The Swiss Family Treehouse opened November 18, 1962, in Adventureland at Disneyland, two years after the Disney film Swiss Family Robinson (1960). Imagineer Bill Martin worked out the treehouse's design;he was one of the original team gathered to create Disneyland, and the art director of Fantasyland. Disney animator Wolfgang Reitherman, who designed the treehouse for the movie, contributed. At 70 feet tall and 80 feet wide, constructed of concrete and reinforced steel, the attraction weighed 150 tons.John Mills, who played Father Robinson in the movie, and his daughter Hayley appeared at the attraction's opening. The attraction was a walk-through rather than a ride, in which visitors walked up steps in the trunk of the tree through various "rooms" designed on the theme of the movie, with items and structures made to appear salvaged from a 19th-century shipwreck and desert island finds. When it opened, the attraction required a C ticket. The attraction originally opened with reddish-brown leaves. However, the red leaves faded very easily in the sun and were eventually switched to green leaves sometime during the early 1960s.
In March 1999, the original attraction at Disneyland was closed. Refurbished and remodeled on a new theme, it reopened in June the same year as Tarzan's Treehouse.
When the Magic Kingdom opened at Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1971, the Swiss Family Treehouse was one of the original attractions of Adventureland. The tree, while intended to look real, is actually made up of steel, concrete, and stucco, stretching 60 feet tall and 90 feet wide.
Similarly, when Euro Disneyland (now Disneyland Park) opened on April 12, 1992, it featured a version of the attraction located in Adventureland, named La Cabane des Robinson. It is integrated as part of the Adventure Isle area.
Tokyo Disneyland also has a Swiss Family Treehouse which opened in 1993, ten years after the park's debut. It serves as the centerpiece of Coral Landing, a shipwreck town subarea inspired by Typhoon Lagoon.
Disney has given the artificial tree species that houses the treehouse a scientific name, Disneyodendron semperflorens grandis. This means "large, always blooming Disney tree". The Magic Kingdom's Treehouse tree is known as Disneyodendron eximus or "Out of the Ordinary Disney tree".
Tales from Adventureland: The Golden Paw references the Treehouse when the heroes stumble upon an empty treehouse base of the evil Collective. However, this tree's scientific name is given as Yesniddendron semperflorens grandis to mask the obvious Disney connection of the original name.