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Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise.jpg

Opened

October 1, 1971

Land

Adventureland

Maximum speed

2.18 mph (3.5 km/h)

The Jungle Cruise is an attraction located in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom. The attraction simulates a riverboat cruise down several major rivers of Asia, Africa and South America. Park guests board replica tramp steamers and are taken on a voyage past many different Audio-Animatronic jungle animals. The tour is led by a live Disney Cast Member delivering a humorous scripted narration.

Inspiration & Design

Sources of inspiration for the attraction include a 1955 True-Life Adventure about a pride of lions, and the movie The African Queen. Imagineer Harper Goff referenced The African Queen frequently in his ideas; even his designs of the ride vehicles were modeled after the steamer used in the film.

When plans began to develop, Bill Evans, the Imagineer responsible for landscaping Disneyland and most of Walt Disney World, faced the daunting task of foresting an entire jungle on a limited budget. Aside from importing many actual tropical plants, he made wide use of "character plants" which, while not necessarily exotic, could give the appearance of exoticism in context. In a particularly well-known trick, he uprooted local orange trees and "replanted" them upside-down, growing vines on the exposed roots. The clean water was dyed brown to prevent visitors from seeing the bottom of the “river,” which varies between three and eight feet deep.

Although Goff and Evans can be credited with the creation and initial design of the ride, Marc Davis, recognized for his work on venerable attractions such as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, added his own style to the ride in later versions and Disneyland updates. The "Indian Elephant Bathing Pool" and "Rhinoceros Chasing Explorers up a Pole" were among his contributions.

In a popular story recounted by Jeff Lange, a writer for weblogging site Jim Hill Media, an experience at the Jungle Cruise helped bolster Walt Disney's obsession with the concept of "plussing," or continuous improvement. The story claims that Walt overheard a mother visiting Disneyland telling her child that since they had been on the ride the last time they visited the park, they didn't need to ride it again. In horror, he put his Imagineers to work designing upgrades to the ride. Many similar variations of this story exist.

Attraction Description

The Walt Disney World Jungle Cruise is set as a depression era British outpost on the Amazon river, operated by the fictional company, The Jungle Navigation Co., whose advertisement poster is painted on the wall near the exit of the attraction. Albert Awol's broadcast is different than that of Disneyland's, being ride specific. Also unlike Disneyland, the queue no longer extends to a second level. The skippers at the Magic Kingdom no longer carry revolvers loaded with blanks. These real guns have been replaced with realistic props that skippers wave to scare away animals that get in the way, and to prevent the hippos from attacking the boat.

The queue of the Jungle Cruise is heavily themed with period artifacts, tools, gear, photos and more. It is intended to resemble an outpost where an exploration of the jungle rivers may be booked. It is divided into four main sections which may be opened or closed in sequence to accommodate crowd fluctuation. The queue was designed to wind about heavily so that guests may see all of the different artifacts in the queue. The most notable section of the queue is the office of Albert Awol.

On the ride, the skipper introduces himself or herself, and begins to take the boat full of guests down the tropical rivers of the world. The ride starts out in the Amazon River, where the passengers encounter butterflies with one-foot wingspans, or as the skipper might say, twelve inches. The boat then passes Inspiration Falls, which transitions into the Congo River in Africa.

The skipper explains that there is a Pygmy welcoming party waiting for them, but when the boat arrives at the beach, the canoes are empty, and the place deserted. The skipper wonders what scared off the Pygmies, and they soon discover that it was a giant python. The boat then passes a camp that has been raided by gorillas, which transitions the cruise into the Nile River.

After encountering two elephants, the boat passes along the African Veldt, where numerous African animals watch a pride of lions eat their kill. The boat then passes a lost safari group that has been chased up a pole by an angry rhinoceros and are now trapped. The group then passes by another waterfall, Schweitzer Falls, and encounters a pool of hippos. They are about to charge the boat until the skipper scares them off. Ominous drums are heard as the group enters headhunter territory. Near the Hippo Pool, a piece of a downed airplane can be seen along the shoreline. This is the back half of the Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior found at The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Casablanca scene. Natives are seen dancing near the boat and guests soon find themselves in an ambush. They escape and proceed into the Mekong River.

They enter a temple which has been destroyed by an earthquake. Inside, baboons, cobras, and a tiger can be found. After they exit, they come across an elephant bathing pool where numerous elephants are relaxing in the water. The boat narrowly avoids being sprayed by water from one of the elephants. The cruise concludes after passing Trader Sam, the head salesman of the jungle, who offers two shrunken heads for one of the passengers.

Each variety of plant throughout the attraction was carefully selected by landscape architect Bill Evans to ensure that the foliage would be able to endure Florida's unique climate: hot summers and relatively cool winters. The most difficult aspect of this was making sure these plants had the appropriate look and feel of traditional tropical plants in the equatorial jungle.

Boats

There are 15 vehicles, with a maximum of 10 in operation at any given time.

Current Boats

  • Amazon Annie
  • Bomokandi Bertha (wheelchair lift equipped)
  • Congo Connie
  • Ganges Gertie
  • Irrawaddy Irma
  • Mongala Millie
  • Nile Nellie
  • Orinoco Ida
  • Rutshuru Ruby
  • Sankuru Sadie (the only boat to have ever sunk)
  • Senegal Sal
  • Ucyali Lolly
  • Volta Val
  • Wamba Wanda (wheelchair lift equipped)
  • Zambesi Zelda

Retired Boats

  • Kwango Kate (retired in 2000)

Albert Awol

Albert Awol is a fictional Jungle Cruise boat captain and disc jockey for the Disney Broadcasting Company. Considered the "Voice of the Jungle", he broadcasts everything from news, to quizzes, reminders, weather, etc. on the DBC (Disney Broadcast Company). He also serves as a period disc jockey for the station, filling the airwaves with music from the 1930s depression era.

Albert Awol was added in 1991 to the Jungle Cruise during a refurbishment:

"Standing in the Jungle Cruise queue was a somber affair prior to the aforementioned 1991 rehab; once guests crossed the threshold they were faced with a series of twists and turns that led past bare walls, their fellow guests and occasional glimpses of the river. There was no background music at that time either, so if the queue was full it promised a fair amount of shuffling drudgery. Of course DL's Jungle Cruise queue is now closer to the full embodiment of how cool a ride's waiting space can be, but Florida's 1991 upgrade did include queue music interspersed with radio commentary by Albert AWOL, 'the voice of the jungle.' A considerable array of visual enhancements were also made at that same time, from a series of new destination-based wall murals to the artifact-laden 'office' in the center of the queue.

Albert's broadcast is projected not just over the Jungle Cruise queuing area, but over Adventureland as a whole, setting the time period.

Pop Culture References

  • There was a tribute to the ride in 2005 on an episode of the podcast The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, as well as a Strong Bad E-mail entitled "theme park."
  • In the sing along songs video Disneyland Fun during "Following the Leader", Jungle Cruise made an appearance.
  • Jungle Cruise was parodied as Timon and Pumbaa's Virtual Safari on The Lion King Special Edition.
  • A stand up comedy show featuring only Jungle Cruise Skippers, called The Skipper Stand Up Show, has been doing shows in Fullerton, California since May 2006.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic wrote and recorded a song titled "Skipper Dan" about a failed actor who ended up as a guide on a Jungle Cruise-type ride. The song is included on his 2009 digital Internet Leaks EP and his 2011 album, Alpocalypse.
  • In the Martha Speaks episode, "What's Bothering Bob?", the scene when Bob chases Truman and his friends up a tree is similar to the Lost Safari.
  • Disney's "Fab Five" characters, cruise boat and the "River Expedition Company" boathouse were incorporated into an original painting and limited edition print offering by artist Randy Souders entitled "Jungle Cruise" created for the 1999 Official Disneyana Convention at Disneyland.

Sources & External Links

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