The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one impressive structure that inspires millions of photographs each year and countless breathtaking moments and memories. But just a few weeks ago after a passing storm one of the small artificial tree limbs fell away from guest areas. Still, this caused enough safety concern that Disney has rushed in to place netting structures over every surrounding walkway by the Tree of Life. How temporary these structures may be remains to be seen though at first glance these nets don’t look like they are going anywhere fast. The structures themselves are making the best out of a bad situation, by providing some measure of added safety while blending into their surroundings as best as anything on this scale could. Still there is no denying that something has been lost at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and only time shall tell if Disney fans ever get it back.
As a practical matter, it would appear that Disney has made the most prudent decision at least in the near term so as to protect guests until further work on the Tree of Life can take place or the cause of the incident and any underlying issues determined. But as a fan of Disney and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (and yes it is my favorite park at WDW despite the obvious shortcomings) it is hard not to feel that something very important at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is now gone. Sure we can all concede that the typical guest might not even notice the difference, save for a visit to It’s Tough To Be A Bug or a happenstance wandering through the inner trails near the Tree of Life. But the latter can not stand as reason for these nets to remain in the long term. They aren’t horrid, in fact anywhere but at Walt Disney World they wouldn’t even be questioned. But when you’ve seen magic, felt it near the Tree of Life, seen how masterful the artwork is on its trunk up close, you can’t just pretend the netting which distorts your very vision of it doesn’t ruin the masterpiece. Frankly, it does.
Just imagine how you’d feel walking up to Cinderella’s Castle through the trails behind it, if for some hypothetical reason Disney had to place some well-themed obstructions alongside the majestic castle. No matter the amount of pixie-dust and care it would be out of place. We know of many who have strong feelings of distaste for the protruding monuments of Leave a Legacy in front of Spaceship Earth and even the tarp structures behind it but neither of those take away the clear line of sight of Epcot’s icon in the way these nets and their accompanying pole supports do. Despite all of this the Tree of Life continues to be the best vision of nature that humans have ever been able to produce, we just hope that one day soon, we can explore it the way it was meant to be seen. As a symbol of life, nature and freedom it deserves to be seen in all its majesty and not through the captive sight of nets. We remain hopeful that those at Disney realize this and will in due time return Animal Kingdom’s park icon to its natural state and we will certainly update you on this as time progresses.