Take a moment and look at this tree.
The photos clue you in to the beauty and intricacy of the Tree of Life. As for its majesty, you kind of have to be there, as I was in April with a contingent of Traveling Moms to size up what was new and noteworthy at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
The tree, of course, is not new, though Disney regularly revises it, extending the roots to add to the more than 300 carvings. Some new ones will be unveiled when Animal Kingdom debuts its AVATAR Pandora attraction in 2017.
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But in the meantime, the tree has always been noteworthy. In a nod to both sustainability and ingenuity, Disney laid claim to an oil drum in Mississippi, flipped it upside down, and yes, friends, that is the core of the tree.
From there, the Disney builders, artisans and sorcerers painstakingly created the tree over three years, adding the branches and its more than 100,000 leaves, carving the animals, and constructing the Discovery Island Trails that permit you to walk around the tree. And the tree itself is 50-feet wide at its base, so Disney figured, why not, let’s shove an entire attraction in there. Hence, It’s Tough to Be a Bug.
You can learn these Tree of Life facts and many more without actually seeing the tree with your own eyes, of course, so let me get back to the importance of being there.
As you look up at it, the tree claws skyward peacefully, which could not have been easy for Disney to pull off. Something this tall, this wide, and this gnarly was bound to be intimidating. But somehow, it’s not. The animal carvings, haphazardly yet harmoniously layered, cascade around and upward, meeting the enormous leafy branches that shelter rather than loom.
And when you’re standing under it, there may come a time, as there did for me, when you’re gazing up at the tree and you tune out the murmurings around you and in your own head and you get it, that shiver of pure Zen, when you’re having your first peaceful moment in a very long time and think this, this right here, is why it’s important to see this tree for yourself.
And then a voice breaks through the tuned out murmurings and shatters the silence into a million pieces.
“This tree is AMAZING. I wonder if it ever gets STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.”
This from a dad who appeared next to me.
Okay, fine, so this is what guys want to know. The tree is beautiful, all the more remarkable since it’s made from an upside down oil drum, so did Mother Nature at any point take issue with that and strike it with lightning?
I found the Disney cast member who had been fielding all my other questions and asked: Had the tree ever been struck by lightning?
“Not to my knowledge,” she said.
A few minutes later as I made my last circuit of the tree I overheard a boy say, “Look at that woodwork they carved!” with real wonder in his voice, no doubt what Disney was going for, and I walked quickly away in case his dad had a follow-up remark about whether the tree ever gets infested with locusts.
More on the Tree of Life and Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Traveling Mom:
- Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Surprising Facts about the Tree of Life & It’s Tough to Be a Bug in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- A Walking Safari of Discovery Island at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom
- Become a Wilderness Explorer at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom
- Character Encounter in Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
- 4 Easy Ways to Impact the Future While Visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Discovery Island
- Want the Best Counter Service BBQ at Disney Parks? Check Out Flame Tree Barbecue