****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.