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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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Thanksgiving Tepees at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

posted on November 25th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Thanksgiving Tepees at Disney's Fort Wilderness

For many of us, it’s turkey and football on Thanksgiving. But have you seen what happens this time of year at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort? It’s an experience – they celebrate in tepees.

Every November, a few hundred people travel to Walt Disney World Resort to build tepees and then spend the holiday weekend living inside. Many say they’ve never done Thanksgiving any other way.

Walt Disney World Guest Linda Hawley of Jacksonville is part of the group. She says building a tepee is tough work but certainly worth it because “the history just pours in on you.” Others describe spending Thanksgiving in a tepee as “romantic.” Take a look and judge for yourself:

A big part of the gathering called the Lodge Owners Rendezvous is Thanksgiving dinner — and it’s remarkable. To pull it off, about 24 turkeys are put into a large pit lined with aluminum foil. The food is surrounded by charcoal and then covered with giant lids. When it’s ready, the group sits down to what’s believed to be one of the largest sit down, family-style meals in the southeast. And then it’s back to the tepees.

By the way, the tepee experience at Creekside Meadow is invite-only. You need to either own a tepee at the Lodge Owners Rendezvous or be a family member or friend. How about you? Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?

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