Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s the eighth wonder of the world, the backside of the water!! The Jungle Cruise, located both at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, is another one of those iconic rides that everyone must do while on vacation. The Jungle Cruise is an adventurous and thrilling boat ride through Asia, Africa, and South America and guests will never know what they will find in the jungle or what fun puns that will come out of the witty skipper’s mouths that pilot your boat! Fun fact: The ridiculously terrible puns, that make the attraction what it is, wasn’t originally apart of the ride, these were added a few years after it opened.
The Jungle Cruise first opened in Adventureland at Disneyland on July 17, 1955. The attraction was a highly anticipated attraction to open and is one of only a few Disney attraction not based off of a Disney animated film, instead, the ride was based on the film, “The African Film”. Walt Disney, along with Designer Harper Goff who worked on “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, originally intended for the attraction to include real-live animals after the success of Disney’s “True-Life Adventure Films”.
After consulting animal specialists, Disney quickly discovered his dream of involving real animals would not be possible. The specialists explained to him how the animals are not reliable due to their “wild nature” and sleep schedules, many animals would be asleep while guests are present! Disney quickly switched to plan B, Audio-Animatronics of course!
Disney wanted the cruise to still look realistic and called in Imagineer and Horticulturist Morgan “Bill” Evans to help the landscape. Evans wanted to create a “Hollywood Jungle” which would contain exotic plants, trees and more to create the atmosphere of dangerous, foreign and exciting lands. However, in order for this to occur, Adventureland had to be moved from the Eastside to the Westside of the park in order to use the large Eucalyptus trees to help aid the exotic plants to live and function in the “Hollywood Jungle”.
Along with the Audio-Animatronic animals and the amazing landscape, the scenery also adds a super-fun touch to the theming of the ride. As you board the boat don’t look down at the very deep jungle river water. I’m just kidding, the waters are shallow, less than four feet in most places, but appear to be deeper by adding a mucky, green dye. The green dye also helps conceal the tracks the boats are on throughout the ride.
The Jungle Cruise was such a huge hit after opening in Disneyland, Walt Disney World opened its own attraction on October 1, 1975. Throughout the ride, guests will find the front half an airplane crashed among the trees. The other half of the plane was previously found in the Casablanca Scene at Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ The Great Movie Ride, which is now closed. Fun Fact: One of the boats, Sankuru Sadie, actually sank at the Magic Kingdom Jungle Cruise in 2004! The boat still runs today.
Remember when we mentioned those very punny skippers that pilot your boat. There are a few famous skippers that you might know today, which include Kevin Costner and Ron Ziegler (Richard Nixon’s press secretary).
If you enjoy the Jungle Cruise, you might also enjoy the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen restaurant that is modeled after the attraction.
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