The Walt Disney World Resort features some of the most incredibly themed experiences for Guests to enjoy where they feel completely surrounded by the story and far away from Central Florida. The Imagineers work tirelessly to infuse as much detail and theming as possible in every single area of the Disney Parks, resulting in some incredible areas that Guests can enjoy on every vacation.
Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom evokes the patriotism of colonial times and is home to popular experiences like the Haunted Mansion, Columbia Harbour House, the Hall of Presidents, and Sleepy Hollow. While many Guests pass through the themed area every day, they often overlook some amazing details that have historical significance and help to enhance the theming.
Liberty Square runs along the Rivers of America and connects Frontierland with Fantasyland, with a pathway that also cuts across to Main Street, U.S.A. by the hub of Cinderella Castle. Guests who enter the land near the Haunted Mansion can enjoy a subtle change that happens as they travel closer and closer to Frontierland.
As Guests walk along the pathway, they should pay attention to the numbering on each building, beginning at the Haunted Mansion and progressing down towards the experiences in Frontierland. Each building features a number that corresponds to the year that architectural style was popular. Guests are literally moving through time from the Haunted Mansion which represents the Dutch Gothic architecture found in the Hudson Valley in New York in the 1700s, to Georgian colonial-style architecture of Philadelphia in the late 1700s by The Hall of Presidents, to rustic and rougher Western-style architecture of the West from the 1800s.
The Haunted Mansion is a beloved attraction filled with incredible detail, theming, and characters that could fill several posts by themselves, but let’s check out some small details to note that help to add depth to the experience in Liberty Square. The graveyard found outside of the attraction is well-known to many Guests as it features fun interactive elements, but many don’t realize that the clever epitaphs on the tombstones pay homage to Imagineers who were directly involved with the attraction’s creation.
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Master Gracey is, of course, one of the most recognizable names associated with the Haunted Mansion and even has his own tombstone centrally located in the graveyard. He was named in tribute to Yale Gracey who was responsible for many of the special effects enjoyed throughout the attraction. Other Imagineers referenced to include artist Leota Toombs (Madame Leota), songwriter X. Atencio (Franies Xavier), animator Marc Davis (Grandpa Marc), and show designer Claude Coats (Brother Claude).
After enjoying the Haunted Mansion, Guests can check out Memento Mori in Liberty Square, where unique merchandise featuring characters and designs from the attraction are sold. Translating to “remember you must die” in Latin, Memento Mori continues the eerie theme and features a large portrait of Madame Leota from when she was living. Guests who have lucky timing can even experience a special black light effect on her portrait that adds an extra layer of mystery to her story.
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As Guests move closer towards The Hall of Presidents, the spirit of patriotism and colonialism is increased as they move through time to Philadelphia in the era of the American Revolution. The Hall of Presidents itself is modeled after a combination of Federal-style buildings from Philadelphia, and the number 1787 above the main entrance references the year that the United States Constitution was ratified.
The lobby of The Hall of Presidents features a wonderful exhibit of actual clothing and items owned by some of the former Presidents of the United States, as well as a unique design that can only be found elsewhere in the White House. The Presidential Seal can be found in beautiful detail on the carpet and is sanctioned off with rope so that no Guest walks over it. This wonderful illustration and symbol of the presidency can only be found elsewhere on the carpet in the Oval Office.
Several other incredible details throughout the courtyard near The Hall of Presidents reference important moments in history from the American Revolution, including a small window on the second floor of a rounded portion of the attraction’s building. Guests who look closely will notice two lanterns glowing, which references Paul Revere’s famous warning of the British coming “one if by land, two if by sea.”
While looking up, Guests should also check out other windows in the area, paying specific attention to their shutters, which look slightly askew. This is a very subtle detail that references how shutters at the time were attached with leather, since all metal was being melted for ammunition in the Revolutionary War and in short supply. The leather functionally worked, but it would stretch over time so that the shutters would ultimately look slightly crooked.
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Across the way near the Liberty Tree Tavern, Guests can spot a duo of beautiful details that have great historical significance. The replica of the Liberty Bell in Liberty Square was cast from the same mold as the original, which can be seen on display in Philadelphia, and a small sign shares historical details and information. Also found nearby is the Liberty Tree which features thirteen lanterns hanging to represent the original thirteen colonies and is a live oak that was relocated during the construction of the Walt Disney World Resort and eventually grafted with another tree when it became diseased.
The final stop on this brief detailed tour of Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom brings us to Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe where Guests can find a rich story of three separate businesses. The interior of the store is subtly broken into three different areas of a music shop, a woodcarver’s shop, and the home of a Pennsylvania German family. Each area features props and items that reference the business that exists there and Guests who look closely can even spot a sign stating that the family’s name is Kepple, which was actually the first name of Walt Disney’s grandfather.
Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom is an absolutely beautiful location where Guests can tap into the patriotic spirit of the United States while literally moving through history. With wonderful details that are so subtle, they might be missed if one isn’t looking, it’s definitely recommended to slow down and soak in as much of the wonderful theming as possible on any visit to the Magic Kingdom!