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Jungle Cruise-8 Ways Disney Set the Stage for this Attraction

By Cassie

The attraction takes you on a somewhat corny journey through Southeast Asian jungles, the Nile Valley and the rain forest along the Amazon. Animals along the way include hippopotamus, elephants, snakes, crocodile, and rhinos. Watch out for the headhunter! All in all, it is a fun 10-minute adventure.

Authentic plants: The Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland is set amongst the lushest landscaping of the park. It is said that Imagineer Bill Evans probably had imported more exotic plants to the US than anyone else at the time. He had to carefully select from plants growing in the local of the rivers featured on the Jungle Cruise, which would also transplant into central Florida’s climate.

Are puns fun, in any language? While navigating the rivers of the World (representing the Amazon, Nile, Congo, Mekong rivers), your boat Skipper controls the boat and tells corny jokes and numerous puns along the way. They are not supposed to go off-script, so I listen close to hear what the pilot may say in response to the passengers. That off-script stuff is what makes it fun for me. It is difficult to do this spiel all day if no one plays along, so I usually do. Sometimes there will be an entire boatload of guests who do not speak English making it all the harder to give the guests a funny experience and keep the Skipper from feeling useless. They may not understand the puns, but the sight gags are the same in any language. When creating the spiel for Hong Kong Disneyland, the script stayed basically the same, with some puns changed that did not make sense in a language so different from English. The joke about the mother-in-law remains and gets laughs/groans just as it does in the U.S.

More Marc Davis Magic: Disney Imagineers tried to picture what would be a real adventure to the guests when creating Adventureland and the Jungle Cruise in particular. This was one of the first attractions not based on a Disney film. Can we ever say enough about Imagineer Marc Davis? He was a very close friend of Walt’s and was with him most of his adult life. Marc Davis did the concept art for Jungle Cruise. He had perfected the sight “gag” in Disney films and designed the funny sights we see on this cruise. Passengers have a limited time to see and “get” the gag since they are constantly on the move and Marc Davis did a phenomenal job telling the “story” of the Jungle Cruise humorously. Even those spitting and steaming Tiki gods display out front of the attraction were created by Marc Davis. One scene, with the gorillas, was actually an updated scene following the release of Tarzan

You have seen the half of it, the half Imagineers want you to see. There is the back half of a downed plane in the jungle has its front end found in The Great Movie Ride, in the Casablanca scene. The rivers are dyed brown so that you cannot see the water is 3 ½-feet deep and the structures for the robotic animals that are below the water level.

Walt wanted to make it real: Walt Disney originally wanted real animals incorporated in the attraction. Walt enjoyed making his True Life Adventure series and wanted park guests to be able to experience nature up close as he had done. After consulting with animal specialists he realized that the exotic animals he wanted were not guaranteed to give the same “performance” for each boat load of guests, but were more likely to sleep or try to hide. (We are thankful for the new techniques that allow us to see the exotic animals in Animal Kingdom today!) None of the animals or figures you see on the Cruise are Audio-Animatronics because they could not withstand the weather elements. These are more simplistic machines and use a combination of pneumatics and air pressure.

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When the ride was first open it was supposed to be a serious attempt to expose Americans to exotic places and animals of South America, Cambodia, Egypt and Africa, through the eyes of a man from Marceline who had never been there, just like most Americans in the United States. It soon changed to be a humorous voyage poking fun at the attraction itself. Every ride on this is unique based on the Skipper you get. The scripts don’t change much but a lot of this is adlib of learned jokes. The art is in timing them and responding to that particular group in the boat. I believe Walt would change this script and perhaps the ride itself as he did not like overhearing a mother one day in Disneyland telling her son that they had already ridden that attraction the last time so they did not have to ride it again. That spurred him to make some ongoing changes to keep guests interested in coming back. It would be good to make some changes to Jungle Cruise. I realize some guests really love hearing the same scripts and having the same experience every time, what do you think? Should this attraction get a big makeover? It is a good place to take a load off your feet. Keep in mind it is an outside water ride, so if there is lightning in the area it will go down. If it is raining you will get wet. The canopy does not cover the entire seating area so some get wetter than others.

I was looking at the map of Walt Disney World, and found this interesting correlation between the Disney Deluxe Resorts near Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian Village resort is right across Bay Lake from Adventureland (Contemporary resort is across from Tomorrowland, Grand Floridian is across from Main Street U.S.A., Fort Wilderness Resort is on the opposite side of Bay Lake from Frontierland). Do you think there will someday be a Fantasyland themed resort?

Attraction details:

  • 1955-debut of attraction at Disneyland
  • 1971-opening of attraction at Walt Disney World
  • The islands you circle are called Manhattan, and Catalina
  • 1998-Jungle Cruise redesigned, boats are changed to an older well-used look.
  • The canopy covered boats are 27-feet long
  • The boats are on a track but the speed is regulated by the Skipper
  • Boat design was designed after boat in the film The African Queen

 

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.