Inspired by Nature: Tarzan's Treehouse at Disneyland

Posted August 19, 2014 by Chris Epting

If you've been to Disneyland, you are no doubt familiar with Tarzan's Treehouse. What you may not know is that the 70-foot attraction was actually created in 1960 to go along with that year's Disney film, "Swiss Family Robinson."

For years, the Swiss Family Treehouse was a popular attraction that made it all the way into the late ‘90s until being re-themed. Similar trees were designed and built at Disney parks around the world, including Florida, Tokyo and Paris.

But what's really interesting is that the tree that inspired the attraction of the first-place actually exists in Anaheim. It was planted some time prior to 1876 and it is known as a Moreton Bay fig tree that came from Australia. Today, right next to the oldest house in Anaheim (the 1857 Mother Colony House), you can see the actual tree at 400 N. West St. It's just about one mile from Disneyland and certainly worth a visit.

Supposedly, designers from Disney visited the tree around the time the film came out in 1960. They took actual casts and molds of the gigantic root system that the tree boasts and literally used those very same impressions to create the attraction at Disneyland. There is no sign or marker by the tree explaining the history, but once you see it you will know you're at the right place. It is a massive and stately piece of nature that is unlike anything else in the area.

Something else to look out for the next time you climb up into Tarzan's Treehouse: there are two homages that harken back to the tree’s original inspiration. A copy of the book,  "Swiss Family Robinson," still sits inside and one of the tables. Also, and old record player still plays the "Swissapolka," which was featured in the film.

Video: Original Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse 

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