I found this photo on Flickr, and besides being a photo of a very cute kid, it reminded me of something I miss at the Magic Kingdom whenever I visit now: trees. Specifically, trees at the Hub.
The Hub trees back in 1975 were big, beautiful, and made the place feel very park-like, a little destination unto its own. When I'm there now, it feels desolate: a place to walk through, but not particularly a place to hang out and relax.
Where did the trees go? Perhaps they simply died; I'm guessing the more likely reason is that they were victim to the fireworks shows that came to dominate the Magic Kingdom's evening agenda in the '80s and '90s. Back in 1975, when this photo was taken, fireworks shows were relatively rare occurrences; management hadn't stumbled onto the fact that fireworks were key to getting people to stay in the park all evening, and spend extra dollars on food and sweatshirts needed to withstand the chiller night air. Trees make it hard to see fireworks; as a result, today we have shrubs.
Not a complaint, exactly…if my hypothesis is correct, the loss of the trees probably makes sense (at least, for those people that enjoy fireworks shows more than I do.) But I miss the way it looked back then.
UPDATE: Not long after posting this, it occurred to me that the tree removal might have as much to do with the stage in front of Cinderella Castle as the fireworks show. Now that, I have to say, I do have a problem with. Ignoring the question of whether the shows are ever any good, not only would it be a travesty to have knocked down some beautiful trees for a show that only a small percentage of visitors actually want to see (the shows are inevitably geared to six-year-olds), it's not appropriate to ever close off the primary entrance to Fantasyland, let alone do so four times a day. (Walking through the castle is one of the defining experiences at a Disney park.) Okay…end rant.