The majestic Tree of Life stands proudly as the icon of the Animal Kingdom Park in Florida.From a distance, this imposing structure appears to be the real thing. As you draw closer, the amazing details come to life. An international team of artisans were brought together to design and implement the carving of nearly 400 animals in it's intricate framework. The first challenge was designing a 145 foot tall "tree" that could stand up to hurricane force winds, but still look realistic. A unique system of fabricating and assembling the branches was designed that brought the flexibility that was needed to bring this idea to life. There are 45 secondary branches that lead to 756 tertiary branches. With 7891 end branches, the entire structure is covered with 102,583 manmade leaves, each of which is more than a foot long.
While this would be an amazing accomplishment on it's own, it takes second stage to the carvings. Working within the delicate balance between sound structure and artistry, images began to emerge. A branch becomes an elephant's trunk, a root a snake, each figure seamlessly flowing into another. Style took precedence over accuracy. The goal was not to depict the animals true to size, but to have one form lead to another, all the while appearing to have naturally developed during the growth of this amazing "tree."
The "Tree of Life" is one of the most photographed structures in Disney World. For the best camera shots, look for the Kodak picture spots that can be found on your guide map.