Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde Hosts “Tour” of Animal Kingdom on Instagram

in Disney, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Joe Rohde Animal Kingdom Tour Instagram

It’s a tough time for any Disney fan right now — including the Walt Disney Imagineers. We’re all trying to figure out how to keep the magic alive while we’re all stuck at home. One of the legendary creatives Joe Rohde has taken his own approach to spread the magic.

Today, Rohde posted two pictures of the Tree of Life on his Instagram. The massive landmark is the centerpiece for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida.

joe rohde

He announces that he will be giving a photo tour in the post, saying,

Well. It doesn’t look like we are meeting up at Disney’s Animal Kingdom real soon, so how about a tour of my personal photos of the park. If you haven’t been to the park, or ever heard of it (which is definitely a thing on the West Coast) perhaps this will help people understand what it is. Maybe even convince some skeptics to try it out. If you have been there, it might just be more inside knowledge. 

He begins, of course with the Tree of Life. He explains that the Tree of Life was “named for the old fashioned 19th century diagram of interconnected spread of life.” The Imagineers chose this tree because they needed something natural to represent the relationship between humans and animals, but also a magical that shows the park to be an exceptional place by disappearing “under patient observation to become nothing but animals.” He concludes by stating, “the Tree promises two things. 1. This place is a story place about animals. 2.This place is a designed place full of virtuoso accomplishments.” He then sites work by Aristotle.

You can read the full Instagram post below:

View this post on Instagram

Well. It doesn’t look like we are meeting up at Disney’s Animal Kingdom real soon, so how about a tour of my personal photos of the park. If you haven’t been to the park, or ever heard of it (which is definitely a thing on the West Coast) perhaps this will help people understand what it is. Maybe even convince some skeptics to try it out. If you have been there, it might just be more inside knowledge. So. In the middle of the park is the centerpiece and icon. The Tree of Life. Named for the old fashioned 19th century diagram of interconnected spread of life. Because the park is dedicated to the themes of animals and their relationships to humans,(good and bad) we needed a non-architectural icon…something “natural.” Since nature is everywhere anyway, we also need to signify that this place is exceptional..in some way “magical.” Thus..a strange tree. A tree whose body disappears under patient observation to become nothing but animals. A metaphor for the rewards nature can provide to the careful observer. But since we all know it has been made..it is a work of arty…it also signifies the intent to communicate..to tell a story. In fact, the Tree promises two things. 1. This place is a story place about animals. 2.This place is a designed place full of virtuoso accomplishments. (See Aristotle’s essay on Mimesis.)

A post shared by Joe Rohde (@joerohde) on

Joe Rohde was THE Imagineer behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom, from initial conception through the addition of Pandora: The World of Avatar. The Animal Kingdom projects have been in many ways the projects that would make him as much of a household name as an Imagineer could be outside of Marty Sklar and Mary Blair.

Nobody knows that theme park better than Mr. Rohde, and this is the closest many of us will probably ever get to getting a personal tour through the park with the man himself. He was supposed to take part in a multi-day Earth Day celebration at the park, but judging by his tone, it appears that might not be happening.

tree of life awakening

If you would like to follow along and learn a thing or two about the most immersive park at Walt Disney World, go follow him on Instagram today.

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