The Tree of Life, the centerpiece to Disney's Animal Kingdom, is a really wonderous man-made creation. Here are some great facts. The Tree of Life is 145 feet tall, and the trunk is 50 feet wide. There are over 320 animals carved onto the Tree of Life, with over 103,000 leaves on approx 8,000 branches. The tree is made of concrete, over a modified oil rig. Ten artists and three Imagineers worked full-time for 18 months to create the 325 animal carvings on The Tree of Life. Sculptors had between six and 10 hours to create the finished image before the plaster hardened. The Tree of Life is topped with more than 103,000 transparent, five-shades-of-green leaves that actually blow in the wind.
Other than the entrance to It's Tough to be a Bug, there are a couple of great pathways that take you very close to the tree's trunk. Check out some of my pictures and try to keep count of the animals as they go by.
On this last trip to WDW we had one of the most fun, educational experiences and received one of the best souvenirs that I have taken away from WDW. We went to the Animation Academy. The Animation Academy can be found in the Magic of Animation attraction in the Disney Hollywood Studios. Once you watch Mushu tell you about about character creation, you exit out to a room that has really evolved from what it was originally. There is art work from the new Tangled movie, computer stations to color, add sounds or see what character you are most like. On top of that , there many meet and greet areas for the most current and some older characters. In among this multitude of animation experiences is, as mentioned above, one of the best half hours we have ever had at WDW. The Animation Academy. This is a side area in the room mentioned above that is right near the exit into the Disney Animation store. Here you queue up for a 15-20 minute lesson on how to draw a Disney Character. When the doors open up you walk into what can best be described as an Animation Classroom. At the front of the room is an artist desk with and large video screen hanging on the wall above it. An overhead projector shows you what the artist is doing. The Artist is a WDW Cast Member who was great. I believe his name was Rick. As we find a seat and sit, Rick tells us about the partnership of Disney and animation and how we were going to draw Mickey Mouse in this session. We were really excited to start. We all were sitting on the most ingenious swivel mounted stools and our desk was a well lit Mickey shaped drawing area with a piece of drawing paper. At the top of the lit part of the desk were a couple of raised pins. The paper had holes at top that fit over the pins as you draw. As you reach for the pencil you notice that there is no eraser. Uh-oh. But Rick assures us it will not be necessary. And we began to draw. Step by step we followed his instructions punctuated by historic facts about drawing Mickey over the years mixed with some humour. Our drawings progressed line by line and we all came out with pretty good Mickey Mouse portraits. This was so fun. This has just squeezed into my must-do's at DHS right after the top three; Toy Story Mania, Tower and RockNRoller Coaster. FYI, you can go through the store and past the Oscars exhibit and skip the Mushu show if you want.
One of our must-do's on this last trip was to make sure we got on Star Tours at least once if not more. Well we did and on our last ride, we noticed something we had never seen before. As you are getting ready to be split up into the different sides near the end of the line is this guy. We were in line and it had stopped moving. With all of the Starport and Droid repair noise going on I could of sworn I heard birds chirping. I shared that with the kids and we were looking around trying to find the sound. We all seemed to zone in on them all at once. I say them, because what we found was a nest of Space Ravens or something similar.
These guys were right above the doorway as you enter the area were the cast memeber moves you to your Star Tours Loading gate. We always like finding something new. And since this might not be there after the big Re-furb planned for this attraction it makes it all the more special.
I'm back and wow did I have a Great summer. Not one but two trips to WDW. Three interviews that I have worked and still working on the third for 'Walt's People' and a I feel I have learned so much. We did two more WDW tours and took a lot of pictures. I look forward to bringing a lot of my experiences here to share on the Blog.
One of the new to me things was a really cool find in the Carousel of Progress. We always see this show without exception each trip always enjoying the Walt type of atmosphere it always has. Also, because we've seen it so often I always get a kick out of finding something new and on this last trip I really did. In the second scene of the show, in the 20's, you can see that the family is now living on a more City like street outside the kitchen window. The Kohn's Chinese Rest. is really noticeable and right next to it is a small grey sign. I could see it said Attorney at Law, but could not see the name. I was hoping it might be something good. I had never really looked close at this before. Well I was not disappointed. The sign said 'Herb Ryman Attorney at Law'. Wow, very cool! If your reading this blog you probably know who he is, but just in case. Herb was working on films in Hollywood before coming to the Disney Studio in the early 1940's. He worked on a lot of the classic films along with being the illustrator of Walt's Dream of Disneyland. He retired working with the W.E.D. organization. It's a fitting tribute to find Herb Ryman in this attraction. I love finding stuff like this and putting a meaning to it.