There are gods and goddesses throughout Polynesia that Disney has drawn inspiration for over the years for their attractions, resorts, and films. One deity, however, has been front and center at Walt Disney World for the past 18 years that is wholly a Disney creation. We don’t want to upset her, for obvious reasons, but we’re talking about the goddess of destruction, Uh-Oa.
Uh-Oa currently resides in the rafters of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and has a drink named after her. The Uh-Oa beverage is recommended for two or more guests and is served at both the Disneyland Hotel’s Enchanted Tiki Bar and the Polynesian’s Grog Grotto. While the ingredients are the same, the menus offer two very different warnings. In Disneyland the menu advises, “Whoever is brave enough to conjure up this concoction cursed by Uh Oa, the tiki goddess of disaster, must be forewarned: When you mess with Polynesia, the tiki gods will squeeze ya (often with a lime)!” Meanwhile, back in Florida and Uh-Oa’s home, the cautionary notice reads, “Be forewarned, only the brave should sip from this flaming concoction. The tiki goddess of disaster looks down upon those who guzzle in the Grotto.”
Once ordered by a brave imbiber in the Grog Grotto, Uh-Oa comes to life to offer a warning of her own that harkens back to her original home in Walt Disney World, The Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management. Aside from what the popular belief of what the second incarnation of Enchanted Tiki Room did to build up or tear down the attraction when it was unveiled in 1998, Uh-Oa was goddess who showed up to straighten out Iago after being summoned by the chant of “Uh-Oa, Uh-Oa, Uh-Oa-Oa-Oa.” Uh-Oa was voiced by Armelia McQueen, who children who grew up with the Disney Channel in the early 1990s will recognize as the Red Queen/Queen of Hearts from the live action series Adventures in Wonderland. Back in the Tiki Room, Uh-Oa arrives and through song dispatches the enterprising Iago before disappearing with a maniacal laugh.
When the attraction was refurbished due to a fire in January 2011, it appeared that Uh-Oa had said ‘aloha’ for the last time. When the Grog Grotto opened its doors in 2015, the presence of the Uh-Oa audio-animatronics figure was a pleasant nod to the past.
In reality, there is no historical or mythical figure of Uh-Oa. The Polynesian culture features ‘Oro (the god of war) and Pele (the goddess of volcanoes, fire, and destruction), but Uh-Oa is a strictly Disney creation. Of course, if you choose to partake in her namesake beverage all by yourself, you’ll definitely believe she is the goddess of disaster!