(October 1, 1971 - present)
History and photos of the exotic Jungle Cruise boat ride in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom.
The Jungle Cruise boat ride is an original Magic Kingdom attraction and opened with the rest of the park on October 1, 1973. The story behind the Jungle Cruise, though, dates back to the early 1950s.
As most people are aware, Walt Disney was fond of animal life. What began as simple drawings of animals turned into animation, and a mouse named Mickey catapulted him to stardom. Starting in 1948, Walt Disney Productions released a series of films called True-Life Adventures. These short documentaries took television viewers into the natural world, showing and educating them in topics ranging from seals to water birds to the Everglades to deserts and prairies. In the early 1950s, planning was well under way for Disneyland out in California. The questions were asked: How can park guests experience fantastic animal encounters while on a safari-type ride? Would it be possible to re-create a voyage such as that in 1951's hit adventure film, The African Queen? Can real animals successfully be used in a theme park attraction?
Using real animals as part of a theme park attraction (a concept that would not be brought to life until Kilimanjaro Safaris opened in 1998 with Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park) was ultimately ruled out as the animals themselves couldn't be counted on to perform on cue for the ride. The concept for the ride was solid, but instead of live animals the ride would use Audio-Animatronic performers. Extensively using The African Queen as a guide, the Jungle Cruise was created and ultimately opened with the rest of Disneyland on July 17, 1955. The jungle safari boat ride was a hit and has continued to be a favorite amongst the park guests since its opening.
The same exact concept and many of the famous scenes were copied from the Disneyland version of the ride and placed in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The Jungle Cruise opened in the Adventureland section of the park on October 1, 1971.
The Jungle Cruise experience begins with finding your way to the edge of Adventureland. After making your way past the towering trees and tropical foliage, and then descending a few feet, you'll find yourself at the entrance to The Jungle Navigation, Co., a 1930s era British outpost on the Amazon River. The FastPass machines are on the left side of the building. If you're ready to join the expedition now, the line queue entrance is towards the right side. The handicap entrance for Jungle Cruise is on the far left side of the building, near the exit to the ride.
The line queue for Jungle Cruise meanders from one building to another in the British outpost. This is a heavily themed area designed to look like a company where you can book expedition tours along the jungle river. Along the way we see artifacts from the time period, though depending on how closely you look at them, you may (intentionally) find quite a few jokes and puns. We also hear 1930s style music playing on the intercom along with occasional announcements by Albert Awol, the "Voice of the Jungle."
Our experience in the line queue ends as we finally reach the boat dock and board a themed 1930's-era steamer boat. The boats are simultaneously loaded from the front and the back. Guests sit on padded benches that line both sides of the boats.
WARNING --- SPOILERS!
The voyage on the world famous Jungle Cruise begins as we wave good-bye to the people at the docks and wonder if we'll ever see them again.
We begin on the Amazon River in South America. After rounding a bend in the river we see some giant butterflies near the boat. Our guide tells us that they can grow a wingspan of twelve inches, and sometimes they can even reach an entire foot. After the butterflies is Inspiration Falls on the left side of the boat. Why is it called Inspiration Falls? Because it inspires us to go deeper and deeper into the jungle.
After Inspiration Falls we're on the Congo River in central Africa. Ahead on the right side of the river is a Pygmy village. The pygmies were supposed to be welcoming us, but the village seems deserted. Our guide surmises that something must have scared them away. On the left side of the river is a giant python hanging in a tree, giving us a sinister look while we quickly pass it. Up ahead on the right side is our guide's jungle camp. The only problem is that gorillas discovered and proceeded to trash the camp site. They're still there playing around with items that the found in the camp.
We're still in Africa but now we're on the Nile River. Our guide introduces us to an African elephant on the left, and then we pass by an African savannah scene on the right side. The African savannah is filled with all sorts of animals such as giraffe, wildebeests, impala, zebra, and vultures. In a rocky outcropping is a small pride of lions carefully watching over a sleeping zebra. On the opposite side of the savannah we see a group of hunters trying to climb a tree before an angry rhino can get to them.
After the African savannah we pass by two Nile crocodiles on the right side of the river. What's more important though is Schweitzer Falls, a large waterfall directly in front of us. The guide is able to cut to the right and barely turn our boat before getting drenched by the waterfall. After the waterfall we see the tail section of an airplane that crashed into the jungle many years ago. A plane crash means only one thing ---- hippos. We carefully pass through a group of hippos hiding in the water. Some of them are in our path and threaten the boat, so the guide uses a revolver to fire some shots to scare them away. It works and our path is clear.
After the hippos is a headhunter village. The village is on the right side and we can see some natives beating drums and conducting a war dance. Our guide warns us that the natives normally attack us from the right side, but they actually ambush us from the left. Our guide has us duck down as we slip away and continue down the river.
Up ahead we pass behind Schweitzer Falls. It's a prime opportunity to take pictures of the backside of water. It may look a lot like the front, but the guide assures us that it's really the back.
Now we're on the Mekong River in southeast Asia. A few crocodiles are in the water as we approach the remains of an ancient temple. We proceed into the flooded temple and see a tiger, some baboons, and a few cobras guarding a forgotten treasure. The temple is my favorite part of the ride. :-) We exit the temple and find ourselves in a secret bathing pool for Indian elephants. The elephants are playing in the river and waterfall. One of the elephant rises from the water and threatens to soak us, but we stay dry when passing him. Apparently he forgot to pack his trunk.
Near the end of the voyage is Chief Nahmee (a.k.a. Trader Sam) standing on the left side of the river. Apparently he's the head salesman of the jungle. Our guide informs us that right now he's having a sale --- two of his shrunken heads for one of ours. It seems like a good deal to me.
The Jungle Cruise ends as we return to the dock on the Amazon River.
END OF SPOILERS!
For the longest of time, the Jungle Cruise has been a popular ride in the Magic Kingdom. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jungle Cruise had one of the longest wait times in the park. In those days it was common to see the line queue overflow onto the main path and stretch all the way to Caribbean Plaza and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Most of the Jungle Cruise is similar to how guests experienced the ride back in 1971. Since that point the trees and foliage has grown larger, creating a darker and more exotic feel to the ride. The revolver that the guide uses to scare away the hippos has been removed and later re-added to the ride. The biggest change occurred in 1998 when the boats themselves were changed from the all-white with a red and white striped canopy design to a more rustic look from the 1930s. FastPass was added to the Jungle Cruise, though on many days the ride tends to have very short wait times in the later afternoons. Take a ride at night for a different experience in the jungle.
The Jungle Cruise remains as a favorite ride for many of the Magic Kingdom's visitors. It's entertaining, there are hints of danger, and the ride has a strong sense of adventure and exploration.
|FASTPASS||Jungle Cruise is a FASTPASS attraction.|
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