Category Rank: 3
Park: Animal Kingdom
Park Rank: 3
Our next item introduces a new category. A category like "landmark" would be one of the top nostalgia categories of a place like Washington D.C., with its many famous monuments. WDW, of course, has always built its parks with a central landmark, which serves both for symbolism as well as a point for navigation. So it comes as no surprise that landmarks make this list.
The interesting thing is, Disney really doesn't have anything else that you would consider a "landmark". Perhaps the statue of Walt and Mickey. Maybe some of the structures within the World Showcase. But those are not as significant to rise to the level of this list like the central landmarks do.
This will be a pretty anti-climactic category, as the Tree of Life sits at #3 in this category. The top two are pretty obvious and will have much higher ranks. Which, by process of elimination, means that the Sorcerer's Hat is not on this list. Why not?
Well, for starters, the Hat is no more. They have torn it down as part of some major park remodeling, which will take out several other attractions as well (Indiana Jones, Backlot Tours, maybe even the Muppets?). It's hard to rank a nostalgic item that doesn't exist anymore. The Hat actually was never supposed to be permanent and stayed long past its "freshness" date. And, in terms of the nature of the landmark, that is the one that seemed the least unique and the most manufactured, as if they were just trying to find something to be that landmark.
We don't shed a tear for the Hat being gone, and this entry isn't truly about it. It is about the Tree of Life, the central landmark in Animal Kingdom. The tree was not the first choice; there was some talk about Noah's Ark or even some sort of 3-story carousel. They ended up settling on the tree, but still had some debate about how to make it survive hurricane season. So as most good things come to life, they decided to make the trunk out of an oil rig.
The tree itself is 145 feet tall and has carvings of over 300 animals on its trunk. It makes for a great view from all the way around the park, for many great photo ops. The tree doesn't have the years that the main two landmarks with WDW have, but it has garnered quite a bit of recognizability within its brief time.
We go to Magic Kingdom again for #41, looking at its first Park Ambience item, one that is home to Woody and Jessie.