“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This classic quote from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a great reminder of our responsibility to take care of the planet, not just on Earth Day, but all year round. What’s The Lorax got to do with theme parks? I’ll get to that, but first a quick refresher…
The Lorax is a story about a man, called the Once-ler, who comes upon a beautiful forest full of colorful truffula trees and amazing animals. He is interested in the characteristics of the truffula tree’s tufts, and cuts one down to sew the tuft into an all-in-one product he calls a thneed.
However, when he cuts the tree down, a small orange creature with a large yellow mustache appears and declares “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” He explains the importance of the trees and how they sustain the entire ecosystem. The Once-ler disregards the Lorax and continues chopping down trees to make and sell his thneeds.
As demand explodes, the Once-ler increases production exponentially, and the Lorax comes back to visit several times, showing him the damage being caused to the animals and environment, and begging him to stop, but the Once-ler refuses to listen until the very last truffula tree falls and he finally sees the error of his ways.
Years later, the Once-ler gives a young visitor the last truffula seed and encourages them to “Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air” in the hopes that one day truffula trees will once again flourish.
The Lorax, published in 1971, was years ahead of its time, especially for a children’s book. The very first Earth Day was held just a year previously in 1970, but it was not yet as widely celebrated as it is today. Protecting the environment was not a part of daily conversation.
Introducing the concepts of conservation and sustainability (and on the flip side, the evils of pollution) to children at a young age was important to help them grow up thinking about the impact they have on the earth.
The Lorax became a beloved classic and inspired a feature film in 2012. And while to many, theme parks may seem like the antithesis of conservation, there remains one gentle reminder of the Lorax’s message tucked into the Seuss Landing section of Universal Islands of Adventure.
You might be thinking, “I’ve been to Seuss Landing and never seen a Lorax attraction!” and in one sense you are right. You won’t find this Lorax-themed area on any Universal park maps because it does not include any rides or shows – it is simply a small walk-through exhibit.
But for fans of the book, it is a delightful hidden gem and a brilliant reminder of everything for which the Lorax stands (or rather, speaks). Located just in front of the Caro-Seuss-el, and directly across from Circus McGurkus, don’t blink or you might miss it!
Take a Stroll
Right out front of the walk-through area is a metal sculpture of the titular Lorax. Pause to snap a photo and reflect on his wisdom, then continue to the pathway entrance (the side closest to the One Fish, Two Fish ride).
Whether you are new to the story, or count the Lorax as an old and dear friend, you will be instantly transported into his world. Stroll along the winding path and you will see a street sign announcing “The Street of the Lifted Lorax”, the “UNLESS” message the Lorax leaves for the Once-ler in a cluster of rocks, hacked-off truffula tree stumps, and several bedraggled signs advertising the once-popular thneeds.
You’ll soon come upon the Once-ler’s house, where you can put your ear up to a listening station and hear part of the story read aloud. As you continue along the short path, you will enter a truffula tree forest, bursting to life in bright pastels, promising hope. Take a moment to soak it in, and maybe even become a truffula tree-hugger, like me!
Although the area is small, it’s impact is huge. Every trip I’ve taken to Islands of Adventure, I make sure to visit this little oasis, and I hope you will too. It is a truly adorable reminder of our role in keeping the planet healthy, and it provides a few minutes of calm and quiet during your hectic day at the park.
There are a few other Lorax-themed opportunities available in Seuss Landing. You will find some great Lorax souvenirs in the Cats, Hats, and Things gift shop. When selecting your items, be sure to check the tag – Lorax merchandise is often made from recycled materials, so you can get a nice memento and feel good about helping the earth!
Once, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Lorax character greeting. He was out near the entrance to the walk-through area and, even better, there was no line! I was so excited to be able to get a few photos with one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. Keep your eyes open for this opportunity, or ask a team member if the Lorax will be greeting guests on the day of your visit.
Speak for the Trees
After you have revisited the story and experienced this simple, yet charming walk-through area, take some time to reflect on its message and different ways you can “speak for the trees” this Earth Day. It is more important now than ever. And it is going to take plenty of people who care a whole awful lot to help protect our planet.
Have you visited the Lorax part of Universal’s Island of Adventure? Let us know in the comments.