Example: [Collected via e-mail, June 2008]
Origins: Given how often critics have disdained the Disney theme parks' recreations of architecture and natural phenomena by describing them with such dismissive terms as "artificial" and "plastic," Walt himself would probably be amused to see that someone was trying to pass off a completely artificial Disney theme park artifact as a natural phenomenon.
The tree pictured above is not found in India, its trunk does not naturally grow figures shaped like animals, and it is not a real life form. This tree can be found in Orlando, Florida, where it is one of the few artificial trees among the
Located in the Discovery Island portion of the Animal Kingdom park, the Tree of Life — one of the most photographed objects in all of Walt Disney World — was described as follows in a Disney press release:
It is impossible to resist a closer look at The Tree of Life, which stands
Carved into the tree's gnarled roots, mighty trunk and sturdy branches is a rich tapestry of more than
And because it wouldn't be a tree without being able to sway in the wind, a giant expansion joint encircles the tree at each branch unit.
"The Tree of Life is a technological marvel, but it's also
Disney's Animal Kingdom guests first encounter The Tree of Life after they stroll through The Oasis, a lush garden setting alive with streams, flowering glades, waterfalls and animals that include iguanas, sloths, macaws and other fascinating creatures. As they continue past the animals and walk through a series of grottoes, guests are treated to their first incredible view of The Tree of Life.
"We want you to look up at it, to regard it with awe and wonder and to translate those feelings to the real animal world," Rohde says.
Where The Tree of Life's giant roots twist over and into the earth, they meld with a quiet landscape of pools, meadows and trees that becomes the natural habitat for flamingoes, otters, lemurs, axis deer, cranes, storks, tortoises and even red kangaroo. Guests can watch from several viewing locations without disturbing the animals as they go about their lives. Invisible barriers exist between animals and guests which appear to be part of the natural terrain.
After guests meander along a pathway through the extensive maze of roots, they discover entry inside the massive trunk to a
While following the pathway that leads to the show, guests can view The Tree of Life from every angle. They see a waterfall rushing from the tree into one of the feeding pools. They spot a dinosaur sculpting formed by the "dead" wood around the tree's base. They continue to discover sculptings that include an armadillo, an elephant, a camel, a baboon and hundreds of others.
"We want our visitors to wander up to the tree, to recognize animals and seek out others," says Zsolt Hormay, Tree of Life chief sculptor and senior production designer. "Some are more recognizable, some are less so. It's a constant discovery and rediscovery."
The artistry of the tree, from the carvings to every detail of its composition, required
"That was probably the most difficult part of sculpting the tree, to create the
In all, it took more than 18 months and a crew of thousands to complete exterior construction of The Tree of Life.
"This is the most impressive artistic and engineering feat that we have achieved since the original Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland," Rohde says.
To maintain fluidity of the tree's carvings, the trunk portion was assembled outside the park with
Last updated: 7 August 2011