One’s initial reaction to plants disappearing from a park is oft, understandably, negative. Short of the eradication of unsightly weeds, we rarely applaud such things. Disney has an exceptional track record when it comes to horticulture and conservation, so when an entire network of planters disappears from Disneyland, there’s likely sound reasoning behind it. The recent departure of several massive, formerly plant-bearing structures from Tomorrowland’s main thoroughfare is a decision at which we needn’t impulsively shake a stick.
Except, when something short of a weed is removed from a Disney park, it’s sure to have a history. The compulsory pro/con debate ensues. And, these were more than mere planters. The familiar bench-bearing structures stretched from the Tomorrowland entrance down to the former home of the Disneyland PeopleMover. Through low-traffic spans, they were less-notably bulky, and even understated. Shaped like a rounded-diamond Goodyear Tires sign, they were an homage to the PeopleMover’s original sponsor. They had been in place since that beloved attraction’s inception on July 2, 1967.
That’s the difficult bit. These planter benches had been a Disneyland fixture longer than most guests have been alive. Even if unconsciously, they were a feature of every single Disney visit, and their absence will be felt. Such things always are.
Yet, the refurbishment will be felt in another significant way—that for which it is intended. In this area, at least, it will be notably easier to move about. The walkway between Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is one of civilization’s more arduous pinch points. Even on relatively sparsely crowded days, making that right turn off Main Street was often tantamount to stepping on flypaper.
Issues arise mostly from the sheer volume of guests drawn to the area. Then there was the dubious motivation to slap the Astro Orbiter attraction right in front of your most popular land. The planters themselves are hardly to blame. Though as crowd levels increased, and guests got to filling the benches, the area began to resemble a local impassible highway. Throw in the traditional stroller bivouac, and you don’t so much walk into Tomorrowland as plod through confounding quicksand.
So, yes, the Goodyear-shaped planter benches literally represented living Disney history. If you are moved to cancel your Annual Pass over such developments, that’s your right. Your absence may well add to the ease of movement. But, as desperate Disney Cast Members were powerless to convince guests of the wisdom of favoring the right side of the walkway, the restless souls in charge of refurbishment have taken matters into their own hands.
We’re as much to blame as anyone or anything else. May the benefits outweigh the costs. Being able to get to Space Mountain before one’s FastPass expires should help.