Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gardens of The World...Topiaries of the Kingdom.

Our Walt Disney World vacations of the 70's and 80's had a very different "feel" than they do nowadays. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

In the early days our family would head down for an 8 to 10 day trip to a Walt Disney World that consisted of ONE park and just TWO resorts.

By today's standards, there wasn't much to do, but at the time we were always entertained and were just as saddened by the last day of our vacation as we are now.

One of the up sides to the "One Park World" was that we had plenty of time to slow down and check out all that they had to offer. One thing that is often overlooked today, by the hoards to visitors who rush from attraction to attraction, is the landscaping and gardens.

Today's article will focus on one of my very favorite landscape attractions at Walt Disney World...the topiaries.

There are still a few topiaries to be found on a regular basis at The World.

The Sea Serpent of the Magic Kingdom is still patroling the lawns around the Hub in front of Cinderella's Castle.
There are also a few to be found around EPCOT, especially during The Flower and Garden Festival, when they all but take over the park.

But back in the day, if you wanted to see a fantastic collection of topiaries you would have traveled to the area between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Contemporary Resort. There you could find a wonderous collection of these fantastic "beasts" and even get up close and personal for a few photographs.

In these photos, taken around 1979, you can see my brothers and I, along with our Mom, standing with the Elephant Parade Topiaries.

These sculpures were along side the road, and I remember seeing people posing with them nearly every time we drove past.

Here is another photo from that very same "Photo Shoot" of my brothers and I posing with the stork and "obelisk" topiaries near the Transportation and Ticket Center. (Note the matching Mickey Shirts, complimented by the vintage Mickey Socks...I'd still wear those, if only I could find them!!!)

This photo, from the 1992 book, The Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort, shows what appears to be those same elephant topiaries some years later, in a different location. Now surrounded by flower gardens, you could no longer walk up to them to pose for a photo op.

Here is another Elephant sculpture. (apparently, elephants are a hot property in the topiary world). As you can see in the photo, this handsome fella lives at the TTC as well.

There were also many other topiaries which lived right beside The Transportation and Ticket Center as well as any other number of floral creations which were scattered about the area.

I suppose my special memories of these topiaries are not so much about the plants themselves, but more about a time in The World's history where there was less offered but perhaps more to be discovered, simply because you had the time to do so.

Here are a few more vintage topiary photos which were sent in by our good friend Ryan Wilson of The Main Street Gazette.

Here we see Ryan's parents posing, very stylishly might I add, in front of a few of the topiaries which were found at the Transportation and ticket Center, circa 1980.

A special thank you to Ryan for allowing us to see these rare gems from his family collection.



  1. what always kills me about these old WDW pics is how barren things look. it brings home why, at the age of 6 and having been to DL many many times, I was so dissapointed in the look and feel of WDW! of course I'm glad that, at the age of 40, I finally "gave in" and checked out WDW again..... It's grown on me I guess.....


  2. Lisa,
    I totally get what you are saying. It is amazing how different things are now compared to then.
    I didn't have the pleasure of a Disneland visit until 2006, so I suppose I never knew anything other than WDW, but looking back at pics fromm DL when it first opened, it is cool to see just how "under-decorated" it too was, early in it's "lifetime".
    As trees mature and time passes, everything seems to get more and more beautiful and "developed" (in a good way).


  3. I have always been fascintated by the topiaries at Walt Disney World. How do they do it? They are just incredible.