The Wonderful World of Horticulture

Pink Roses Disneyland, Anaheim

Lovely pink roses bloom in June near the moat surrounding Sleeping Beauty Castle.

One of the things that makes Disney parks so special is their use of plants.  From a business perspective growing and maintaining hundreds of plant species just for the sake of ambience is a costly, and non-revenue generating, endeavor.  But it speaks to Disney’s attention to detail and love of providing an experience like no other.  Creating rich and realistic environments has been a signature of Disney since the opening of its first theme park in 1955.

Lamp post with live flowers Disneyland, Anaheim

Live flowers adorn the lamp posts on Main Street in Disneyland.

The true magic of Disney is that rarely, if ever, do guests see the horticulture staff at work.  Much of the work is done at night and in the wee hours of the morning while the parks are closed and hotel guests are fast asleep.

Garden at the England Pavilion at Epcot

This lovely English garden is a centerpiece of the England attraction at EPCOT in Orlando.

A great deal of care and research goes into the selection and placement of plantlife to ensure continuity with the various themes of the Disney parks and hotels.

The Liberty Tree in Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom

The wonderful Liberty Tree in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom was ambitiously transplanted during the park’s construction.

One of my favorite things at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando is the Liberty Tree.  The ancient live Oak (quercus virginiana) was found growing naturally on the land that would eventually become part of the Walt Disney World Resort.  It was painstakingly transplanted to its current location prior to the Magic Kingdom opening in 1971.

Flowers at Downtown Disney Orlando

A gecko finds a home among a carpet of velvety flowers in Downtown Disney.

The Disney parks have become a sanctuary for a variety of fish, birds and other animals that find safety in the confines of the parks where hunting and fishing is prohibited.  One of the great pleasures of visiting a Disney theme park is seeing the many wild animals that have moved in and set up housekeeping.

Great Egret at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Great Egrets can be found in abundance in central Florida. It is hard to believe that these magestic creatures were once hunted nearly to extinction.

Of course, of all the parks, The Animal Kindgom is where plants and landscaping take center stage.  It was important to create an environment that felt as though it had evolved in the wild rather than being sculpted and landscaped by designers.

Red Hibiscus Flower at Disney's Animal Kingdom

A gorgeous red hibiscus among a sea of green foliage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The park has hundreds of species of plants and flowers to explore and has become a home to many native insect and bird species found in central Florida.

The Maharajah's Jungle Trek Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Maharajah’s Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is full of details and lush foliage that make visitors forget they’re in a theme park.

Plants are more than decoration, they create ambiance and the illusion of reality.  The Hollywood Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a landmark attraction.  But it is the wild  and overgrown landscape that truly sets the mood for the story that unfolds within and helps to foreshadow the attraction’s story.

The Hollywood Tower of Terror Walt Disney World Orlando

The wild overgrowth of the landscaping at the Tower of Terror gives detail to the story of an abandoned Art Deco hotel.

Throughout the year the type of plants featured throughout the Disney Parks change to suit the seasons.  Fall and Christmastime are my two favorite seasons for visiting a Disney theme park.

Pumpkins at Disneyland Paris

Enormous natural pumpkins are scattered over the immaculate lawn in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris.

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