What's waiting for you deep in the jungle? You never know on Jungle Cruise! On this iconic Disney boat ride, you set sail on the dangerous and adventurous rivers of Asia, Africa and South America. Jungles are mysterious places, holding plenty of secrets to be discovered; that's why we're exploring the secret history of Jungle Cruise! Let's cruise along and see what awaits us in this secret history post.
The Secret History of Jungle Cruise
One of the most highly anticipated Disneyland attractions, Jungle Cruise opened in Adventureland at Disneyland Park on July 17, 1955. According to TheHistoryofDisney.com, it was one of the few attractions not based on a Disney animated film! Harper Goff, who worked on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," hopped on the project to help design the attraction. Inspired by the film "The African Queen," Jungle Cruise was originally to have real live, breathing animals (a suggestion by Walt Disney himself). Disney desired for the adventurous attraction to entertain guests with real animals because of the crazy success of his "True-Life Adventure Films."
However, Disney quickly discovered after consulting animal-care specialists that animals still have minds of their own and could not be counted on for consistency. Many of the animals would be asleep during the show, act unpredictably and may never even be seen by guests! What else could provide an exciting experience for guests? Audio-Animatronics, of course!
Imagineer and horticulturist Morgan "Bill" Evans was also consulted by Walt Disney for the creation of Jungle Cruise's landscape. Via DisneyParks.com, Evans wanted to create a "Hollywood Jungle"; this type of jungle would contain exotic plants, trees and more to create the atmosphere of dangerous, foreign and exciting lands. Adventureland was even moved from the east side to the west side of the park to use large eucalyptus trees into the attraction! These trees would grow to help the exotic plants to function and live inside the Hollywood Jungle.
Leading up to the grand opening of Jungle Cruise, Disney gave the attraction a handful of publicity on television. According to D23.com, while the attraction was being created, Disney drove viewers through the ride in his Nash Rambler! After Jungle Cruise opened at Disneyland, guests raved about the attraction and another version opened with Magic Kingdom Park on October 1, 1975. Tokyo Disneyland opened Jungle Cruise on April 15, 1983 and Hong Kong Disneyland started tours on September 12, 2005. A decision was made to not open a Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Paris since many European parks already had a very similar ride. Now for the extra fun part - the secret history of Jungle Cruise has some interesting facts!
Jungle Cruise Fun Facts
- Via MentalFloss.com, Walt Disney was inspired by Jungle Cruise to always improve and change attractions to keep guests coming back! This happened after Disney heard a mother tell her young son who was pointing at Jungle Cruise, "No, we did that last time we were here."
- During the holiday season, Jungle Cruise turns into Jingle Cruise at both Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Park. This is a more festive version of the boat ride!
- Think the animals' glowing eyes are some sort of high-tech, special effect? They're really just marbles with a reflective coating!
- One of the boats, Sankuru Sadie, actually sank at the Magic Kingdom Jungle Cruise in 2004! The boat still runs today.
- According to The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness, there's a large, caged tarantula after you pass through the turnstiles. She recommends to ask the Cast Member about it for an interesting story!
- You'll notice the front half of an airplane while sailing the rivers; look for the other half in the Casablanca Scene at Disney's Hollywood Studios' The Great Movie Ride.
- Via The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is placed directly across Bay Lake from Adventureland and perfectly matches the theming!
- The water of the rivers isn't really as dirty as it looks; Disney adds a mucky, green dye to disguise how shallow the water really is!
- Try the all-new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen restaurant next time you're at Magic Kingdom Park. The restaurant is inspired by Jungle Cruise!
There's always something new to discover on this classic Disney ride. Hope this secret history of Jungle Cruise inspired you to take your own exotic adventure! Check out our Jungle Cruise wait times, ride details and more. Make sure to discover more histories and facts with our other secret history posts.