around for a Q&A session where you can engage with these storytellers extraordinaire.

Florida: Land of Mermaids

Sergio Figuera

Friday 2p-3p

Ever since Newton Perry unveiled his Weeki Wachee attraction in 1947, mermaids have left a significant mark on Florida. From the refreshing springs in the north to the balmy waters of Key West in the south, and from the captivating adventure coast in the west to the renowned beaches of Fort Lauderdale in the east, the influence of mermaids persists throughout the Sunshine State. Let’s dive in!

Fiesta Key - Florida's Critical Role in Prohibition Rumrunning

Tim Harnett

Friday 2p-3p

The ‘noble experiment’ of prohibition left several cultural and economic scars not just on the US but also the rest of the world. But during those dark times, many enterprising and morally flexible citizens took it upon themselves to keep America wet. Perhaps most importantly, particularly to tiki drink culture, Florida became a central source for smuggled rum into the rest of the country. Many Floridans also took to secretly distilling themselves. 

Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Tiki

Mike Skinner

Friday 2p-3p

Explore the creative world of Walt Disney and his Imagineers and their adventures in Tiki. Hear brand new stories about the history and development of Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, see Rolly Crump’s lost concept art for his never built Hawaiian ‘Disneyland inspired’ theme park near Honolulu, and travel with Walt on his many voyages to the South Pacific. Join us for this voyage into the enchanted land of Disney Tiki.

Dr. Skipper's Favorite Skipper Stories

Join former Disneyland Jungle Cruise Skipper as he recounts his favorite stories from his popular “Skipper Stories” books.   Dr. Skipper will tell stories about the most memorable pranks, wildest guests, and other shenanigans that regularly happen at the Jungle Cruise. 

Mid-Century Resort Fashion: Lilly Pulitzer

Lilly Pulitzer’s early fashions are classic, recognizable, and extremely collectible. Her playfully elegant prints were worn by the stylish elite and made famous by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Join Margo as she delves into Florida’s own resort fashion brand. Learn about Lilly’s start in the business, the artist behind her incredible fabrics, and the print company who brought them to life.

“It Takes a Village” – The History of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

How Bowers

Friday 4p-5p

Trace the resort’s history from Walt Disney’s Epcot city concept to the development of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Explore abandoned plans, the magic of pre-fab construction, and the many small details that made the resort a south seas paradise through archival documents, photography, and resorted films.

Tiki in Different Languages and Visions

Chelo Del Valle Castro

Saturday 10a-11a

Join Chelo in an exploration of Tiki’s cultural diversity.  Is Tiki a culture or a religion is a seminar that delves into how Tiki is represented in different countries around the world.

Little Orange Bird: Tiki, Disney, and the Florida Citrus Commission

Cathy Salustri

Saturday 11a-noon

Orange Bird has captured the hearts of many, but what’s the story behind the little cartoon canary? From its citrus-y start to Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, this melodious mascot has a colorful history.

The Torrid Story of Fassionola

Gregorio Pantoja & Doc Parks

Saturday 11a-noon

Sit back and enjoy the fruits of our detective work through a sultry story of culinary and cultural history and illustrated story of mixology’s most mysterious ingredient – Passionola – now known simply as “fassionola.”  We tell how Passionola touched the lives of music publishers, actors, dancers, soft-porn directors, suspected mob associates, and barmen keen to keep the legend alive.  As it was advertised, P/Fassionola really was the “Taste Thrill of the Century.”

Tiki Gardens: A South Seas Island in Florida

Jon Bortles

Saturday noon-1p

Come visit Tiki Gardens as it once was, a lost Florida roadside attraction in Pinellas County which at the height of its popularity hosted half a million visitors a year. Come along and walk the Polynesian Adventure Trail, see the massive tikis and listen to exotic birds sing. We’ll journey through time witnessing the vision and obsession of Trader Frank Byars and his beloved Wahini Jo, which drove Tiki Gardens’ popularity from its earliest roots as a simple roadside gift shop through its growth as a major tourist attraction, and finally the decline to its final fate as a beach access parking lot.

The Spirit of Adventureland

Charles Thatcher & “Right Guard” Ian

Saturday noon-1p

Join adventurers Charles Thatcher and “Right Guard” Ian for a romp through Disney’s Adventureland history! The land of tropical rivers and exotic flowers at the Disney Parks has served as an introduction for many into the world of tropical escapism and influenced those already familiar. It is truly a story of discovery, romance, innovation, and adventure!

A Sailor’s Adventure

Ed Hamilton

Saturday noon-1p

You never know what you’ll discover when you set sail for the horizon. Forty years ago, Ed’s passion for a sustainable sailing lifestyle led to more than a few adventures along the way.  And the voyage continues.

Don the Beachcomber: Ambassador of Rum

Join me as I plunge the depths of rum’s history with Donn Beach, the Ambassador of Rum. We’ll learn how he started his journey as a kid with his Grandpappy in the Caribbean, then his world travels, and landing in Hollywood to make rum cocktails king.

Mostly True Stories: Haunted Florida

Cathy Salustri

Saturday 1p-2p

Explore legends of hauntings and ghosts throughout Florida. From Key West north, you’ll hear all sorts of ghost stories about Florida. Robert the Doll? The Headless Pirate? Get to know the scarier part of your state and take a closer look at these stories — and feel free, at the talk’s end, to share some of your own.

Polynesiacs Panel: Meet the Floridians!

Tiki Tom-Tom

Saturday 2p-3p

Join Tiki Tom-Tom as he talks with a panel of Florida home Tiki bar creators, all featured in Polynesiacs: Tiki at Home. Gain insights directly from the builders. Learn what’s happened to their bars since the original visit. Consider what makes Florida home bars unique. Ask questions of those who have navigated the complexities of a home tiki bar build.

Tropical Space Age Architecture: The Look of Paradise

Mike Skinner

Saturday 2p-3p

Explore the fun and whimsical world of Tiki architecture as we tour Googie-inspired space age tiki buildings, exotic dingbats, and personal residences showcasing Polynesian Pop design of the 1950s and 60s. In 2011, Mike produced a book, Tiki Architecture: The Fantasy World of Polynesian Pop Culture Design. In this seminar, he will share highlights, design aesthetics, and stories of the people who made these faux Polynesian fantasies an exotic reality.

Mai-Kai Cocktails: Tiki History in a Glass

For more than 67 years, The Mai-Kai cocktail menu has remained frozen in time, a throwback to the golden age of tropical drinks. Jim traces the lineage of the classic cocktails through the years, from Don the Beachcomber to today. Learn the lore and secrets that surround these delicious libations that we can once again enjoy when The Mai-Kai returns from its multimillion-dollar refurbishment.

“A Taste of Paradise” – at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

How Bowers

Saturday 3p-4p

Hear the origins of some of the resort’s iconic edibles and potables, including Tonga Toast and the Lapu Lapu. Discover the Tambu’s “lost” drink, “The Orlando Sour.” Learn how the restaurants’ French Polynesian resort cuisine evolved to the more authentic food offerings we have today, and hula along with the Polynesian Revue as it grew from an opening-month party for Pepsi to become a favorite of vacationers for four decades.

The Jungle Cruise Goes East

A history of how the Jungle Cruise was built at the Magic Kingdom and how it differed from the original attraction at Disneyland.  The talk will end with stories from Magic Kingdom skippers and their adventures in the Jungle.

Elevate your home Tiki Bar Experience

John Atkins & Travis Miller

Saturday 4p-5p

Come join home bar enthusiasts, John Atkins AKA Tiki John (Hidden Oasis) and Travis Miller (Accidental Jibe) to get tips, practical solutions, and even a shopping list of what to have on hand to elevate your home Tiki bar experience. Whether you are a novice or expert mixologist, Travis and John will take you through simple steps from the best spirits, ingredients, bar equipment, and resources to up your cocktail game. John will kick off the session with a brief talk about the Mai Tai cocktail….”The Reality vs Perception of Vic Bergeron’s original Mai Tai recipe” what was then and what is now.

Don the Beachcomber Returns!

Justin Peterson

Saturday 5p-6p

Take a tour through the past, the present, and future of Don the Beachcomber! Join DTB President Marc Brown, Beverage Director Marie King, Creative Director Justin Peterson, and special guests from the DTB Advisory Board as they discuss the opening of the first new Don the Beachcomber location in Madeira Beach, sneak peaks at future DTB locations, and more, with a Q&A session following the panel’s presentation.

Cocktail Classes & Rum Tastings
In addition to complimentary cocktails during the nightly band performances, you can also sign up for these tasty add-ons!

April 4-6, 2025 in Orlando, FL