First Day of Work, and Disney Horticulture History

Walt and Bill Evans constructing Disneyland.

The first and second days of work were so exciting!!!

First of all, they interviewed 100 applicants and chose 32 of us for the Disney Horticulture Professional Internship. Of the 32 interns, myself and 3 others were chosen to be Pest Management Technicians. The Hort interns will be rotating, so they can work in all 4 parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Each intern plans, implements, and presents a project at the end of the program. The presentations will be given in front of the interns and important people in the departments.

Disney’s horticulture has an interesting history. Walt always had a love for plants. He hired “landscapers of the stars”, Bill and Jack Evans, to landscape his Holmby Hills home with the backyard railroad. As a Marine, Bill Evans traveled the world bringing new plants back to his father’s home in California. He eventually started a landscape company, introducing 231 new landscaping plants to California.

Impressed by their skills, Walt invited Bill and Jack to landscape 80 acres that would be Disneyland. This was the first time “instant landscaping” was performed. They transplanted entire trees to make the gardens look like they’d been established for years. Being short on funds, they were constantly looking for innovative ways to save money. Bill actually got 2,000 trees from highway construction workers; paying them $25 each to box them up. They planted orange trees upside-down for an exotic, gnarled look on the Jungle Cruise ride.

After finishing Disneyland Bill continued to landscape Disneyland additions, Walt Disney World and EPCOT Center. He retired in 1975, but continued as a consultant with the landscape design of Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Paris Disneyland and additions in Walt Disney World such as the Polynesian Resort, Discovery Island, Typhoon Lagoon, MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom.

Pre-transplanted Liberty Tree

Disney World’s Liberty Tree is the largest specimen in Magic Kingdom and the largest tree ever transplanted in Disney World. The 100-year old southern Live Oak (quercus virginiana) was found on the east side of the WDW property, 8 miles from its current location. To lift the 38 ton tree, perpendicular steel pins drilled into the trunk were used as handles for the crane.

Disney’s “Liberty Tree” represents the original tree in Boston, given it’s name in 1765. During the American Revolution, the “sons of liberty” protested the Stamp Act under its branches. It became a symbol of freedom of speech and assembly.

Liberty Tree in Liberty Square. It holds 13 lanterns, representing the 13 original colonies.

The Liberty Tree is the Disney hort logo.

(Storbeck, 2014)

Bill Evans died in 2002 at the age of 92. He was posthumously awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Medal for his lifetime of achievements.

Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park. 2014.


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