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The Orange Bird

By Lacey Nayden

The Orange Bird mascot standing outside the Tropical Serenade in Disney World

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 mascot with a group of children

The sign for the Sunshine Tree Terrace, featuring the Orange Bird on top

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 Orange Bird also appeared with Anita Bryant on several occasions from 1969 to 1979.

Listen to the full record

The cover of The Orange Bird record: "Walt Disney productions' The Orange Bird. Four Complete Songs. The Orange Bird Song, Sing All Day, A Cat Don't Like..., I'll Fly The Sky-way"

The Florida Citrus Sunshine Pavilion There are hundreds of magnificently plumaged birds in Florida, both native and imported, but few possess the winning personality and appeal of a small orange colored character that nests in the Sunshine Tree at Walt Disney World. The Sunshine Tree, for the benefit of millions  of visitors who will tour Walt Disney World each year, is located in the Sunshine Pavilion, an exotically attractive exhibit and show area sponsored by the Florida citrus industry The ORANGE BIRD was created by Walt Disney Productions expressly for use by the Florida citrus industry as a promotional personality. More about the ORANGE BIRD is told in song in this 45 RPM record by Anita Bryant, the official spokeswoman for the Florida citrus industry, who teams with the ORANGE BIRD in a number of television commercials certain to appeal to viewers of all ages. Incidentally, the ORANGE BIRD doesn't talk, sing, or whistle, but manages expression through orange thoughts that prove adequate for every situation.

Richard Sherman with an Orange Bird figure

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 Rosemarie Payne (1986).

Citrus and Vegetable Magazine. Safety Issue: Disney World plans citrus celebration. World citrus congress program highlights. The cover image is of Lisa Maile with the Orange Bird 

Lori Scirard Grubb with an inflatable Orange Bird

Rosemarie Payne with the Orange Bird mascot

The Florida Orange Bird campaign appeared on television, in print media, and in an animated short.

A 10 cent coupon featuring the Orange Bird reads, "Save 10 cents here and now... during this springtime promotion on orange juice from Florida!"

The Orange Bird Sweepstakes reads, "Win 1001 prizes! Including 10 all-expense family vacations to Walt Disney World - The Home of the Orange Bird"

An orange juice advertisement featuring the Orange Bird reads, "Think Orange. A day without Florida Orange Juice is like a day without sunshine."

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.

The front of an Orange Bird coin bank

The back of an Orange Bird coin bank

An Orange Bird MagicBand

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.

Watch the D23 2012 Announcement

The Orange Bird's remerging popularity prompted a display at the Orange County Regional History Museum in Orlando, Florida...

The Orange Bird display in Orlando, featuring coin banks, bells, a pitcher and a glass. well as the larger one here at the McKay Archives at Florida Southern College!

An Orange Bird stuffed doll and story book

The Orange Bird display at the McKay Archives

The Orange Bird display at the McKay Archives

The Orange Bird display at the McKay Archives

A Disney World Florida plate, showing a map of Florida and several Disney characters.

The Orange Bird display at the McKay Archives

A magnificent full-color illustrated book and long-playing record from the Walt Disney studio. The story and songs of The Orange Bird, starring Anita Bryant

All images are covered under copyright laws of Walt Disney World©, the Florida Citrus Commission, and Florida Southern College's McKay Archives.