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Liberty Square Odds & Ends

Since I recently wrote a feature article and a blog about the Hall of Presidents, I thought I'd write a companion piece about a few of the other, less noticed sights in the area. Let's start with the porch to the right of the Hall of Presidents. Here you'll find two rocking chairs. The setting, in and of itself, is picturesque, but to use these seats is even better.


Liberty Square Porch


If I may suggest, get a dessert from nearby Sleepy Hollow and enjoy it here. This is a wonderful spot to sit, relax, and people watch. Although it is possible to see the parades from here, I can't really recommend this porch as a prime viewing location. Too many guests will be between you and the floats and only the upper half of these moving show pieces will be visible.

Near the entrance to Hall of Presidents you can find a little girl's doll in the window. And to the left side and around the corner, take a look at the upper windows. Here you'll find two lanterns. Remember the old battle cry, “One if by land, two if by sea.” You can also find a Minute Man's rifle.


Child's Dool

Lanterns in a Window

Minute Man Rifle


Across the street from the Hall of Presidents is Disney's version of the Liberty Tree. The original Liberty Tree was located near Boston Common. On August 14, 1765, the Sons of Liberty gathered there to protest the Stamp Act. They concluded their protest by hanging two tax collectors in effigy from its branches.


Liberty Tree

In the years that followed, similar trees all across the colonies were designated “Liberty Trees.” As it was dangerous to assemble and protest during these trying times, the trees provided a meeting place that gave the appearance of a casual gathering beneath its branches.

The trees were often decorated with lanterns and banners. In addition, a pole would be erected within its branches as a signaling device. When a flag was raised (usually yellow), the Sons of Liberty knew it was time to meet. Disney's tree sports thirteen lanterns " one for each colony.


Lanterns


Disney's Liberty Tree is a Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) and was found growing on the southern edge of their Florida property. Determining that it would be perfect for the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers decided to dig it up and move it. However, this would be no small undertaking. It's estimated that the tree weighed more than 35 tons and its root-ball measured 18'x16'x4' around.

The tree could not be lifted by placing cables around its trunk. Its weight would cause the cables to slice through the bark and into the soft cambium layer. This would seriously damage or possibly kill the tree. Instead, two holes were drilled horizontally through the trunk. Metal rods were then inserted into these bores and cables attached to the ends. Lifted by a large crane, the tree was transferred to a flatbed truck for transportation to the park. Once at the Magic Kingdom, the cables were reattached and the crane lowered the tree into place. The rods were then removed and replaced with the original plugs.

Unfortunately, these plugs had become contaminated during the move and caused an infection to grow within the trunk and eat away a portion of its interior. To remedy the problem, the plugs were removed and the diseased sections of the tree were cleaned out. This time, the holes were filled with cement. In addition, a young Southern Live Oak was grafted to the base of the tree. At one time, you could see these scars, but the bushes have grown up around the tree and they are now hidden.

Disney produced a movie in 1957 titled Johnny Tremain. Based on Esther Forbes' book, the story tells of a lad who was badly injured as an apprentice silversmith then finds himself deeply involved in the American Revolution. In one scene of the movie we see Johnny and the Sons of Liberty hanging lanterns on the Liberty Tree. Some of the music used in this movie can be heard in the Liberty Square area. This film is available on DVD.


Johnny Tremain DVD


Next to the Liberty Tree is the Liberty Tree Tavern. If you look around the restaurant's perimeter, you can find some herbs growing and a kettle in which to cook a meal.


Herbs

Cooking Kettle


To the left of the Liberty Tree Tavern is a replica of the Liberty Bell. Cast from the same mold as the original, this bell was created for the Walt Disney World Resort in 1989.


Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell


Circling the bell are the flags of the original thirteen colonies. Near the base of each flagpole is a brass plate with the date that the state ratified the Constitution.


Flags of the Colonies

Brass Plate and Date


Also in the area is a sign with a lengthy history of the Liberty Bell -- so lengthy that I doubt that many of you have taken the time to read it while standing in the hot Florida sun.


Liberty Bell Sign


To help you out, I've copied it for you here. Enjoy.

*********************************************************************************************

The Liberty Bell

The Province Bell was the name first used to describe me. I was ordered from the English bell foundry of Whitechapel in 1751 by the Pennsylvania Assembly. I was to be part of the celebration which would commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn's Charter of Privileges signifying the founding of Pennsylvania.

Soon after being brought to America from England it was decided to test me for tonal quality. For this purpose I was hung in the notch of a tree and struck. With the first stroke of the clapper I sang out a glorious note. However, with the second strike I cracked and then gave off a terrible sound.

Two Philadelphia metal workers, Pass and Stow, melted me down, added more copper and recast me. I was now an American bell although everything about me was the same as the first bell, including the inscription “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof” and “By Order of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania for the State House in Pennsylvania.”

People now know me as the State House Bell. At first my only duty was to call the legislature to assemblies. However, as English rule became more and more intolerable I was used to summon people together to discuss and protest issues they considered unfair.

I was muffled as a symbol of protest and tolled slowly when the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765 were passed into law. I continued to toll for the First Continental Congress in 1774. The time I remember best was on July 8, 1776, when I summoned the citizenry for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. It was during this era of unrest that I became known as The Bell of Independence and The Bell of Revolution.

During the Revolutionary War I was wildly rung to signify each victory and muffled and tolled slowly to announce each defeat. The people could judge the success of the war effort just by the way I was rung. I became so important to the people that when Philadelphia was invaded by advancing British forces, I was taken to Allentown, Pennsylvania and hidden in the floorboards of a church so the British wouldn't find me. After a year in hiding, I was returned to the State House in Philadelphia. On September 3, 1783 I was rung joyously to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Paris which ended the war between Great Britain and the United States.

After eighty years of almost continual use, I was rung to mourn the death of Chief Justice Marshall on July 8, 1835 and cracked. In 1846, I was rung for the last time to commemorate George Washington's birthday. Although I can no longer be actually rung, I still occupy a special place in American history. The Herald of Freedom and the Liberty Bell are the names by which I am best known today; and perhaps these are the names which best describe me, for when the freedom and liberty of the United States hung in the balance, my voice was used to rally the people to the cause of liberty.

Cast from the same mold, this bell is a “Second generation” of the Original bell that hangs in Philadelphia. It was cast for Walt Disney World Resort in 1989.

The previous post in this blog was Swiss Family Treehouse.

The next post in this blog is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Comments (19)

David Santo:

Jack, another dazzling report!

Have you ever watched Spectromagic from the Sleepy Hallow snack shop area?

Are there any other areas in Liberty Square you would recommend to see the parade?

And have you ever seen those umbrellas they paint? What's that about?

Jack's Answer:

I have never watched a parade from Sleepy Hollow, but I do think there is a good spot in Liberty Square to watch these processions. Stand to the left of Hall of Presidents, looking down toward Frontierland. The parade makes a 90 degree turn right at this spot. This allows you to get head-on pictures as the floats come toward you then side shots as they turn toward The Hub.

The hand painted parasols are simply a personalized souvenir. Ladies can have their names painted on these old-time sun screens.

Phil Hatton:

Thanks for the history lesson. I have seen the sign many time, but I have not taken the time to stop and read it. The next time I will take the time, because there is nothing like being there in the Happiest Place on Earth.

Laura:

We've watched SpectroMagic from a rock wall located across from Liberty Tree Tavern. It's wide enough to stand on during the parade, and a good place to sit while waiting. It's close to the bathrooms in the walkway over to Adventureland. And, the best part is that it's just a short jaunt to Dole Whips at Aloha Isle. We stake out our spots and then send someone from our party to bring back treats while we wait! YUM!

Baines Family:

Hello! I was wondering if there was any significance in that each of the lanterns hung in the live oak was different? I know you stated they represented the 13 colonies but is there something in the way each lantern looks that is significant? Some had squares on them and others had triangles (depending on the black metal that was over the glass). Did say Williamsburg make one that looked significantly different then one from Boston? Or was that generally up to the craftsman?

Jack's Answer:


Sorry, but I don't have an answer for you. As we know, the Imagineers put a lot of thought into everything they design, but I've read nothing about the lanterns signifying a specific colony.

If someone else has more information on this, let me know.

Janet:

I have always SEEN the Liberty Bell and the Liberty Tree, as well as the buildings in Liberty Square, but I am amazed that after 15 visits, how much I have MISSED. I can't wait to go back in September when I can slow down and really enjoy this area of the park. Thanks Jack. This is great!!

Dana:

Awesome blog!
I have a question. Sometime, somewhere, I read that there is a marble slab from Monticello, guarded by a gate in Liberty Square. Is this just an urban legend, or is it really true? If it's true, where is this step? I've looked many times, but have never seen it!
Thank you--and keep up the great work!

Jack's Answer:

The story about the marble step being from Monticello is a Disney-urban legend. It simply is NOT true. Even the keepers of Monticello have stated that this isn't true. They would never allow any part of this historical landmark to be given away -- even to Disney.

So stop looking because you're on a wild goose chase.

Sue VanVleet:

Once again, thanks for a great blog! Since we took the Keys to the Kingdom tour a few years ago I knew a lot about Liberty Square, but had never noticed the cast iron kettles before! I'll look for them next visit. I did notice the doll when I was there on July 3rd. Keep telling about these overlooked gems! I learn something every time.

Mary Ann Cook:

Jack, Every time I read your posts I learn something new. I love this section of Disney and have never REALLY looked at these things. My Dad is a huge fan of all things patriotic and will absolutely love this post...and he doesn't read blogs. I can guarantee when we go to Disney in October, he will be spending hours looking for and at these things and will thoroughly enjoy telling us about "his" finds. Thanks again for making me think while I enjoy visiting Disney in your posts. Great job. Can't wait to see where you take us next.

Jennifer:

Hey! I love reading all the blogs on here, I have a question, has anyone ever seen a "ghost" in one of the upstairs windows in Liberty Square? When we were there last December, me and a friend certainly did! but I can't find nothing about it online.......

Jack's Answer:

To my knowledge, there are no Disney created ghosts on the upper floors of Liberty Square. However, the upper floors on Main Street and Liberty Square do contain offices and store rooms. It's very possible you saw a cast member or their shadow.

Jenny:

Jack, great work! I can't wait to look for all these hidden gems when we are at the world in november. Looking forward to your next blog!

The rocking chairs on the porch have always been one of my favorite places to sit an relax, but the bricks on the porch make it difficult to rock comfortably. Still a favorite spot though.

Your pictures are wonderful! You've inspired me to get my SLR cleaned before our next trip in December to get the best pictures possible. I've been so focused on the video side of things that I have lost sight of the beauty of a great photo.

Julie J. Wentzell:

Jack,

I loved your information. History is so important especially today. We need more of
this kind of work. I have been to Disney several times and I love the Hall of Presidents. I did not know about these hidden treasures. Thanks for all the great info.

Hey Jack,

Another very interesting blog "In The Can". Your attention to detail is only matched by Disney itself.

I really liked how the pictures of the lamps on the Liberty Tree rotate.

I took my son to the Presidents last week and we were very inspired. That part of the park is my favorite in Magic Kingdom.

Heidi Potenza:

Just wanted to send a BIG THANKS to Jack for his latest blog on Liberty Square! The photo of the two porch rocking chairs next to the Hall of Presidents happens to be our absolute FAVORITE place in the Magic Kingdom! When we brought our oldest son (now 11) for his first Disney visit at 11 months old, I sat rocking him as he napped and watched the world go by in my "happiest place on earth!" Fast forward 3 1/2 years later and his younger brother ends up there on HIS first visit to the MK, napping away in my arms. We visit this spot every year when we return for our annual Magic Kingdom "fix". I always say if I ever win the lottery, you will be able to find me sitting on that porch rocking in one of those chairs watching everyone enjoy the magic that this amazing place brings! Thanks Jack!

Dawn:

Thanks for the great blog . There used to be a silversmith shop named for Johnny Tremaine in Liberty Square, I think it became the Christmas shop.

Hunter:

Great blog! Another interesting fact: The building in which the two lanterns sit is a replica of the Capitol building in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Meg:

Swell post! My sister and I always sit in those rocking chairs and enjoy our funnel cakes from Sleepy Hollow and wonder why we never see anyone else using them. Glad to read we are not alone in appreciating the charm and Disney detail of Liberty Square!

Frank :

Do you know where I might obtain a picture of the stained glass windows that I believe were in the old silver shop in Liberty square?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 10, 2009 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Swiss Family Treehouse.

The next post in this blog is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

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