There’s a new family in town! The town, in this instance, is Adventureland, and the new family has moved into that spacious treehouse.
The Disneyodendron Semperflorens Grandis (that means “large, everblooming Disney tree,” for those who do not speak Latin) was originally home to the Swiss Family Robinson, and in recent years to Tarzan and his friends. There have been some renovations, but like all old houses with good bones, the Adventureland Treehouse (as it has been christened for now) has stood the test of time.
Guests climbing up to view the fanciful residence may be surprised to find they are tracing the route backwards. This is, however, a return to the way the treehouse was originally experienced. With the removal of the large “snag” that supported a winding set of stairs leading to a swaying bridge, the entrance is once again right at the base of the tree itself.
After walking up two flights of steps (the first of many!), visitors will now view three areas ranged around the base of the tree, as well as the only resident in residence. This is Jane, the ostrich, who peeks over her bamboo enclosure as she moves somewhat restlessly from one side to the other.
Before catching sight of Jane, guests will see the family kitchen, which is the domain of Father. The new family is unnamed, by the way, but by the end of your visit you will know that they are Father, Mother, their daughter, and their twin boys. Father is something of a gourmet, as well as an inventor. This kitchen is filled with a number of devices, all powered by the “magical waters” and the Old Water Wheel that carries them through the house.
Also ranged around the base are a craft area, with a water-powered lathe and potters wheel, among other things. There is also a spacious open air studio where the family gathers to paint. Their subject matter is not the jungle that surrounds them, but things they dream of creating for their treetop home.
“Stairs Ahead” warns a directional sign. And stairs there are, indeed. But the climb is worth it, as we come to our first stop, Mother’s Magical Music Parlor. This homey space is filled with musical instruments, including a water-powered pump organ that fills the air with a familiar tune. “Swisskapolka” was the favorite song of the Swiss Family Robinson, and sharp eared guests had heard it playing from the Victrola amidst the clutter of Tarzan’s “trashed” camp. Here it serves as a leitmotif for the entire treehouse, with subtle variations based on each family member’s room and interests.
Next stop on the tour is the daughter’s room. She is an aspiring astronomer. She is also a correspondent with the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.). For those not familiar not familiar with this worthy organization, more can be found at other Disney theme parks (and cruise ships) around the world. Here the S.E.A. is represented by a letter, left lying casually out on the daughter’s desk, as well as several books and a small banner hanging off the side of the room.
The items from S.E.A. are only a few of a number of details and “Easter eggs” that can be found liberally scattered throughout the treehouse. Mother, for example, has a copy of both “Swiss Family Robinson” and “Tarzan of the Apes” among her reading material. The pet ostrich’s name, Jane? She is almost certainly named for one of the treehouse’s most recent occupants (and a friend of Tarzan). The magical devices in some of the rooms are connected to bamboo pipes that carry water up from their source at the base of the tree. One amusing touch is a fire extinguisher box, labeled “Caution FIRE Ants.”
Speaking of ants and other critters, the highest point in the treehouse is the room shared by the twins. The boys have collected all manner of birds, fish, insects, exotic plants, and at least one monkey. This little rascal (named Rascal, we are told) can be seen hanging upside down, relentlessly attempting to turn the boys’ automated daily schedule from “Feed Lizards” to “Feed Monkey.” The boys have also been keeping what appears to be a number of hand written journals, with such intriguing titles as “Bamboo World,” “Water Wheel,” and “Building a Treehouse.”
There are some longer stretches of walkway here at the top of the treehouse. These afford some elevated views of portions of Adventureland, New Orleans Square, and the Rivers of America. Since it is now established that our anonymous family are current residents of the Adventureland Treehouse, we must assume they enjoy the same views.
One of the more touching Easter eggs in the Adventureland Treehouse may be found on a small landing guests pass on their way back down to the ground. There is just enough room for a straight chair, a portable Victrola, and a small rack with some old-fashioned Edison records. Lying on the chair is a red book with embossed gold lettering: “A Direct Guide to Treehouse Living,” by Kenneth Cooper Annakin. Ken Annakin would have much to say on the topic, as he was the director of the 1962 Disney release of The Swiss Family Robinson.
It is while making one’s way down the treehouse stairs that some of the best views of the kitchen and alfresco dining area can be found. It is also possible to get a good look at the tumbling waterfall that is the source of the tree’s “magical” waters. Interestingly, the exit delivers guests pretty much back at the entrance. There is a lengthy ramp, giving disabled access to the base of the treehouse, that can be used either as an entrance or an exit.
November 10, 2023 was the official opening day of the newly refreshed Adventureland Treehouse. The first guests to enter were treated to an experience that was both brand new, yet comfortingly familiar. Word must have gotten out, because as the day wore on, the line for admission to this new-old home stretched out across the bridge in front of Pirates of the Caribbean. First day cast members were kept busy moving people through the base, up the stairs, and back to Adventureland at the conclusion of their visit.