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Disneyland Article
Disneyland Keeps Options Open With Adventureland Treehouse Original Backstory
Orange County Register
Brady Macdonald
The new Adventureland Treehouse introduces an original storyline to Disneyland not tied to any film, and that provides Walt Disney Imagineering with the flexibility to someday tell any potential story in the 80-foot-tall man-made tree — from Encanto to Jungle Book to Pandora.

The Adventureland Treehouse inspired by Walt Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson returned last week to Disneyland after a two-year renovation by Imagineering.

Even though Swiss Family Robinson is in the name of the refreshed attraction, the nameless family of five is not the Robinsons marooned on an uninhabited island — but rather a creative bunch who just happen to like living in a treehouse in Adventureland.

Imagineering’s Kim Irvine talked about the creative challenges of coming up with a new theme for the attraction that debuted in 1962 as the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and became Tarzan’s Treehouse in 1999.

“We really want to keep that tree,” Irvine said during a media preview of the Adventureland Treehouse. “So what should we do with it?”

The Swiss Family Robinson and Tarzan stories fit well in the 80-foot-tall man-made tree — but were no longer as popular as they once were.

“We thought about the Swiss Family Robinson story, but thought maybe that wasn’t that relevant to people today,” Irvine said during a media preview. “So what if we are inspired by that whole story and it is about a family that built this amazing home together out of just their shared creativity and innovativeness. That made it a little bit of a different family. So we changed up their roles a little bit.”

The father is an inventor who does all the cooking. The mother is a music lover with a collection of magical instruments. The daughter loves the stars and has a great spot to watch the night sky. And the nature loving twin sons have a menagerie of exotic plants and jungle animals in their treetop room.

Imagineering finally settled on an original backstory unique to Disneyland — an increasing rarity where most attractions are based on a movie or have inspired a film or franchise.

“It’s fun because people can imagine, especially kids, that it could be their room,” Irvine said.

The blank slate also provided Imagineering with a bit more storytelling flexibility if another family should ever move into the Adventureland Treehouse.

There are plenty of Disney intellectual properties (IPs) that could work in the Adventureland Treehouse — from Encanto, Jungle Book and Pandora to even a return of Tarzan or Swiss Family Robinson.

“We talked about a lot of other IPs and such, but this just seemed to resonate,” Irvine said. “It also allowed us to create something that’s really different from Swiss Family and new and maybe have more things for more people.”

The new Adventureland Treehouse pays tribute to Tarzan, Swiss Family Robinson and Encanto stories with “Easter Egg” nods in the rooms lodged into the tree branches. The daughter’s room is brimming with visual references to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, a group of characters that pop up in the background stories of Disney attractions around the world.

Imagineering is always dreaming up ways to incorporate Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel stories and characters into existing or new theme park attractions and lands.

Imagineering is working with filmmaker James Cameron on a new Avatar experience coming to an as-yet-undisclosed location at the Disneyland resort. A new Swiss Family Robinson television show is in the works for the Disney+ streaming service that could someday serve as an inspiration for a future incarnation of the new Adventureland Treehouse.

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