A new Disneyland landmark inspired by the hometown tree that Walt Disney saw as a boy will pay tribute to the vivid imagination of the founder of the Anaheim theme park, while also serving as a whimsical children’s playground.
The new Dreaming Tree coming to Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland will be inspired by a cottonwood in Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri.
“It had a special meaning to Walt,” wrote Marcy Carricker Smers, author of the new “Walts Disneyland” guide book. “Back when he was a little boy in Marceline, he would lie under its loose leaves and dream. He named it the Dreaming Tree, crediting it as the birthplace of his imagination.
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Walt Disney Imagineering will reimagine Mickey’s Toontown with new interactive play areas for young children as part of the launch of the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway Dark Ride at Disneyland in 2023. Children will be able to climb and play on the sculpted Dreaming Tree roots. Out of the wavy topography of a new meadow.
Mickey’s Toontown will close for construction in March 2022 and will not reopen until sometime in 2023.
The new Toontown tree won’t be the only Dreaming Tree at Disneyland to pay tribute to Walt Disney.
The original Dreaming Tree – a cottonwood with distinctive heart-shaped leaves – was struck and destroyed by lightning. According to Carricker Smothers, three plants grown from the seeds of the original were dubbed the Sons of the Dreaming Tree.
A sapling was planted near the original site of the Dreaming Tree at Disney Family Farm in Marceline. Another plant was presented as a gift to Disneyland by the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in 2005 to commemorate the park’s 50th anniversary.
“The third is a mystery if anything happens to the first two,” Carricker Smurders said during an online video interview. “It’s insurance in the event of a lightning strike twice because it’s such a valuable asset to Marceline.”
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Disneyland’s Dreaming Tree lineage was initially planted near the Mark Twain Riverboat Dock, but was later moved along America’s rivers by the park’s horticultural team, according to Carricker Smers.
Today, The Sun of the Dreaming Tree can be seen at Disneyland while traveling on the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Sailing Ship Columbia or Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes in the Lakota Village, located behind a large tepee and a fire pit.
“It’s beautifully cared for and preserved,” said Carricker Smothers.
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Walt Disney and his sister Ruth studied insects, birds, and nature under the original Dreaming Tree in Marceline and often woke up in the spring that still runs nearby. According to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, Walt called nature adventures “Belly Botany” and drew on memories of his childhood under the trees for the early Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons. On Marceline’s return trips, Walt always sets aside hours to reflect alone under the Dreaming Tree.
According to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, during a planting ceremony at the Disney Family Farm the Dreaming Tree saplings grown in Marceline were planted in soil brought from the Magic Kingdom with water from the Florida theme park’s River of America.