It’s Tough to be a Bug is a 3-D show based on the 1998 Pixar film A Bug’s Life. Located in the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the attraction is one of the most unique settings of any on property. As guest enter the queue for the attraction, they slowly make their way toward the tree weaving and winding between the roots and base of the 145-foot tree.
The Tree of Life, which is the icon of the park, is one the most beautiful and impressive things Imagineers have built in Disney parks. The tree itself is artificial, and to build a strong base to withstand hurricane winds, Imagineers used an oilrig as the heart of the tree. As the oilrig slowly turned into a tree, Imagineers finally got to the point where they could carve the exterior of the tree. To me, this is the highlight of the icon. Artists carved into the trunk and roots of the tree creating over 300 animal that are beautifully detailed. Animals carved into the tree include lion, deer, eagle, monkey, pelican, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, bear, tortoise, lemur, scorpion, and dolphin. At the end of construction, the tree’s base is 50 feet wide, the branches span 165 feet, and there are over 100,000 artificial leaves that are each one-foot long.
One of the most exciting parts of going to It’s Tough to be a Bug is walking through the queue and into the tree itself. Surrounding the roots and base of the tree is a lush tropical-like forest with pools and creeks flowing all around you. As you near the tree, you really start to see the details close up and all the amazing animal carvings that have been created. Another amazing feat about this attraction is that the theater itself is inside the Tree of Life, which really gives evidence to how immense in size the tree actually is.
Once you have wondered through the queue, you enter the tree and the preshow area. Posters start to pop up all around you giving hints of the acts the various bugs that will be performing in the upcoming show. Sneak-peak posters include Beauty and the Bees, Web Side Story, Little Shop of Hoppers and My Fair Ladybug. Before heading into the theater for the 8-minute show, make sure to pick up your 3-D glasses, which are called bug eyes!
Flick, the star from Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, is the host of the show that the bug world is about to perform for us, “honorary bugs”. The show starts with an animatronic Flick popping out of the ceiling as fireflies shine their luminescent “spotlights” onto him as he introduces the show. Once the introduction has begun, the performers of the show take stage including Chili the Mexican redknee tarantula, a pair of acorn weevils, a termite named the “Terminator” and a stinkbug named Claire de Room. After Claire de Room takes stage and releases a powerful stench on the honorary bugs, a loud explosion is heard and Hopper, the villain of A Bug’s Life, appears.
The Hopper animatronic is truly one of the most amazing in all of the Disney Parks and is another of the highlights of this attraction. It is one of the most sophisticated animatronics ever built with 72 functions or movement centers and is rumored to be worth 1.5 million dollars. As Hopper appears, he is visibly mad and yells at Flick for inviting humans into the bug world due to the fact that humans have been set on killing bugs for thousands of years. In turn, Hopper sets out to destroy us humans by releasing hornets and black window spiders onto the audience. Before more mayhem can occur, a chameleon shows up to eat Hopper and Hopper retreats off stage.
Once us honorary bugs are safe from Hoppers tyranny, Flick appears again to set in motion the grand finally. Bees, dung beetles, dragonflies and ladybugs all appear singing about how insects can help humans and how “it’s tough to be a bug.” After this finally, the show comes to a conclusion, but the announcer can be heard saying that all members of the audience should remain seated, so that the beetles, maggots and cockroaches can leave safely. Right on cue, you can feel the bugs crawling under your seat as they scramble for the exit. Although the show is over, exiting the theater offers another great up close view of the Tree of Life and the opportunity to take some of the best photos in the park!
- When chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall visited the park during the construction of the Tree of Life, she asked if there was a chimp on the tree. The answer was no, so her most famous subject, David Greybeard was carved and can be found near the entrance of It’s Tough to Be a Bug.
- Although the Tree of Life is man made, there are over four million living plants in the park.
- Construction of the tree was so complex that it took 18 months to complete.
Alex Larson is recent graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a huge fan of everything Disney. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, he has loved Disney since he was born. Making annual trips to Walt Disney World since the age of three, the parks have become a very special place to him. His love for the parks is due to the memories he has had, attractions, the endless things to explore, the food and the sense of happiness every Disney fan feels while there.