The Cactus Patch
Volume 5       November 2002      Number 11

The Succulents of Disneyland
by Stephen Cooley

If you should happen to be going to Disneyland in the future, you might want to check out the wonderful succulents they have put here and there in the landscape. First, I should mention that the Disneyland I went to in October 2002 was not the Disneyland of my youth. The park (more correctly, the "resort") is very much different than it was just three years ago. Disneyland itself is pretty much the same. However, across from the entrance, where there used to be a parking lot, is a new park, Disney's California Adventure. Between these parks is a walking mall called Downtown Disney that takes you all the way to the old Disneyland Hotel complex (which also has had an upgrade). All of this new remodeling has been accompanied by typically well-done lavish Disney landscaping -- including numerous succulents interspersed throughout as well as in gardens dedicated entirely to desert-type plants.

In the original park, Disneyland, along with the dinosaur and Mickey Mouse shaped shrubberies you can find various succulents including Kalanchoe, Crassula, and Pachypodium. The Storyland boat ride (the one where you begin by going inside Monstro - the whale that swallowed Pinocchio's Father) has numerous small succulents, mainly Sedum, Crassula, and Echeveria, as part of the miniature garden scenes. The best place to look for succulents is in frontierland, especially around Thunder Mountain. Here you will find garden spaces devoted to desert plants. Large specimens of Agave, Ferocactus, Notocactus, Cereus, Euphorbia and Opuntia can be seen in the area along with the less succulent Yucca and Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens). Don't forget to look for the plastic Echinocactus grusonii while in "Its A Small World".

Disney's California Adventure is a new park and the landscape is not as mature. Along the hillsides near the "Baker's Field Bakery" many cacti can be seen - especially Opuntia. Agaves and Echinocactus are around as well.

The best Aloes are found near the Disneyland Hotel. Here, many large tree aloes can be seen (perhaps Aloe pillansii and Aloe bainsii and maybe some others as I soon became overwhelmed and confused as to which were which). Aloe arborescens is used quite extensively near the road. Among the tree aloes are young Dragon Trees (Dracaena draco), as well as many young Chorisia speciosa. Chorisia is the tree with the large spines on the trunk and big orchid-like flowers. When young they appear to be progressing towards a fat pachycaul trunk but I am sorry to say that they will loose this with age. A tree that has not lost it's fat base is a wonderful specimen of the Bottle Tree, Brachychiton. This tree used to be planted close to the main tower of the Disneyland Hotel and to my dismay it had been replaced with walkways and different landscaping. I 'discovered' it again down by the Koi pond, where this 15 foot tree had been successfully transplanted. It is mislabeled as Brachychiton populneus (a common landscape tree in Bakersfield that survives the frost but does not acquire such a conspicuous bottle-shaped base). My guess is that it is actually Brachychiton rupestris.

Downtown Disney, the newest addition to the resort, has several large beds devoted to succulents. These are located near the Monorail station. These new beds contain beautiful specimens of Kalanchoe beharansis (with big felt-covered leaves), Euphorbia milii, Aloe marlothii, Senecio (mandraliscae?) and Agave attenuata, along with many others I was not prepared to identify. Notably, a Pachypodium lamerii was in bloom here and a small Fouquieria columnaris, the Cirio (Boojum tree) of Baja, resides in one of the beds and should be a great sight when my great grandchildren go to see it.

All in all, Disney has some wonderful specimens of succulents throughout the resort. Be sure to visit and see them the next time your in Anaheim. And by the way, I understand there may be other things to do while you're there as well.

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