Ever wanted to take a cruise on some of the worlds most famous and dangerous rivers? Then the Jungle Cruise might be for you. It is a ten minute expedition through four exotic rivers. There are plenty of dangerous animals and a few dangerous humans. Fortunately both the animals and the humans are the audio-animatronic variety.
The Jungle Cruise opened on October 1st, 1971, the same day the Magic Kingdom opened to the world. It was based on the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland and the two are similar but not identical.
The Disneyland ride was inspired by the Walt Disney produced True Life Adventures and the movie The African Queen. Originally Walt had wanted to use live animals. That idea was scrapped when he realized the animals would not stay where he wanted them to be.
The Disneyland original also lacked the humor of both the current Magic Kingdom and Disneyland attractions. The Jungle Cruise was meant to be a realistic look at the jungles of the world. In 1962 the comedy was added to the spiel at Disneyland. When the ride opened in 1971 at the Magic Kingdom it mimicked the comedic Disneyland spiel.
This ride is set in the 1930’s at a British river outpost. The outpost is operated by the fictional Jungle Navigation Co. As guests enter the queue they can hear broadcasts by Albert Awol.
Guests are invited to take a cruise with the Jungle Navigation Co. The trip is made in one of fifteen boats (only a maximum of ten are in operation at any given time.)
The Jungle Cruise
Guests enter the Jungle Navigation Co outpost. The queue is filled with items that would be present in a typical outpost of the era. Some, however, have a humorous touch like the chalk board listing missing persons with names like Ilene Dover. The queue winds around a lot so sometimes the wait time can be deceptively long. The queue is covered but outside which means in the summer it can be a very hot wait.
Once the wait is over guests board tramp steamers for the actual cruise. The cruise features four rivers on four continents. While there is some great scenery and impressive animatronics it is the skipper (a real person) or your boat who can really make or break the trip. The skippers tell corny jokes throughout the ride and his or her enthusiasm (or lack thereof) really makes the difference.
The first river is the Amazon and is a very short section of the ride.
Next travelers enter the Congo. There are three scenes, the pygmies, a snake and the gorilla camp.
The Nile is next and is by the far the longest section of the ride. There are multiple scenes here but the best are the totem pole scene and the head hunters. Elephants and rhinos will threaten to boat from the river.
The final section features the Mekong River in Asia. There are three scenes. The scariest is the temple scene. The scariest part about the temple is it is dark but nothing too scary other than that. The Mekong also feature the elephant bathing pool. This is probably the cutest scene.
All in all the ride lasts about 10 minutes.
In 2013 the Jingle Cruise was introduced. The boats get a holiday makeover, really only Christmas lights and a new name. Seasonal items are also added to the queue area. Skippers don a Santa hat and there is a holiday tone added to the script. Very few of the scenes have any change and they are very minor.
There are not height or health restrictions for the Jungle Cruise. Guests in wheelchairs and ECVs do not have to transfer but they do have to wait for one of two specially equipped boats, Bomokandi Bertha and Wamba Wanda.
Did You Know
The jungle boats used to be kept looking pristine and new but now are painted to look old and used?
While the skipper can control the speed and direction of movement the boats are actually on tracks?
Special dyes are added to the water to give it the right color. The coloring not only makes the river look authentic it also hides the boat track as well as the underwater mechanics of the audio-animatronics?
In the head hunter scene the salesman is referred to as Trader Sam or Chief Name? (Pronounced like naa-may.) Legend has it when the ride was about to open the chief had not yet been given a name. A cast member rehearsing for the ride thought the place holder “Name” was an exotic native name and pronounced it Naa-May and it stuck. Since then most have taken to calling him Trader Sam like his Disneyland counterpart.
This is certainly a great ride. Grumpy will do it at least once every trip. While it might seem like a great idea to do it at night Grumpy has found it is not that exciting. Most scenes are hard to see.
The animatronics and the vegetation are great but if you don’t have a good skipper the ride is dated. A lively skipper (who might even vary off script) makes the ride a lot better.