Each of the four Walt Disney World theme parks has an icon, an easily recognizable symbol that will make Disney-lovers worldwide think of that park. At the Magic Kingdom the icon is Cinderella Castle. Epcot has Spaceship Earth. The Sorcerer’s Hat serves as the main icon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, although some fans claim that it should be the Earful Tower. The icon that best symbolizes Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Tree of Life. It’s an incredible structure that you shouldn’t just hurry by.
It’s Tough to be a Bug! plays continuously throughout the day inside the Tree of Life. It is based on the 1998 film A Bug’s Life. The movie itself is 3D, you’ll need to wear special “bug eye” glasses. There are added physical effects as well. The show can be intense, and may scare sensitive children. It lasts approximately eight minutes long.
The Tree of Life is huge. It stands 145 feet tall, and at the base it is 50 feet wide. There are over 8,000 branches in various sizes, and over 102,000 man-made leaves. Each leaf is over a foot long. The design of the enormous structure is based on a bonsai tree.
The weather in Central Florida is not always ideal. The area is a magnet for strong storms in the summer, and Florida has been hit by several hurricanes and tropical storms. The Tree was designed to withstand hurricane force winds. The leaves move in the wind just like the leaves on a living tree would.
Most people realize that there are animals carved into the Tree of Life, but they may not know how many. Disney places the number at “over 300”, while other sources claim that there are “over 325”. The animals can be found in the roots, in the trunk, and in the branches. For a better look at the animals, bring binoculars into the park with you. You may even find a Hidden Mickey.
While the Tree of Life is lifelike, it is man-made. It is one of just a few artificial trees at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are over 4 million living plants in the park, but the icon is not one of them.
2. Creating a Masterpiece
The Tree of Life did not spring up overnight. It took 18 months to complete. There were three Imagineers and ten artists who worked full time on the design.
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1. Secret Path
There is a secret path that will allow you to take an up close look at part of the Tree of Life. Most people walk right by it. As you leave Harambe, look to the right after the Tree but before the bridge. There is a lot of vegetation at the entrance to the path, which makes it harder to find. It is open to the public, and it’s a great place to get pictures.