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The Sanctuary

posted on July 12th, 2010 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort

One of my favorite gardens in all of the Walt Disney Resort lies outside the Outpost at Fort Wilderness. As guests check in inside the Outpost, they have the opportunity to walk through one of the most unique landscapes anywhere. This “butterfly garden” is passionately maintained, avoiding the use of chemicals where possible. Because of this, it is a paradise for nature lovers, like myself.

I would like to offer this selection of pictures I made this morning as part one of a series embracing the simple beauty and elegance of nature, as well as the many symbiotic relationships that one finds within this single garden. These are but a handful of the many residents of “the sanctuary” …

Milkweed Bug at Fort Wilderness

I call the first image my “Tree of Life”, as it is literally crawling with life! A lone Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) feeds on a milkweed seed pod, while hundreds of aphids feed on the sap from the leaves. Little do they know that the lady bug below will be soon feeding on them …

Dragonfly at Fort Wilderness

In the next photo, I am dazzled by the beautiful colors and markings of a Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly, one of dozens of varieties that constantly zip about.

Butterfly at Fort Wilderness

Finally, a brilliantly marked Gulf Fritillary climbs deftly among lantana blossoms, searching for nectar.

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Shannon from FL on July 12th, 2010 at 11:41 am

Love, Love, Love this! Especially the aphid getting ready to munch on the aphids – natural pest control at its best!

Beautiful work!


Chris on July 12th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Gene, these are beautiful pictures! I once got to go to Discovery Island as part of a photography class with Disney Institute and really fell in love with close-up nature photography. Thank you for sharing these!


cheryl from FL on July 12th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I love all the wildlife at disney fort wilderness. I swear sometimes , I can almost here them say “Cue the butterflies” as I walk by the flowers. LOL


Michael on July 12th, 2010 at 5:17 pm

That’s just pure beauty right there! (:


Kyle from NY on July 12th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Looking forward to our visit this weekend, is there an added cost for this garden experience?


Gene Duncan on July 12th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Kyle- This garden is one of the numerous hidden gems that dot the
Disney property. The only charge is that you donate a few extra moments in which to explore and enjoy them….


peggy on July 12th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Excellent photos! The Gulf Fritillary looks almost human-like walking across the blossoms. What kind of camera do you have?


Gene Duncan on July 13th, 2010 at 10:08 am

I used a Nikon D3 with a twenty-five year old Micro-Nikkor 200mm lens, one of my favorite lenses, even though I have to
focus it the old fashioned way.:-)


michelle from MA on July 13th, 2010 at 12:55 am

Gorgeous captures….the colors are just delightful!!


Hope from AL on July 13th, 2010 at 7:11 am

Gene, your photographs are awe inspiring… as usual! :) You never fail to remind me why the Walt Disney World Resort is my favorite place on Earth!


Linda from Bucks on July 13th, 2010 at 8:30 am

Just wonderful photographs – this has really made my day :0)


janell on July 13th, 2010 at 12:39 pm

These are gorgeous! I was quickly checking my email while at work and even in the busy-ness of my day I was instantly transported to a serene meadow when I saw these photos – I swear I could feel my blood pressure drop and my breath become calm as I looked at these wonderful images. Thank you so much for sharing them!


Kris from IL on July 14th, 2010 at 11:19 am