23 May 2017

Man's Ideas and Achievements

The Swiss Family Treehouse features a 116 step climb up to and through the home of the Robinson family. This self-guided tour, the family must be out in the jungle somewhere, takes place outdoors and that means that the entire attraction is subject to Florida’s harsh weather elements. This means that the rooms and their furnishings, not to mention the branches, limbs, and leaves of the Disneyodendron eximus, have to undergo regular refurbishments. This process usually freshens the wooden elements, replaces anything damaged, and makes the place neat and pretty again for the Robinsons and guests alike. However, the 2016 refurbishment that ran from July through October brought with it a new scene that had not previously been a part of the attraction.

At first glance it is just a well-crafted chair, some tropical fruit, and some decorative flags. Could this be a spot created by the family to relax in their new home? It certainly looks as if they’ve accepted their lives on the island and are unwinding as only one could do on an island paradise once you’ve chased off a bunch of pirates. However, if you are family with Swiss Family Robinson, the 1960 film upon which the attraction is based, you probably know there is more to this chair than meets the eye.

The flags and chair are reminiscent of a scene that falls towards the end of the movie. After the stress of preparing for the imminent pirate attack get to Fritz and Ernst, to say nothing of the stress of competing for the affections of Janet Munro’s Roberta, Father decides it is time to have a bit of a break. He announces that the next day will be the first national holiday for New Switzerland, also known as the island they are castaways on. As part of the festivities there is to be a race, with each of the children, Roberta included, choosing a different island creature as their mount.

Flags from the ship that have been acquired by Ernst are used as decorations, much in the same way guests can now see them as decoration in the new Treehouse scene. As for the chair, this is a place for Mother to sit as official starter of the race, and a platform from which see can oversee the race. As you would suspect with racing ostriches, zebras, donkeys, and baby elephants, a calamity ensues, pirates attack, and the race is never finished, at least not onscreen.

The Swiss Family Treehouse represents one of the classic live-action Disney films, but the attraction itself rarely sees more than a superficial refurbishment. The addition of a scene from a key moment in Swiss Family Robinson just goes to show that new or old classic films always have a place in the parks, and the parks are never going to stop changing.

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