Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Tree Of Life

Here at Around The Mouse we've always been staunch defenders of Animal Kingdom. We love to sing its praises as we believe it's been given a bad rap and is a bit underrated.

Hope even says it's her favorite WDW park when it's not summer (the oppressive heat that time of year is the only thing that knocks it off the perch), and even though it's my 4th favorite of the four parks, it doesn't mean I don't love it. I just happen to be a sucker for tradition and and history, and Animal Kingdom is the youngest of the bunch. But I think it's awesome and definitely NOT a single day park, as you hear so many describe it as. Our article Defending Disney's Animal Kingdom (October 23, 2009) goes into many of the reasons why we love it so much.

One of the big reasons we love it is the icon of the park: the Tree Of Life. Not only is it an incredible and imposing structure, but it's beautiful and serves multiple purposes. The artistry that went into designing and then sculpting the animals of the tree is mind-blowing. I've been staring at it for years and almost every time I go and look at it I discover new details that I didn't notice or fully appreciate before.

The paths around the Tree Of Life wind right
up to the base of the structure - making for
an incredible close-up view.

The eagle is one of the most fantastic sculpts on the tree.

There's a striking resemblance here...

"The backside of water" can be found at the
Tree Of Life as well as The Jungle Cruise.

This guy was hamming it up for the camera.
Actually, he was in the lone sunny spot of his area
just trying to get warm.

The swan didn't want us anywhere near his humble abode.

The kangaroos were incredible to watch up close.

The walking trails around the tree are serene and beautiful. Animal and bird sanctuaries are plentiful. Countless signs detail the wildlife and provide an excellent educational experience for young and old alike. Waterfalls, streams and ponds dot the surroundings and plenty of tree shade shelters you from the sun. Walking around the tree is a wonderful experience that definitely should be explored and savored.

"Hello. And...and...and...welcome. Welcome to our show!"

The tree is also home to one of the best 3D movies in The Mouse - It's Tough To Be A Bug. Some younger kids find it disturbing, but mine have always loved it. The quality of the film has stood the test of time and the 3D elements are still very much effective.

It also has the what I believe to be the best 4D elements of any of the WDW 3D films attractions: giant spiders drop from the ceiling, hornets poke you in the back, beetles crawl under your butt and one of the best audio-animatronics in WDW makes an appearance (Hopper, the grasshopper).

Personally I believe the "weenie" (as Walt used to call the park icons) at Animal Kingdom is a worthy part of the lineup of icons that includes Cinderella's Castle, SpaceShip Earth and even the Sorcerer's Hat (as hated as that one is by many). And while the others may be more popular and historic, it's possible the genius of The Tree Of Life's artistry may surpass all of the rest.

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