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Literally The Strangest Thing I’ve Ever Seen At Walt Disney World

I considered many titles for this article.

The typically punny things, naturally – things like “Why We Deride” and things like that. But I think it’s important to underline the fact that this is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen at Walt Disney World. That might be quite the buildup, as I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but this one left me standing in the street, mouth agape, and laughing maniacally. It’s just so strange.

It’s well documented that I have a bone to pick with the Studios Formerly Known As Disney-MGM. Not only is it generally bursting to the seams with fail…

"What was that you were saying about visual contradictions, Mr. Hench?"

…But among all the Florida parks it has fallen furthest from its potential for greatness (Yes, yes, I know current Future World might qualify for that dubious honor, but at least it used to be brilliant and EPCOT still has Showcase). I’ve always been enthralled by the classic era of Hollywood filmmaking, as well as the iconic look of that period’s architecture and design. Studios should be a slam dunk, with such rich material to draw on; it also gives designers leeway to explore themes and periods that are absorbing but wouldn’t fit in a Kingdom-class park. The western frontier and tropical jungle were dangerous places that Disneyland distilled and made safe and accessible; to modern audiences the mean streets of Los Angeles and New York City might seem equally threatening but they’re just as full of rich iconography and deeply-ingrained lore to exploit in a theme park environment. Studio whiffs on that potential and lacks a clear vision or purpose.

But that’s all beside the point. While my subject here might possibly be used to illustrate the unfocused and sub-par aspects of the Studios, it’s just so incredibly bizarre and random that it transcends lack of theming (or veneer-thin theming) and poor spatial layout. It’s so absurdist it almost becomes art in and of itself; there’s simply no reason why this existed. The fact that it did exist means that somewhere there’s a story that I desperately want to know.

A warning – these pictures are about a year old. This probably isn’t there anymore. It’s taken me this long to come to terms with the fact that I did not hallucinate this.

So, say you’re meandering around Studios. You’re wandering around enjoying the lavish theming and scenic vistas:

Sad trombone.

You turn onto the New York Street. Hey, theming. This looks promising.

"So where's the line for the Spider-Man ride?"

You turn to the right. “Hey, that looks interesting,” you say. Is this an attraction, a store? A DVC kiosk? No, these are all false fronts. Nothing to do. But… what’s in the window of this jewelry store?

"Maybe I'll buy my best gal a ring and... wait a minute..."

There, in the window of this jewelry store, is A TREE MADE OUT OF ROLLS OF TOILET PAPER.

NO SERIOUSLY.

That’s right, a tree made of rolls of Angel Soft toilet paper. In a sylvan glen, as depicted by a giant flat picture of a forest. Fake colored leaves lined the ground around the tree. Please note my favorite detail: the single sheets of toilet paper, suspended by fishing line, that depict the “leaves” falling from the magical toilet paper tree. TOILET PAPER LEAVES HANGING FROM FISHING LINE, PEOPLE. Hanging rather limply, too, I must add. Presentation, people!

I won’t even point out the irony of 1971 Disney creating a magical Orange Tree and 2010 Disney creating a magical toilet paper tree. OK, maybe I will point that out. Is there a Little Toilet Bird? Merchandising potential, people.

Seriously. I know I’m overdoing this. But it’s a tree made of rolls of toilet paper. In the window of the jewelry store. On New York Street. And it has little flying single-ply leaves! Could they not spare more than a square?

A closer look:

I love autumn, when the toilet paper squares fall...

This is a thing that happened. I will seriously never get tired of thinking about this. Look how elaborate it is! I think why I’m so amazed by this is that someone didn’t put some product in a window – they went to all the trouble to rig this up. And to what end?? I picture a couple of cast members toiling all night, delicately hanging the little plys of toilet paper, making sure everything is just right… And all so there can be a toilet paper tree in the window of the jewelry store.

Does a bear... oh, never mind.

Look at the little rolled up squares on the forest floor!! Arranged in little rays emanating from the tree!! Why does this exist?

So there it is. The strangest thing I’ve ever seen at Walt Disney World. I’ve seen some weird things at WDW; Food Rocks, Liza Minelli, C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. But a tree made of rolls of toilet paper? That’s amazing.

"The world you have entered was created by the Walt Disney Company & is dedicated to Hollywood - not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream & wonder & imagine, a place where illusion & reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was - and always will be." - Disney-MGM Studios Dedication Plaque

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19 comments to Literally The Strangest Thing I’ve Ever Seen At Walt Disney World

  • Oh dear baby jeebus. I shall have to see if this is still up while I am down in the World this coming weekend…

  • HAHAHA I laughed so much at this. WHAT?!

  • BobMac

    At some point there was a meeting that took place. On the agenda was, “What to do with the fake store fronts on the NY back-lot”. Ideas were pitched and most certainly there several on the table. Someone came up with this idea and a higher-up thought it was a good move. I would have liked to have seen what was left on the table in that meeting.

  • At first glance this looked like a joke some custodian kids played. Someone who found access to a window display and who happened to have a supply of toilet paper. But is that a second stack of tp PRINTED on the background graphic? This would mean that this thing was planned, designed, printed, and installed. Hmm.

    Side note. I remember when Studios was new the false front thing was cool for about 5 minutes. Then everyone said, “ohh the entire street is made of false fronts??” Could they not have shown us the false-front-movie-magic using only a small portion of the street?

  • WC

    Thought of many easy quips and captions for these pictures. Then I thought about the seeming insanity of it and started digging for some answers:

    Angel Soft is made by Georgia Pacific. On GP’s website under company milestones has:

    2005 Announced a 10-year marketing alliance with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

    2008 Sweepstakes by Angel Soft TP and Sparkle paper towels:
    http://www.sweepstakeslovers.com/trips/angel-soft-sparkle-picture-perfect-vacation-sweepstakes/ One (1) Grand Prize: 5-day/4-night vacation for up to six (6) people (winner and up to 5 guests) to Walt Disney World® Resort near Orlando, Florida. Prize includes the following: Round-trip coach air transportation for up to six (6) between the major metropolitan city airport in the U.S. closest to winner’s residence and the Orlando International Airport; round-trip ground transfers for up to six (6) between the Orlando International Airport and the Walt Disney World® Resort via Disney’s Magical Express Service, one (1) 2-bedroom standard villa with a maximum of six (6) persons at a Walt Disney World® Resort hotel for four (4) nights, up to six (6) five-day Magic Your Way Tickets with Park Hopper® Option , one (1) Disney character dining experience for up to six (6) people, one (1) delivery of Cookies and Milk to winner’s hotel room at the Walt Disney World® Resort , one (1) Disney’s PhotoPass® CD, one (1) Disney Animation Attraction experience for up to six (6) people, $600 Disney Gift Card, and complimentary use of transportation within the Walt Disney World Resort. Approximate retail value (“ARV”) of Grand Prize: up to $8,302.00.

    2011 For free games on Disney.go.com: buy Angel Soft or Sparkle and use UPC code to get free games http://disney.go.com/features/gpgames/

    It’s still weird and hilarious and I agree with the above: would have loved to have sat in on THAT marketing meeting to hear how this idea was decided on. Or do you think GP left it up to Disney’s creative folks to come up with something “hip” (no pun intended).

  • Smaha

    I’m not sure if anyone can top this, but I sure would like to see people try. Maybe a contest – give folks a month to see if they can find something stranger.

    Sooooo bizarre.

  • philphoggs

    I gotta go.. there.

  • I remember when you shared this with us at our NC Disney meet last year. It is still unbelievable!

  • beaglelady

    Did Universal Orlando break in and install this?

  • Still laughing over the Tannhauser gate reference, but in between laughs, I’m crying because I never heard of the toilet paper tree. Disneyodendron Excremus, I believe is the Latin term. On the plus side, this might be the first tree made from recycled tree. If you cut it down, can you count the rings to tell how old it is?

  • Must be the work of the Blue Man Group.

  • beaglelady

    Marge, don’t you mean the Pooh Man Group?

  • mira

    The only time this neglected stage lot area gets used is at Christmas when it’s decorated with the Osborne lights. What a difference it is to see it full of people and the space actually has a real function. The lights do bring back memories of the downtown areas of older American cities during the 40s and 50s. It’s interesting that Disney is more interested in developing the “old California” part of the California Adventure, which will even have a streetcar running on it, than they are doing anything in Florida. It would be great if they would dedicate the same attention to the stage lot area at WDW. Usually, it’s a hot, sunny, empty waste of space.

  • Steve Mertz

    All of the ersatz Disney MGM Studios is a hot, sunny waste of space.

  • I can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of comment by an overly “PC” marketing member of the Disney organization about how many trees get chopped down to make something Americans wipe their backsides with…

  • Travis

    I was just down there for vacation and saw the display still up in the Streets of America, even with it being decked out in Christmas lights. Thought you all would like to know. :)

  • [...] Still. There. By Michael – December 17th, 2011 You might recall my recent post recounting the discovery of the strangest thing I’ve ever seen at Walt Disney World – [...]

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