Disney Parks are well-known for exceptional and unique attractions, shows and entertainment. But probably a less-appreciated fact is that Disney has some other things that are one-of-a-kind (or nearly one-of-a-kind) — certain trees!
That’s right, there are several trees that you can only find in Disney Parks around the world.
The Tree of Life
Let’s start with the most obvious one — the one you probably thought of immediately when you heard the word “tree.” The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The Tree of Life is a marvel of modern Imagineering that took thousands of workers 18 months to construct. It is 145 feet tall (about 14 stories) and the branches span 165 feet. There are more than 103,000 leaves, each of which is more than a foot long and is made out of a special plastic called Kynar. The leaves are four different shapes and sizes, and different variations of the color green. The bottom trunk of the tree is 50 feet wide. There are 45 secondary branches that lead to 756 of what they call “tertiary” (third-level) branches leading to the 7,891 end branches.
As if all of those stats aren’t impressive enough, then there are the animal figures carved into the tree’s amazing trunk and surrounding roots.
Twenty artists carved more than 320 intricately detailed animals into the Tree of Life’s trunk, branches and roots. You could spend days walking around the tree, trying to find all the critters carved there.
There’s no doubt that this tree is unique — we doubt you’ll ever see another that even comes close to its design and detail!
The Liberty Tree
Did you ever see the old Disney film, “Johnny Tremain”? I must have seen this story of a colonial boy on the eve of the Revolutionary War a hundred times, rewatching it over and over when my son was little and fascinated with the “Patriots.” During that time I became well aware of The Liberty Tree.
At Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, this tree symbolizes the beginnings of American freedom, as explained on the bronze plaque located at its base.
“Under the boughs of the original Liberty Tree in Boston in 1765, Patriots, calling themselves ‘The Sons Of Liberty,’ gathered to protest the imposition of the Stamp Act. In the years that followed, almost every American town had a Liberty Tree — A Living Symbol Of The American Freedom of Speech and Assembly.
“Our Liberty Tree is a Southern Live Oak, Quercus Virginiana, more than 100 years old. The tree in Liberty Square displays 13 lanterns commemorating the 13 original colonies. It is the largest tree ever transplanted on Walt Disney World property.”
This particular oak was actually brought over to its current spot from eight miles away on the east side of the Disney World property. At the time, the tree was 40 feet tall, 60 feet wide and weighed 38 tons.
While there may be other live oaks, none has the background of this particular tree, or shares its exclusive spot in Magic Kingdom history.
Swiss Family Treehouse
The tree known as the Swiss Family Treehouse is linked to another Disney classic live-action film, 1960’s “The Swiss Family Robinson.” That’s another movie I watched way too many times!
The treehouse that the shipwrecked family built in the film is faithfully recreated in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, from the kitchen and bedrooms right down to the water wheel and the salvaged organ playing the Swisskapolka!
Like the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, this tree is totally manmade, although the moss hanging from it is real. There are more than 330,000 polyethylene leaves and the tree itself, which is modeled after the banyan tree, is made from cement and steel. With a 15-foot trunk and nine main limbs, plus “roots” that go 42 feet UNDER the ground, the entire tree weighs about 200 tons. Despite the fact that it’s manufactured, Disney has assigned the tree an appropriate scientific name — “Disneyodendron Eximus,” which in Latin roughly means “an out of the ordinary Disney tree.”
The Swiss Family Treehouse was an opening day attraction at Walt Disney World. Its Disneyland counterpart, which opened in November 1962, was “reimagined” in 1999 as “Tarzan’s Treehouse,” another tree you won’t find anywhere else! A Disneyland Paris version of the tree, called La Cabane des Robinson, opened in 1992. Tokyo Disneyland also has a very similar Swiss Family Treehouse that opened in 1993.
With its 116 steps, this tree is not an attraction for the faint-hearted, but we think it’s definitely worth exploring!
Tomorrowland “Power Palm” Trees
Only at Disney will you find these futuristic palm trees made of metal! These “trees” offer a whimsical touch to the concrete expanse of Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. At night, they provide accent lighting when “up lights” illuminate the fronds.
Believe it or not, these faux palms actually have their own backstory — they weren’t just placed there randomly.
Located near Space Mountain and the Tomorrowland Light and Power Company, these palms were supposedly designed to collect solar energy, which would be stored in their “coconuts.” Periodically, the energy would be harvested, as you can see by the one palm tree whose leaves are folded (on the far right in the photo below).
Of course, these palms aren’t REALLY soaking up the sun, but Disney IS producing its own solar energy. In fact, they recently debuted a new solar farm that they hope will produce enough energy to power several theme parks. You can read about the new solar facility here.
There you have it — trees you can only find in the Disney Parks! What other things are uniquely Disney? We’ll take a look at more in the future! Are you into the details and history of the Disney Parks? Leave us a comment below to let us know!
You can read more about other trees around Walt Disney World in this feature by Disney Historian Jim Korkis!
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