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  • [Pictures] Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

    With the Central Plaza looking more denuded than ever (especially the center hub), I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this topic

    Some updated pics... the hub appears to have become even more bald recently:


    Tomorrowland & Contemporary clearly visible from within Liberty Square (formerly blocked by Hub trees):




    ****

    Going back in time.

    As recently as 2002, with shade trees showing 30 years of growth:




    Rightblock's essay:
    "“The Place Will Get More Beautiful Each Year”
    Preserving and Restoring the Sublime Beauty of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks

    Walt Disney World is a place that inspires and enlightens, so much so that visits to Walt Disney World typically refresh and invigorate guests. This is the result of the expertise and efforts of thousands of Disney cast members, be they Imagineers who dream and design, helpful front desk clerks who greet guests at the resorts, or skilled landscapers who trim and manicure the acres of land that Walt and his brother Roy worked so hard to acquire.

    It is easy, then, to understand why many guests become sentimentally attached to attractions, shops, and resorts. But Disney parks are not museums; they are living, breathing entities that, in Walt’s own words, will never be complete “as long as there is imagination left in the world.” But Walt is also quoted as saying, “even the trees will grow; the place will get more beautiful each year.” Quiet areas of understated beauty make Disney parks unique; these fantastic vistas live on in the imaginations of guests long after they return home.

    Every structure, every planting, every color at Disney theme parks is chosen with careful deliberation by the talented artists at Imagineering. In his book Designing Disney, John Hench writes that “Imagineers carefully select images essential to each story [they] want to tell in a Disney park.” Disney guests “engage in a special world of story” when they enter the parks; they feel immersed “within the special world that [Imagineering] created” (Hench 30). No place is that more evident than in the Magic Kingdom where subtle visual clues lead to smooth transitions from one fantatic land to another.

    Imagine, then, the shock of a "hubless" Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney felt that Disneyland’s Hub gave “people a lot of space” and “a sense of orientation.” Imagineers conceived the Hub as a “design solution to accommodate guests’ decision making” (Hench 37). That leafy oasis of shade surrounded by inviting park benches offered tantalizing views into the other lands of the Magic Kingdom. It also provided a gathering place complete with ample seating and much needed shade. “Just like Walt did,” the Imagineer “assumes the guests’ point of view . . . tak[ing] the guests’ interests to heart and defend[ing] them when others didn’t think that it mattered” (Hench 20). The Hub in its original form fulfilled this promise.

    A 1982 souvenir book entitled Walt Disney World: The First Decade devotes three pages to what it calls “the miracle of the Hub.” What is so special about this area of the Park? In addition to the practicality of providing “easy access to all areas of the Magic Kingdom,” the Hub provides a “sense of continuity” (27). The goal of the Imagineers was to ensure that “all the elements within a land work together to create a smooth and constant chain of events” (27); this was provided by the greenery of the Hub, a visual break making transitions into each land smooth and seamless.

    It's one thing to change and update attractions; it's quite another to physically alter the original design and integrity of the park itself. Now, in the Magic Kingdom of all places, the “visual details disagree” so “guests experience active clutter” (79). The neon lights of Tomorrowland are now clearly visible from the Liberty Square riverboat landing; the angular buildings of Tomorrowland restaurants are too visible from Main Street and Fantasyland. Worst of all, the actual perspective of Main Street is ruined. The hub provided a leafy transition from turn-of-the-century Main Street to a fairy tale castle. The “forced perspective [of Main Street], combined with the depth of the Hub beyond the end of the street, opens up a vast and exhilarating vista to the guest entering the park” (The Imagineering Field Guide ot the Magic Kingdom). Without those trees, Main Street looks much smaller; the castle loses much of its mystique and allure. It literally feels as if the castle has been pulled towards the front of the park. Instead of a far away portal to a land of enchantment, it's been reduced to an immense stone structure from Europe plopped down at the end of a very American street. This “mixed message sets up conflicts [and] creates tension” (Hench 79); the sense of balance and proportion is so altered that approaching this lovely castle is no longer inviting or suspenseful.

    John Hench believed that “in order to communicate story and character . . . we must always consider the elements of space and time: the spaces through which our guests travel within and between attractions, and the time it takes to do this” (5). The loss of the hub violates the time-honored hallmark of Imagineering design that “each land relates to others in a noncompetitive way - contradictions that would intrude upon what the story seeks to communicate [are] studiously avoided” (WDW: The First Decade 27). The “distant lands of adventure, America’s past, fantasy, and the future” no longer seem so distant.

    There is no valid excuse for the removal of the Hub at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom; this travesty mars one of the most famous, most recognizable, most beloved streets in the world. The entire Hub must be replaced, complete with stone benches, lush green grass, flowers, and mature trees with twinkling lights.

    It seems that some things should remain immutable in this crazy, upside down world where the only constant is change. There are some places, like National Parks, historical monuments, fairy-tale castles, and Disney imagineered landscapes that ought to be protected from the vagaries and fashions of the marketing plans of a disposable culture.

    The power of the Disney parks to move and inspire cannot be underestimated: What other man-made structures pull at the heartstrings of so many people worldwide as those created by Disney? The Magic Kingdom’s signature Hub must be restored to its original warmth and integrity in order to fulfill Walt’s vision of parks that grow more beautiful with each passing year."

    ***

    Amen, brother, amen... the only place where I might disagree with the above is where he says the castle looks like an "immense stone structure." IMO, the castle's great weakness has always been that the fiberglass and gypsum materials used in its facades (particularly the smooth, non-brick upper portions) can make it look plastic and kitschy, especially in daylight.

    Tokyo mitigates this somewhat by using a fading color scheme to simulate actual stone. In the Magic Kingdom, being partially-obscured behind the real living trees of the plaza was the castle's saving grace - allowing the more cynical visitors to still be enchanted by the view. With the trees gone, the castle looks bigger, faker and more ostentatious.

    Alas, even if (new) management began to replant trees (not the shrubs they currently have) in the Central Plaza tomorrow, it would take decades to realize the arboreal splendor that was destroyed 2003-2009. Still, it ought to be done asap.
    Last edited by RandySavage; 12-15-2009, 11:15 PM.
    http://www.idealbuildout.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

    What a shame! The Castle looks even more sterile, cold and imposing without the trees. The view of the Contemporary from Liberty Square is simply shocking! Why do they keep making the Magic Kingdom more ugly?
    Galactic Member

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    • #3
      Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

      I remember when there were trees at the MK.

      IMO without the trees is SO MUCH BETTER. The castle looks bigger and better views for Wishes. Plus, from a kid's point of view the trees would block a lot- and that's quite a no-no.

      Contemporary from LS? They can' control every view. and from that pic you are looking outside of LS where you can clearly see TLand, too. I don't think this should be overly scrutinized. Contemporary view > more trees

      one hundred and one

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      • #4
        Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

        I could almost swear there was another thread about this. The trees get too big and they end up replacing them with smaller trees. It's to keep the view nice and clear and it keep with the forced Perspective.
        DisneyTwins
        Since May 2003

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        • #5
          Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

          Just got back from Magic Kingdom and I've got to say that it has never looked worse! The hub in particular is a mess. Huge, ugly, and odd looking witout curbs. It is like a giant speed bump with a statue in the middle.

          So much charm has been lost. I guess management is more concerned with castle shows and fireworks these days. They have been making VERY bad decisions in Florida lately. A complete and total lack of vision.
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          • #6
            Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

            So sad.
            Galactic Member

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            • #7
              Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

              Originally posted by Dustysage View Post
              Just got back from Magic Kingdom and I've got to say that it has never looked worse! The hub in particular is a mess. Huge, ugly, and odd looking witout curbs. It is like a giant speed bump with a statue in the middle.

              So much charm has been lost. I guess management is more concerned with castle shows and fireworks these days. They have been making VERY bad decisions in Florida lately. A complete and total lack of vision.
              Amen to this!

              The WDW castle doesn't look nearly as overbearing and cold when it has trees. Now in a barren wasteland of concrete it serves as a cruel reminder and ugly symbol of the "money is more" mentality pumping through WDW.

              Si vous voulez venir danser aussi, le ticket d’entrée n’est jamais gratuit.
              Il faut payer de sa vie.

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              • #8
                Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                wow, now I'm even more excited to start the college program. (sarcasm)
                DisneyTwins
                Since May 2003

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                • #9
                  Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                  I gotta say there are a lot of things that bother me in the World, honestly, the trees are not one of them. Lack of shade, sure, but I like it either way.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                    I'm going to have to say I love looking at the Castle. There are ways they could add more trees without blocking the view of the castle itself which seems to be their focus. I like seeing the Partners statue with the castle clear behind it. To me I'm not really in the Magic Kingdom until I've walked under the train and gotten my first view of the castle. What they should have done is just cut back the trees.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                      Originally posted by Dustysage View Post
                      Just got back from Magic Kingdom and I've got to say that it has never looked worse! The hub in particular is a mess. Huge, ugly, and odd looking witout curbs. It is like a giant speed bump with a statue in the middle.

                      So much charm has been lost. I guess management is more concerned with castle shows and fireworks these days. They have been making VERY bad decisions in Florida lately. A complete and total lack of vision.
                      It never looked worse because of the hub? Or other reasons?

                      I was just in MK a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was doing great. All ride effects were working, queues looked great, crowd control was excellent, ect. It's only MAJOR problem is capacity- which it appears they are majorly addressing. It has looked a lot worse than this in recent years so it's pretty shocking to me you're saying it's worst it has ever been.

                      IDK what you mean by lack of vision- the hub or the park as a whole? If it's the hub then my response would be- removing the trees allowed others to have more vision of the stage show and Wishes and if it's the park then ... well, MK has a bright future as far as we know.

                      one hundred and one

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                      • #12
                        Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                        I've actually never really noticed that there were no trees there. I think theres a possibility that they did this becuase of crowd issues. Fireworks, for example, the spots where the trees obstructed the view can now be used and the stage show. Thats just a guess.

                        I've become the type of people that pick every wrongdoing out, especially at WDW. I never noticed this and never really thought it was a problem.
                        DisneyTwins
                        Since May 2003

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                        • #13
                          Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                          I miss the trees. And I agree with Dusty that Florida has been making some very BAD moves lately. One of many reasons why I didn't set foot into any of the parks at WDW this year.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                            I do think the Castle looks much better with the trees...but it might not be the best for guests wanting to see the fireworks.

                            I think the trees worked much better at Orlando than they do at Anaheim since they did not dwarf the castle.

                            While for me it's not a huge issue they might consider adding some ivy or flowering vines along the castle walls to some more color and life.
                            Down with the Hat

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                            • #15
                              Re: Magic Kingdom Tree Massacre, Part II

                              I can understand trimming the trees back for viewing fireworks. But hacking them all down? They could have left the ones closer to the castle alone and just cut the ones back in the hub area for better fireworks viewing . After all the fireworks are in the SKY.
                              Galactic Member

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