Over thirty years ago a majestic 130-year-old live oak tree (Quercus virginiana) was found on the eastern part of the Disney property and moved about eight miles to the Magic Kingdom Park. At the time of the move, this enormous tree weighed 38 tons and had a root ball measuring 18-feet by 16-feet by four feet deep.
Because of its size and weight, the oak could not be moved by simply wrapping a cable around the trunk. Instead, holes were drilled through the middle of the trunk and steel dowel pins inserted so it could be lifted by a 100-ton crane. Once transplanted, the pins were removed and replaced with sections of hardwood and the wood soon healed.
The entire process took several months to complete. Known as one of the most spectacular big tree moves, the oak we call the “Liberty Tree” stands proudly in the middle of Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom Park. It has thirteen lanterns hanging on the tree representing the original thirteen colonies. Our Disney’s Horticulture team was so proud of the successful move, the “Liberty Tree” was adopted as our official logo.
I had understood that they tried to replace the original hardwood plugs that had been removed, but they had become infected and threatened to damage the whole tree. So they were replaced with concrete instead. I have also read the horticulturalists grafted a smaller oak onto the larger tree to attain a more uniform shape.
@Jill, you’re correct about the number 13 being associated with the tree and the original colonies, but there is not 13 branches. There are 13 lanterns hanging from the tree! 🙂
Great story! It is a beautiful tree…
Another interesting tree at WDW is near the Fishing Hole in the Alligator Bayou section of Riverside (Formerly Dixie Landings). I did note with amusement the Tree of Life was also a transplant…but the transplant was an oil derrick and the tree has almost as much wood as the Tikki Room’s roof. (The number of stones in Cinderalla’s Castle is another issue)
There’s a story that goes with this tree – something about 13 branches and the original 13 colonies. Anyone more familiar with it?
One thing not mentioned here, that I found incredibly interesting. Disney planted 2 offspring trees from this tree, which are waiting to be transplanted if anything were to happen to this one. Now that’s thinking ahead creatively!
I first saw it as a 10 year old in June 1972. What would really be cool is to know the ‘above ground’ stats. In other words, how tall/wide was it when it was moved and how tall/wide is it today?
That is soo cool to know! Even my 14 year old son thought so!
As a Horticulturist, this is an amazingly interesting story. Thanks and Lord bless!
What a great story. Thanks for sharing it. It’s fun to learn these little known facts – makes the visit more interesting.
Just shows how much Disney appreciates beauty and would rather work hard to preserve it than just cut it down & plant a seedling in liberty square. A lesser company would have done just that. Disney has shown time & again that going the easy route is not always the best!
I remember sitting under this tree on my Senior Trip in HS with my friends talking about our futures, it had this serenity about it, like a big hug.
Wow, that’s amazing. I will have to take a moment to gaze in wonder of this tree, knowing it’s history, the next time I’m in MK. 🙂 Isn’t nature wonderful, the way the tree could heal itself? AWESOME.
I absolutely love the LIBERTY TREE. It is one of my favorite spots to go to. Never knew the story until today about having the tree moved to where it is. Never knew the story of the lanterns until today either. WDW does such beautilful horticultural work all around the place that we are always going “OOHHHH” and “AAHHH” and snap picture after picture. Thank you again for all of the care you put into everything you do. Love going to and visiting Walt Disney World.
I have loved this tree from the first time I saw it! It is beautiful and has a fantastic shape. It’s been a meeting place for my family for many years! Thanks for taking the time and effort to move it!
I knew I loved sitting under this tree for a good reason! Just another reason why this place is so magical! Grins!
Thanks for sharing this! I never knew that, what a cool story! Agree with Jeff, videos and/or additional photos would be great!
Great story and background on the logo! Is there a video of the tree being transplanted? I would love to see that!