Halloween at the Walt Disney World Resort

Did You Miss It? The Disneyland Attraction That’s Millions of Years Old

posted on October 22nd, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company


Look closely in Frontierland and you’ll find a rare geological artifact – the remains of a petrified tree that is believed to be between 55 million and 70 million years old! Did you miss it on your last trip to Disneyland Park? If you’ve seen it, did you know the tree was a present from Mrs. Walt Disney?

Here’s the story: On July 11, 1956, Walt Disney purchased the remains of a petrified tree that once stood 200 feet tall from the Pike Forest Fossil Beds, a privately owned petrified forest area in Colorado that is now part of Florrisant Fossil Beds National Monument. Walt arranged for the tree to be sent to California. More than a year later, Lillian Disney presented the tree to Disneyland Park, reportedly saying that the tree was “too large for the mantle” at home.
Petrified Tree at Disneyland Park

The photo above shows Mr. and Mrs. Disney in September 1957, at the time the gift was presented to Disneyland Park.
Petrified Tree at Disneyland Park

The rest of the story can be found on the plaque inscription, which reads:

PETRIFIED TREE
FROM THE
PIKE PETRIFIED FOREST, COLORADO
THIS SECTION WEIGHS FIVE TONS AND MEASURES 7 1/2 FEET
IN DIAMETER. THE ORIGINAL TREE, ESTIMATED TO HAVE
BEEN 200 FEET TALL, WAS PART OF A SUB-TROPICAL FOREST
55 TO 70 MILLION YEARS AGO IN WHAT IS NOW COLORADO.
SCIENTISTS BELIEVE IT TO BE OF THE REDWOOD OF SEQUOIA
SPECIES. DURING SOME PREHISTORIC ERA A CATACLYSMIC
UPHEAVAL CAUSED SILICA LADEN WATER TO OVERSPREAD
THE LIVING FOREST. WOOD CELLS WERE CHANGED DURING THE
COURSE OF TIME TO SANDSTONE. OPALS WERE FORMED
WITHIN THE TREE TRUNK ITSELF.

PRESENTED TO DISNEYLAND
BY
MRS. WALT DISNEY
SEPTEMBER, 1957

On your next trip, look for this artifact along the banks of the Rivers of America near The Golden Horseshoe.

Unique stories about Disneyland Park and its history can be told through a variety of historical photos. Check back on the Disney Parks Blog in the coming months for more photos that help tell these interesting stories.

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13 Comments 1 Reply

1

Rachel on October 22nd, 2009 at 8:00 pm

i totally remember seeing that on my first/last trip to Disneyland back in September! I went a few days before the D23 Expo to get to know the park and on the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour, we saw Lillian’s Rock – such a humorous and yet really cool piece of history!!

2

William from CA on October 22nd, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I live in Northern California but had been to Disneyland probably 5 times when I first noticed the tree in 1965. Has it always been in the same place?

 

Heather Hust Rivera on October 23rd, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Hi William. Yes, the petrified tree has always been in the same place since Mrs. Disney gave it to Disneyland.

3

Robert from FL on October 23rd, 2009 at 12:41 am

I really like the now and then photos of the petrified tree. I look forward to more of these historical articles.

4

Evan on October 23rd, 2009 at 8:59 am

Such a kooky DL mark I would love to see.

Can’t wait to make it out there.

5

Francine from CA on October 23rd, 2009 at 7:03 pm

I love seeing that tree! Every time I go, I see it. Personally I do miss the Country Bears. I used to go all the time when I was little

6

Sheral on October 23rd, 2009 at 7:14 pm

What’s amazing to see as well – all the trees in the background. Look at how much they’ve grown between the two photos. The plants & trees at Disneyland are one of my favorite things to look at, knowing how old some are. :) I’ve not noticed this tree before but I will check it out on my next trip, thanks!

7

Michael from CA on October 23rd, 2009 at 7:34 pm

I’ve noticed this since the first time I came to Disneyland when I was 4. Wasn’t able to read it till I was older though. I also agree with Robert from FL. I would love to see some more now/then photos of other sites at Disneyland. The best part about these photos is the angle of the shot; It’s almost identical.

8

Michael from CA on October 23rd, 2009 at 7:35 pm

PS: why was the plaque changed? Any change in wording there?

9

Louie from CA on October 23rd, 2009 at 7:44 pm

wow, i’ve seen this many times, but I haven’t read the plaque. how amazing!

@ #5, Francine, yes the country bears was a fun show! remember the talking heads that were mounted on the wall? They’re hidden inside the Winnie the Pooh ride! just a little fun fact, in case you wanted to know! :]

Great story to post! I’ll look forward to the next one!

10

Maureen from BC on October 23rd, 2009 at 8:18 pm

I noticed this the very first time I visited Disney as an adult…I was so interested in EVERYTHING around me, and noticed so many things…this is why I always suggest to people to go without kids once…it’s a very different experience without children, and just as magical, in a different way.

11

Minesh on October 23rd, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I love this piece of Disney history! It’s a great feature to the Rivers of America and often serves as a great picture spot with Tom Sawyer Island right behind it!

A question a little off topic though, but about Disneyland history none the less. When leave Fantasyland headed to Main Street U.S.A through Sleeping Beauties Castle there is a clock hanging above the tunnel. I believe it’s made of iron and has always stayed at the same time, the hands of the clock never moving. Does that have an significance? Is there a reason it’s set to this particular time?

12

David on October 24th, 2009 at 1:04 am

While reading one the comments, I read about the country bears and im wondering why they were even taken out?

13

ELLEN on October 25th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I stop and read this plaque evey time I visit.Unfortunately Iam 3 hours on a plane away.To me Disneyland is the “Great Escape” from it all.

13 Comments