Three Terrifying Plant Environments at Walt Disney World

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There is much to love at Walt Disney World, but some people have concerns about aspects of the rides and attractions that cause them anxiety or fearfulness. Common fears induced by some park elements include fear of heights (Soarin’, Skyliner), fear of darkness (Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion), and fear of falling (Tower of Terror). But there is a less common fear that may give visitors pause: botanophobia – the fear of plants.

Plants are obviously everywhere at Disney World. Floral arrangements decorate the hotel lobbies, palm trees line every walkway, and rose bushes are displayed at the Flower & Garden Festival. If you have a problem with naturally occurring flora, then a largely outdoor destination in Florida is not the place you want to plan a vacation.

There are, however, a few surprise plant items in the parks that are so over-the-top that they might trigger anyone with a fear of plants.

Pandora Plants in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Maybe I’ve seen Little Shop of Horrors one too many times, but even though I am not botanophobic, I am still 100% convinced that the majority of the Disney-engineered “plants” in Pandora want to eat me alive. Their almost, but not quite, realness puts this faux vegetation in the realm of the uncanny. The colors and shapes riff on, but do not attain, kinship with nature. Everything is too big, or too blue, or just too much of a muchness not to be at least a little unsettling.

The protrusions from the point and the red spot like a gaping wound give this plant decidedly animalistic characteristics.
Note the thorny teeth running the diagonal and the pustules rimming the central mouth.
Nothing in nature has quite this combination of color, size, and shape.

Singing Plants at Magic Kingdom’s Enchanted Tiki Room

The Enchanted Tiki Room is meant to be comical take on a lounge act, but the cave-like setting, a darkened room with plant facsimiles dripping from the ceiling and all the walls, can be claustrophobic and unnerving even if you don’t have a plant-based bĂȘte noir. Then the plants start SINGING, which would be fine-ish, but the old-timey animatronics make a snapping sound with every movement of the floral faces, tiny audible bites of the air. It’s just a small step to imagining that those tiny bites are of you.

The plantings surrounding you in the dark are troubling enough.
But then they start singing. With little mouths making snapping sounds with every syllable.

Living with the Land Plants at Epcot

If you have botanophobia, a ride dedicated primarily to the ecology of plants is likely a must-avoid location. But should a plant-averse person make it onto this attraction, some of the species represented might provide particular consternation. Living with the Land features plants shown in non-standard sizes, non-standard growing situations, and plants with possibly foreboding names and shapes.

Carolina Reaper
Larger than life lemon.
A common plant presented in an uncommon way may provoke cognitive dissonance.

Honorable mention: The Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

From a distance, absent its size, the Tree of Life offers nothing more foreboding than any other tree. But the animal carvings on the tree could push it into the realm of disturbing.

OK from afar?
More concerning up close.

Honorable mention #2: Topiaries

Most folks find the ubiquitous Disney World topiaries to be charming fun, but for those who don’t like plants, characters rendered in greenery could be more than a little off-putting.

 

Do you or someone you know have this particular phobia? What other unusual phobias do you have that you’d like to see covered on the blog?

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

2 thoughts on “Three Terrifying Plant Environments at Walt Disney World

  • March 15, 2021 at 9:47 am
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    This is so funny and I feel so seen. I’ve had this fear since childhood and Little Shop definitely helped kick it off along with Super Mario Bros piranha plants. It is a tough one to explain to people who have fears of things that have actually hurt humans. It’s not a rational fear just a chill up the spine type of unsettling thing.

    Oddly enough I have never noticed that horrifying thing in Pandora (will now) nor really the singing plants in the Tiki room which I’ve only visited once. I do however have a lot of deep breathing moments each time I ride Living with the Land but I am a brave grown adult man! Most of the time.

    Reply
    • March 15, 2021 at 11:05 am
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      Ha! Sorry to exacerbate your issues.

      I’m not particularly plant phobic in general, but the flora in Pandora makes me uneasy if I think too much about it. Right before the pandemic I was lucky enough to see the off-Broadway Little Shop with Jonathan Groff. An amazing production! But it did serve to reawaken my own mild plant trepidation.

      My real odd phobia that no one else gets is tropical fish. The non-angular shapes and protrusions of ocean life sometimes overwhelm me so much that I have to make a mad dash out of the Living Seas pavilion. Sigh.

      Reply

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