Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World

The Tree of Life serves as the central focal point of Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and is also the park’s icon.

The Tree of Life serves as the central focal point of Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and is also the park’s icon.

While all of the Magic Kingdom-style Disney theme parks have a castle in the center of the park, that obviously wouldn’t fit in an animal-related park. So instead, the Imagineers chose a large tree. But this is no ordinary tree, because its trunk is made out of hundreds of carved animal figures.

Of course, the tree is also much larger than any normal (that is, real) tree, too. It really is something to see, especially in person, a marvel of design and engineering. On our December visit, we took a few minutes to walk through the Tree of Life Gardens that surround the tree, so that we could get a better look at it.

Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

While walking through the gardens, you can get an even better view of all of the animals carved into the tree’s trunk and branches. It seems like each time we go, I see an animal that I haven’t seen before. It is such a great level of detail that you can’t take it all in at once. Also, being right up underneath the tree gives you an even better sense of its scale. I almost feel ant-sized, which is fitting because the 3-D movie inside the tree is “It’s Tough To Be a Bug,” featuring Flick from the movie A Bug’s Life.

Also, seeing the tree reminds me of a visit I made to Walt Disney Imagineering way back in 1993. During our tour, we were shown an early model of the Tree of Life, even though the park wouldn’t be officially announced until a couple of years later. It was neat to see it in its early model form, and then to see it years later when it was finally completed.

Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the evening

I like how you can see the Tree of Life from several places throughout Animal Kingdom. Sometimes, it is just a glimpse here and there, and other times it is a full view of the tree framed by other foliage, such as the above view in the early evening.

There are so many unique angles, making the tree look interesting in all kinds of photos. I think the Tree of Life ranks as my favorite artificial tree. Sorry, Swiss Family Treehouse.

The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon. - Psalm 92:12

About the Photos

The third photo above is one of those good reminders of the value of shooting in Raw format if your camera allows it. In the original photo, the sky was washed out as the foreground wasn’t getting much natural light in the early evening. Using Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop, I was able to pull out some of the color that was present in the sky, making for a much better final photo. Here is a before-and-after look showing the difference:

Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photos: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens
Date: December 19, 2016
Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.