Faux Flora at Walt Disney World

RM-Swiss-Family-Robinson-TreeSome of the best magic at Walt Disney World is achieved with the careful cultivation and placement of thousands (and thousands!) of trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers, and topiaries.  I’ve heard staggering statistics on the army of gardeners and horticulturalists it takes to keep the World looking so beautiful.  Sometimes, Disney park designers and Imagineers come up with incredibly imaginative uses for trees and, out of necessity, those trees must be fake!  That’s what I want to talk about today.  Fake Trees – aka Faux Flora!  There are bunches of fake animals at Disney World, too, but I’ll save the faux fauna discussion for another day.

This is not an all-inclusive list of every artificial plant in every Disney park – I just want to talk about a few of my favorites ones.  Ready?RM-Swiss-Family-Robinson-SignRM-Swiss-Family-Robinson-Treehouse

Swiss Family Robinson Tree – This Adventureland marvel in Magic Kingdom gets overlooked a lot.  Probably because it is low-tech and, well, a bit boring.  The TREE though has been standing there since the park opened in 1971 looking pretty awesome!  Next time you pass by, at least check out the details of the artificial tree, even if you don’t want to climb the 116 steps to see how the Family Robinson lived.RM-Palm-Tree-Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Palm Trees – They’re sharp-looking and don’t try to be something they’re not.  Perfect for Tomorrowland’s futuristic feel, these were steampunk before that was even a thing.RM-Tree-of-Life1

The Tree of Life – 50 feet wide and 145 feet tall, it’s more a work of art than just a fake tree.  This completely artificial plant plays an important role as the icon for Animal Kingdom.  Built using an oil rig for stable frame, this Animal Kingdom icon boasts over 300 animal carvings, 7891 end branches and more than 102,000 artificial leaves in 5 shades of green.  The tree’s roots shelter the theater for It’s Tough to be a Bug.  If I’m on vacation, I can often be found studying the minute details of the different animal carvings.RM-Baobab-Tree

Boabab Trees - You know these trees – they’re the upside-down-looking ones on Kilimanjaro Safari.  Admit it – the safari just wouldn’t be the same without them!THE DiVine at Animal Kingdom

DiVine – She gets a lot of flack.  I hear people dis this living but artificial figure in Animal Kingdom all the time.  I think she’s cool!  If you don’t know what I’m talking about – check out my DiVine-specific article here.  I haven’t seen her in a while, but make a point to look for her on every visit along the path between Asia and Africa.

Know about any faux flora I’ve left off my list?  What fake trees are your favorite at Disney World?

Disney’s Five Legged Goat

Contemporary-ResortWay back (a long time ago) when we were fortunate enough to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for the first time, I did some research so I could share some interesting facts with The Fam.  I’m known for doing this – researching stuff to great extent prior to vacation,  So my peeps have become pretty tolerant and sometimes, on rare occasion, manage to act a bit interested in my fact-filled narratives.  Once in a great while, they even actually listen.  Really, it doesn’t hurt my feelings that much because the research (and the sharing of it) is really for my own amusement.

So, there I was, talking about the amazing Contemporary – how it was one of the original Disney World resorts that opened in 1971, how the monorail runs right through the building, how there’s this really fantastic and unique Mary Blair modern art mural in the Grand Canyon Concourse, how the mural (a mosaic) depicts animals, plants, and Native American children (The Fam, a little glazed, still sort of listening) and is 90 feet tall, how on the mural, Mary Blair placed aContemporary-Resort-Mural five-legged goat – Wait!  WHAT?  Yep, that got their attention.  Indeed.  There’s a five legged goat on the mural – placed there on purpose to remind people that nothing man-made is perfect.

So, all checked in and situated at the resort, we go exploring a bit before our dinner reservation at Chef Mickey’s.  When we’re able to view the entire mural on the walls in the concourse, we immediately start looking for the goat and there it was!  Cute as can be – even with the extra appendage.  Well, Joseph (being Joseph), immediately starts singing about the goat – changing the jingle from a certain well-know sub shop’s commercials.  C’mon, you know what I mean.  Sing along with me now – Five…..five legged……….five legged foot goat! (any, any, any).

Five-legged-goatIn 2009 on another trip to Disney World, Joseph and Raymond went exploring in Downtown Disney while I shopped for a little while.  When we met back up, they proudly presented me with this pin!  And yes, we all burst into song at once.  The five-legged goat pin is my most favorite pin of all.

Have you seen The Contemporary’s five legged goat?

Disney World Things That Make Kids Cry

TomorrowlandIn all the visits I’ve made to the four parks at Walt Disney World, there are a few attractions (rides and shows) that stand out to me as holding a special sort of power – the power to make kids cry!  Sure – we know that meeting characters can cause a fright, but I’m talking about seemingly kid-friendly stuff.  Check out my list and then comment with your own experiences and observations – this topic will certainly need to be revisited from time to time.  Especially since we’ve got a bunch of new attractions to look forward to with Pandora coming to Animal Kingdom and Start Wars Land in the future for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Disney World Things That Make Kids Cry

Fantasmic – If the wait alone doesn’t do it, some of the elements of the show have a considerable fear factor.  Any time there are villains involved, there’s the potential for unhappiness.  In the case of Fantasmic, I think it’s the mixture of big images projected on water, pyrotechnics, and live characters – lights, sound, and a lot of action!  After waiting for the show to start, I imagine some little ones are terribly disappointed – doesn’t help that it’s also probably past their bedtime.DungBrothers

It’s Tough to be a Bug – This one seems like it will be so much fun!  Beneath Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life where it’s cool and dark and the walls are plastered with fun insect movie posters, the wait for the show is deceiving.  This 3D experience is no Mickey’s PhilharMagic!  Even little ones who are not usually afraid of bugs find this show horrifying.  I’ve seen it enough time that when certain parts are about to happen, I think, “cue the crying!” and sure enough, parents are bee-lining for the door (see what I did there?).  Seriously, if you’re considering this attraction for children under the age of seven, consider letting them sit on your lap.  Trust me.IMG_6712

Dinosaur – Our daughter is 24 and still plugs her hears during this ride’s trip back in time in Animal Kingdom.  The idea that dinosaurs are all around you is scary enough – add jerky, unpredictable motion and loud noises and you’ve got the perfect combination for a major cry-fest.  This is one of those just-because-they’re-tall-enough-doesn’t-mean-they’re-ready attractions.wd015wdw201414779448368

Stitch’s Great Escape – This one made me cry.  Horrible doesn’t begin to describe what I thought of this Tomorrowland attraction in Magic Kingdom.  To say I hated it would be an understatement.  I’m a big fan of Lilo and Stitch, but this ride, formerly the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (1995-2003), uses major seat restraints to keep hapless guests in place while they’re tortured by Stitch’s antics.  This includes some periods of complete and total darkness.  I don’t know if Stitch still burps chili-dog breath in your face (I’ve heard that was gone), but I wanted out of that place so bad – I can only imagine what a 40″ tall (the minimum height requirement) child would go through in there!  This one may look fun, but I say keep walking!

What about YOU?  What attractions do you think should be added to the list?


Disney World – Construction Walls Everywhere


RM-Animal-Kingdom-Construction-WallsIf you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the near future and you’ve been reading blogs, Disney fan sites, or message boards, you’ll have noticed something you may have found alarming – there are construction walls everywhere!  And cranes.  And closures.

It’s true.  I wish I could tell you the place looks picture perfect and is as bright, beautiful, and photogenic as seen on TV, but I’d be lying.  The Magic Kingdom’s hub is undergoing a major expansion which involves the use of construction walls seemingly everywhere.  Same goes for Animal Kingdom – major changes in progress.  Downtown Disney’s transformation into Disney Springs will be wonderful – when it’s finished…right now? Not so much.  As welcome and exciting as these changes are, they also result in vast seas of construction walls.  Things are going to really get shaken up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when the addition of Star Wars Land gets underway.  If rumors are to be believed, Echo Lake, Dino Gertie, and Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner are all doomed.  Cue the walls!RM-Construction-Walls

Should this worry you?  Should you quickly cancel your plans and wait it out?  My advice would be absolutely not!  If you plan to vacation at Walt Disney World anytime during the next two to three years (or longer), you may not be seeing the parks at their picture-perfect best, but you’ll be visiting during an important time of major transformation!  And, there will still be an enormous number of attractions, shows, shops, restaurants, and resorts for you to enjoy.  You will also find plenty of places, construction-wall-free, to capture great vacation photographs.

In case you insist on being worried and you find you’ll be at Disney World in the near future, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you cope with the current state of upheaval.

IMG_08921. Be Prepared!  What’s that saying, “forewarned is forearmed”?  That’s the purpose of this post!  If you know you’ll find things a bit unsettled, it’ll make it easier to accept.  Resign yourself to the fact that things don’t look like they do in the Disney vacation planning DVD or the commercials or travel shows you may have seen on TV.  It’s okay – looks aren’t everything.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?  Rest assured – the heart of Disney is still beating strong!

2. Focus on What you CAN see and do!  I know I’m making it sound like the situation is dire, but I want you to have realistic expectations.  You’ll still find plenty of places virtually construction and closure-free!  For example:  Except for the attraction-formerly-known-as-Maelstrom in the Norway pavilion, Epcot’s World Showcase is not currently undergoing any major construction and is still one of the most gorgeous places at Walt IMG_0894Disney World.

3. Embrace the Walls!  If any company can make construction walls look interesting, it’s Disney.  Signs, sayings, pictures – cute, clever, and funny surprises can be found along the length of those barriers.  Consider turning the walls into one more Disney “thing” to be explored.

4. Get Creative With Your Camera!  Don’t fret over Cinderella Castle if there’s a construction crane in use that will appear in every picture.  This should not ruin your vacation!  There are plenty of other, albeit less famous, beautiful buildings and even other castles you can photograph to your heart’s content.  The Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom may be surrounded by walls, but you can still capture some very memorable and scenic park shots.

Fantasyland5. Secure Those Bragging Rights!  You will be able to say – I visited way back when.  I secured my bragging rights during the Fantasyland expansion  when Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was under construction – I remember what the park was like before, during, and now after the awesome addition to Magic Kingdom was made!  In 2014, I visited Animal Kingdom amid the vast expanse of construction walls – it’s okay!  I was THERE when they were adding the elements for the upcoming nighttime attractions and Pandora addition – and I’ll be excited to visit again both during the construction and when the transformation is complete!

Will you be at Walt Disney World soon?  What do you think about the changes?