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The 626

The World Famous Jungle Cruise

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 09-23-2011 at 12:46 AM
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The Jungle Cruise is one of the classic Disney attractions beloved (or, if you don't like the jokes, bemoaned!) by people everywhere. Its combination of exotic travel and zany humor makes it memorable for those who dare to embark.

Unlike most of the other attractions that opened with Disneyland back in 1955, the Jungle Cruise was one of the few NOT based on an animated Disney film. In fact, on a suggestion from Harper Goff, the ride took its inspiration from Disney's True-Life Adventure films, along with the 1951 film The African Queen, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

Because of the success of his True-Life Adventure films, Walt originally wanted to use real animals on the ride. He thought that a 'cruise' through wild and exotic lands featuring animals in their natural habitat would be the ideal way to present them. People could see these animals in a zoo, but having them featured on his boat ride would allow guests to get up close and personal!

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After many consultations with animal care specialists, it was decided that the animals never would provide the consistent show that Walt wanted. It was feared that the animals wouldn't stay in their designated areas, they'd sleep most of the day, and they'd be riled up by the steady boatloads of guests trying to catch a glimpse of them.

Of course, we all know by now that Walt Disney World overcame all these obstacles when they opened Disney's Animal Kingdom in 1998, but that's a story for another time. Back in 1955, these were legitimate concerns, so it was decided to go with the most exotic animals of all: the audio-animatronic kind!

Using audio-animatronics gave the Imagineers greater freedom to develop their gags. No longer constricted by the use of stubborn, live animals, they were now free to expand upon their ideas and pretty much go wild (no pun intended!).

Imagineer Marc Davis perfected the art of the sight gag with this ride. His work for Disney Animation helped him hone an impeccable sense of timing. This allowed his sight gags to be recognized and understood instantly, an extremely important feature, since guests move through scenes quickly. His concept sketches for Jungle Cruise were often translated exactly as they appeared on paper.

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Imagineer Bill Evans carefully selected plants that would look tropical but which would also be able to survive in the Californian climate. The lessons learned from Evans's 'art of landscaping' were later put to use in Disney parks around the world.

The queue of the Jungle Cruise is heavily themed with period artifacts, tools, gear, photos, and much more.

Disneyland's version is meant to resemble an outpost where guests can book passage to explore jungle rivers. Walt Disney World's version looks like an abandoned British outpost taken over by a touring company.

Both are divided into a few main sections which can be opened or closed to accommodate crowds. Albert Awol provides radio entertainment for both attractions, though his spiel differs in each park.

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When the ride first opened, it was a much different experience then it is today.

First, the carefully selected foliage that Bill Evans placed in the attraction hadn't really grown in yet. This gave the ride a bit of a sparse and empty feeling. It would take a few years for it to become 'tropical'.

The Skippers were more of a tour guide, pointing out facts about the tropical settings, than they were the humorous folks we all love and loathe today.

Also, several of its classic scenes were not quite ready. The elephant bathing pool was added in 1962, the safari camp in 1964, and in 1976 Disney added seven entirely new scenes.

Needless to say, it took some time for the ride to really hit its groove! The ride continues to be a popular attraction, a classic in the annals of theme park history.

So, if you'd like to see the rivers of the world, but can't afford to do it for real, the world famous Jungle Cruise is the next best thing!


[QUOTE][B]Jungle Cruise Quick Facts[/B]


[LIST][*]When The Jungle Cruise opened in 1955, only two boats were running: Ganges Gal and Congo Queen.[*]There are several hidden tributes to Imagineers throughout the ride and the queue. The wooden planter boxes with large trees inside are marked for delivery to the fictitious 'Evans Exotic Plant Exporters.' Bill Evans likely imported more exotic plants into the U.S.A. than anyone else, hence this tribute to him.[*]Check out the crew mess menu posted near the departure point. Hopefully everybody likes chicken![*]Recognize the name of the Employee of the Month? No? That's a good thing, but if you do, make sure E.L. O'Fevre doesn't get a hold of you![*]Near the Hippo Pool, a piece of a downed airplane is visible along the shoreline. This is the back half of the Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior that can be seen in Casablanca scene on The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.[*]The boats at the Magic Kingdom are Amazon Annie, Bomokandi Bertha, Congo Connie, Ganges Gertie, Irrawaddy Irma, Mongala Millie, Nile Nellie, Orinoco Ida, Rutshuru Ruby, Sankuru Sadie, Senegal Sal, Ucyali Lolly, Volta Val, Wamba Wanda, and Zambesi Zelda. Sankuru Sadie is the only boat in the Magic Kingdom's fleet ever to have sunk, and Kwango Kate was retired in 2000.[/LIST]
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Do you have a favorite Jungle Cruise story or joke? Post below, we'd love to hear it!
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[/FONT][/SIZE][HR][/HR][SIZE=2][FONT=verdana][B][I]by Jeff Heimbuch[/I][/B]

If you have a tip, questions, comments, or gripes, please feel free email me at [EMAIL="[email protected]"][email protected][/EMAIL] or leave a comment below.

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Updated 09-26-2011 at 04:46 AM by The 626

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Comments

  1. 9906's Avatar
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    Great!!

    Did take me time to get E.L. O'fevre....
  2. FloFelix's Avatar
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    Sorry, but this is a very disappointing article, which sounds like something out of Disney's promotional department. What about adding an overview of critical analyses of the Jungle Cruise such as those by Umberto Eco, Louis Marin, or Mark Gottdiener, who all discovered subtexts of colonialism/imperialism and capitalism in this attraction? Maybe this is asking too much from a site like Miceage, but simply repeating the contents of the Disneyland Guidebook seems like a waste of space to me.
  3. WDITrent's Avatar
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    Hey, it's better than no column! I find it classy of MiceAge to run their site with this level of punctuality. Though the "626" name, I admit, makes me cringe.
  4. RSoxNo1's Avatar
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    A few years ago we were in Disneyland and I had one of the best skippers I've ever had. His comedic timing was better than any I had ever experienced on 50+ rides on the Jungle Cruise. My favorite line came when approaching the two African Bull Elephants - I'm paraphrasing a bit:

    "That's an African Bull Elephant. I don't think you guys really appreciate how rare a site this is. You will NEVER see another one in your lifetime."
    (The boat turns the corner to reveal the other Bull Elephant)
    (Jarred looks around to the people on the boat, looks at the elephant and says)
    "Um.... that's a polar bear"
    Updated 10-29-2011 at 11:01 AM by dland_lover (Removed Cast Member name per MiceChat policy.)
  5. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Thank you for the interesting article Jeff. We DO appreciate your hard work writing two columns for this site.
  6. hititskip18's Avatar
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    as a current skipper at disneylands jungle cruise i truely appreciate the coverage of a beloved attraction that i and may people enjoy. such an honor to be apart of a rick and corny history. my favorite moment so far at the cruise was a little boy who pretty much at every animal i pointed out kept saying "shoot it! shoot it!" had me laughing through most of my tour.
  7. techskip's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure there were more then 2 boats opening day. I'm not sure where exactly that "fact" came from. I've spoken with members of the opening day crew (thanks in part to the festivities of the 50th). I believe it was 11 boats opening day, not sure. I know ti was 11 in the fleet by the time the year closed.

    It'd be nice if the Jungle Facts were defined as either Disneyland or Disney World. I tried so hard to get the old Maggie split in half and put at the Disneyland C Curve.

    And sadly the opening animals weren't audio-animatronics. It was a combination of looped cam/lever systems and track based movements with jungle sounds and music in the background. They didn't get actual sync'd audio/movement until the 1960's. In fact the 1963 addition of the Tiki Room was part of the decision to add the new technology to Jungle Cruise. I have training manuals with direct quotes on this part.

    Great effort. As Dusty pointed out it's wonderful to have articled about the various attractions at Disneyland.
  8. JK020489's Avatar
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    Please watch your step and your head. If you do miss your step and hit your head, please watch your language. There are children everywhere!
  9. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    I think you picked a great subject and your story has facts that are for the 1955 Disneyland Jungle Cruise and the 1971 Walt Disney World edition. It would be good to tell which one they go to, like Disney World is the only one with the Lockheed Electra tail section. (Maybe one day it will be rejoined to the front wing section for the WDI Disney Imagineering Campus Air Terminal in California.) Disneyland got some new scenes in 1994/ when the Indianna Jones attraction was added and the load building was redone more like the original concept. It might be interesting to compare all 4 Jungle Cruises and their differences. I read that Tokyo Disneyland had Hosted the "Best Skipper" contest of all the Disney Parks. I dont know if former Skippers Kevin Costner or John Lasseter attended.
  10. jpg391's Avatar
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    I loved to go on the Jungle Cruse in Disneyland when I was living in Southern California.
  11. craig's Avatar
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    Before we ride, each person in our group selects their favorite joke. If during the ride, their joke is told then that person does something special on the boat. I can't say what it is because I don't want to ruin the specialness of it. By the 3rd-4th time, the skipper is in on it and tries their best to tell as many jokes to make sure everyone is involved.
  12. ttintagel's Avatar
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    They don't seem to tell the joke about Dr. Albert Falls anymore. That was my favorite when I was a kid.
  13. Not My Real Name's Avatar
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    When Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961, it had a ride called "The LaSalle's River Boat Adventure." The boats were virtually identical to JC's. The ride was very much different from JC, so I assume that's why Walt never sued Angus Wynne, the founder of SFOT. Also, LaSalle's had a different ending, in which the boat comes up to a waterfall which parts and the cliff face opens up to reveal a cavern which the boat enters and then exits just before reaching the dock.

    The skippers all told jokes, such as, "Well, we never found the Mississippi River or the Alamo or the Jacksboro Highway, but I hope you folks had a nice time anyway." In another part of the ride, the skipper asks a mechanical man if it's safe to go on, and the mannequin is vigorously shaking his head. The skipper either says, "Unfortunately, I don't know French, so I don't know what he's saying." or "For those of you who don't speak French, he's shaking his head 'No'."

    The highlight of the trip was the Spanish log fort that fired a cannon a couple of times at the boat and the cannonballs harmlessly hit the water with big splashes. As a kid, I couldn't figure out how they managed this.

    Each boat had an antenna atop it that would trigger the special effects by hitting an electric wire strung across the river. Indians in a canoe would show up, but they never fired their arrows at you, or you'd see a bear growl at you for being too close to the bee hive he's trying to get honey from. The skipper would say, "Wouldn't you get angry if someone stole your honey and nectar?"

    I always liked this ride, but, unfortunately, it's no longer there, having been replaced by a rapids ride back in the '80s. C'est la vie.