The Orange Bird
By Lacey Nayden
In 1970, the Florida Citrus Commission contracted with Walt Disney to create the Florida Orange Bird as a mascot for promotional campaigns. In return, the Florida Citrus growers would sponsor the Tropical Serenade in the Magic Kingdom. Into the early 1980s, the Orange Bird was a ubiquitous citrus icon, particularly throughout Florida. But the only place in the world where anyone could actually meet the Orange Bird was at the doorstep of the Sunshine Tree Terrace (pictured below).
The Orange Bird had his own record, which was released in 1971 and featured a tune called "The Orange Bird Song
" that was composed by the Sherman Brothers (who worked on songs for Mary Poppins
) and featured Anita Bryant, the Florida Citrus Commission spokeswoman. The full record included a ten page illustrated storybook that told the backstory of the Orange Bird (the full record can be listened to here
, and another version that has been edited but includes the storybook can be seen here
). The Orange Bird also appeared with Anita Bryant on several occasions from 1969 to 1979.
The Orange Bird appeared on industry magazine covers and also posed with a variety of personalities, including Miss Florida Citrus Queens Lisa Maile (1977), Lori Scirard Grubb (1984), and Losemarie Payne (1986).
The Florida Orange Bird campaign appeared on television, in print media, and in an animated short, which you can see here
Over the years, the official merchandise for the Orange Bird has transitioned from coin banks and salt and pepper shakers to the MagicBand at Disney and souvenir pins along with other paraphernalia.
After leaving Disney in 1986, the Orange Bird returned to the Magic Kingdom Park in April 2012, when an Orange Bird statue was retrieved from the WDI Sculpture Studio in California and returned to the Sunshine Tree Terrace. His official return was announced at the 2012 D23 event (which you can watch here
The Orange Bird's remerging popularity prompted a display at the Orange County Regional History Museum in Orlando, Florida...
...as well as the larger one here at the McKay Archives at Florida Southern College!
All images are covered under copyright laws of Walt Disney World©, the Florida Citrus Commission, and Florida Southern College's McKay Archives.