People of the Attractions: A Life-Changing Tiki Room
In early 2020, as the grim reality of the pandemic unfolded, many folks grew accustomed to enjoying drinks within the confines of their homes.
Jordan Hill, however, took it a step further by building an elaborate tiki bar in the basement of his Ohio house. In doing so, he found his calling—and a way to pursue his dream of working in themed entertainment.
As a child, Hill loved visiting his home park, Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, and going to Orlando with his family for vacations. He became enamored with the industry and was a regular on theme park forums starting at the tender age of nine.
In sixth grade, Hill gave a presentation about working at Walt Disney Imagineering. “I really took to this world,” Hill says. “I wanted to eventually figure out how to find a way into working on these things.” As evidenced by the Haunted Mansion-inspired stretching portraits that have long graced his living room, he never lost his passion.
However, Hill got sidetracked after discovering he had a knack for digital media in high school and subsequently studied media communications in college. He got a job at an ad agency developing motion graphics and working as a videographer.
Somehow, he never visited Trader Sam’s during his many visits to the resorts at Walt Disney World, nor had he been to any tiki bar until a few months before the pandemic shutdown. Nevertheless, he declared to his wife, Sarah (who conveniently happens to be a master mixologist), that he intended to create one from scratch. With her blessing, he got to work.
Using his digital media savvy and newfound skills he honed, Hill filled every square inch of the bar—called Kakau Canteen—with tricked-out props, programmed lights, and more, all tied to an overarching story. For example, visitors who picked up a small idol on a shelf marked “Do not Touch!” triggered a mask that startingly came alive.
After posting progress updates of his tiki bar, industry professionals started taking notice and cheering him on.“At some point, it hit me,” Hill says. “Maybe I could actually do this.”
He shifted gears, started freelancing on attractions-related projects, began looking for a full-time gig in the industry, and eventually landed at Falcon’s Creative Group in early 2022 before moving on to a new role as Lead Video Tech I (Projects) at Universal Orlando Resort in June 2023.
The tiki bar, Hill notes, demonstrated his technical capabilities, but more so, his passion for themed entertainment. Now, the self-described “stupid kid who read about Kings Island online” is helping to design park attractions and having the time of his life.
Since relocating to Florida, Hill encountered a tiki bar roadblock. “We don’t have basements here,” he says. But he has plans to construct a re-themed tropical hideaway in his Florida backyard.