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  1. #1

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    Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    ****WARNING ****Avoid reading this thread if you are going to the MK soon because it may bum you out****

    One thing that helps elevate all parks to greatness are big, old trees.

    Imagine how less impressive NYC's Central Park would be without its elm canopy or Yosemite without its redwoods. Grandfather trees add an air of beauty, strength, and dignity wherever they survive. They teach humility and history. Grandfather trees are as precious as they are fragile: what can endure for centuries can also be destroyed in minutes by a man with a chainsaw.

    (Top) A city park with saplings. (bottom) City parks with centenarian trees.


    What rings true for city parks, national parks and town parks, also applies to theme parks.

    Before the Magic Kingdom's many mature trees were ripped out, they had begun achieve impressive size (while still relatively youthful). This added something incalculably valuable to the park. It felt dignified and permanent. The trees offered respite from the Florida Sun. The Hub, rivaling the Tivoli Gardens, was an attraction in itself to horticulturalists. The Castle looked more authentic from all vantage points... as if hidden in some Bavarian forest. Town Square felt like it had really been established in the 1800s:


    Then Magic Kingdom managers decided for one reason or another (better sight lines for fireworks? Castle Forecourt Stage needed more room for people to see the Princess or HSM shows?) that many of the trees that had been growing for decades - making the park better with each ring they added - should be torn out.


    The results of this tree loss are in:
    -The castle looks closer, more like a plastic toy and less mysterious from many vantage points.
    -The entire hub is easily visible from any particular point near the center making it feel smaller and more barren.
    -The hub and town square are much hotter. It's no longer comfortable to relax on a bench because there is no shade from the sun.
    -The DVC Contemporary building is visible towering over the Park as seen from Liberty Square.
    -With fewer mature trees, the park feels cheaper, less special and less dignified.
    -Saddest of all, even if they allow new trees to grow, they will take decades before they approach the size of what was torn out.

    In the short term, at least, it was an irreversible, tragic mistake.

  2. #2

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    Have you ever heard of forced perspective?
    DisneyTwins
    Since May 2003

  3. #3

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    ^I have.

    So had the original landscape designers who used species that don't grow very tall (like live oak) and who pruned the trees as they matured.

    You can have old, shade providing trees and maintain forced perspective.

  4. #4

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    Quote Originally Posted by Disneytwins View Post
    Have you ever heard of forced perspective?
    I don't think this is used as much in the Magic Kingdom at WDW than it is at DL.

  5. #5

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    This is the best topic ever created on Mice Chat ever. Kudos.
    -Bill

  6. #6

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    Disneyland did it too but their hub trees are still trees and not shrubs. Both parks in old photographs had a foresty feel around the castle which looks great but have since become a bunch of manicured sections pavement. As far as I know MK's was done for fireworks(as recently as wishes I think?). DL's was a while ago and a lot of the trees left caused problems when Remember debuted but thankfully other than a little bit of construction to widen some walkways they've been left in tact I think.

  7. #7

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    I understand the reasons they removed them, better guest flow of traffic, better sight lines, etc... but I do agree with you that their removal did take something special out of the park.

  8. #8

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    I see both sides of it, I think that the trees could have been trimmed down and shaped to where they still maintained their location but didn't impede on flow of traffic, sightlines etc...But maybe there was another reason that we just aren't thinking of here that caused them to remove them completely. Like the roots were pushing into something that would cause damage. (That's not a given, just an example of why)

    Doesn't make it right and I like the view with the trees but unfortunately there isn't much we can do about it now. :/

  9. #9

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    I heard for a better view of the castle stage the trees were removed in addition to how they were throwing off the forced perspective of the castle.

    New, smaller trees should have been planted though.
    I like The Happiest Millionaire. What's wrong with that?

  10. #10

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    Now, your title indicates the trees were cut down, massacred. Is this true, or were they moved elsewhere? The destruction of beautiful old trees is more of a sadness to me than what it looks like around the castle.
    I want my cake back!

  11. #11

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    As someone who agrees with you, I also well understand the fact that this is private property, and the best we can do is educate. There is not much else you can do.

    I am a shade tree comissioner in my town, and we have the same problem all the time. There are many reasons that people remove trees - obstruction, cleaning of leaves, sightlines, etc. Our policy for trees in the public space is that unless they are dead/dying or a safety hazard, the tree stays.


    -dave
    "I'm gonna build my own amusement park. But with gambling and hookers!" - Bender
    "You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity." - Bullet Tooth Tony

  12. #12

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    Oh my oh my. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. And last week I discovered someone's "WDW of Old" blog or something like that talking about how awesome the Magic Kingdom used to be. And you know what? It was.

    But for all the complaining we do about the MK it really does deserve some of it. While other parks get placemaking to add nice space and details, the Magic Kingdom is systematically removing these areas of detail.

    The Hub, Town Square, Fantasyland, all areas where detail is being removed. Planters and trees make areas dynamic. They all add life and mystique to the design.
    From a design standpoint, trees help make an area interesting. When you can't see all of what is around a tree, you get intrigued and want to investigate. When there is no surprise, when everything is laid out ASAP, the area is not interesting anymore...and in some cases not even worth visiting.

    All this so people can see Cinderellabration, Wishes better and have more areas to park their strollers.

    And it is more than just the trees, its the fountains, the courtyards in Caribbean Plaza, the off the beaten track areas in Fantasyland being removed for stroller parking. It seems the more the Magic Kingdom becoming all about crowds crowds and crowds at all times of the year (we were talking today...where did our empty days of the early spring go?), the park as a whole becomes less about a Disney-designed park and more about "MAKE MORE SPACE FOR PEOPLE!".

    In the fanboy community we like to make fun of Cedar Fair for thier love of concrete and hatred of trees in thier parks. Well the Magic Kingdom is becoming the Cedar Point of the Disney parks in that respect. The little things that made this park amazing are leaving...while down the road in the studios they are adding trees and unique spaces still.

    I like the trees, and the spaces and the shade. Magic Kingdom was SOOO hot and humid today and areas like Fantasyland are so barren these days that there is no escape from the sun.

    But in the whole, I think while other Florida parks are still improving over time, the disappearing trees of the Magic Kingdom are just the visible symbols of a larger issue of things disappearing in the park. This, the "flagship" is not improving.

    EDIT: On the bright side though (I am not always negative)...for the first time since the Pirates Rehab I heard them playing the old Caribbean Plaza music in the park today!!! I was SOOOO happy. It was only in the El Pirata Restaurante dining rooms...but still...it is a sign of progression for the park (oddly enough while regressing back to an old loop).

  13. #13

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    Quote Originally Posted by tloolgb View Post
    I like the trees, and the spaces and the shade. Magic Kingdom was SOOO hot and humid today and areas like Fantasyland are so barren these days that there is no escape from the sun.
    One of my loves of the Animal Kingdom, is the shade !

  14. #14

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    Quote Originally Posted by seenoevil View Post
    Now, your title indicates the trees were cut down, massacred. Is this true, or were they moved elsewhere?
    It's a fair question. I don't know for sure, but my cynicism towards recent WDW management practices tells me they were cut down.

    I know Disney has used helicopters to move mature trees in the past (typically when building a theme park). They have a tree farm north of Animal Kingdom and a mature tree has a significant dollar value. Then again, moving a mature tree also costs a lot more than simply cutting it down (especially if they did so overnight, using a helicopter).

    The destruction of beautiful old trees is more of a sadness to me than what it looks like around the castle.
    In this case, the location of these trees (around the hub, the castle, town square) is the crux of the issue. Indeed, beautiful old trees are destroyed all over the planet in incomprehensible numbers, every day. That's part of the human condition.

    In this case, we have a man-made park - a place of beauty that is close to the hearts of millions of people - that has been diminished by the poor judgment of a few individuals.

  15. #15

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    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre

    They took out the hub trees in 2003 when Wishes debuted. When I first saw the park without them, I thought it made it everything look brand new. It was like the park had just opened. I can't really explain it, but maybe it's because in all the old photographs of the park the trees were much smaller.

    Anyway, at first I liked the hub without trees, but when they shrunk the planters and removed the curbs, they went a little too far for my taste. Now the hub looks too spacious and not magical enough.

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