Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jungle Cruise Tribute

Jungle Cruise was one of the first early attractions not based on a Disney animated film. On the suggestion of Harper Goff, the attraction took its inspiration from the film The African Queen. Walt’s early plans for this ride included real live animals. Inspired by the success of his True-Life Adventure Films, he was determined to bring these wonders of nature to a place where guests could see them up close and share his admiration.

Upon Consultation with animal-care specialists, Walt was convinced that although the domesticated mules and horses in Frontierland could generally be counted on to perform their roles, live exotics animals would never provide the consistent show he wanted. They couldn’t be trusted to stay in areas in which they’d remain visible, they’d sleep most of the day, and they’d surely be irritated by the constant boatloads of gawkers and the special effects required to tell the story.

In this video you will see the virtual jungle cruise tour presented by Walt E. Disney himself.

The parks would not get their exotic animal experience until many years later upon the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in 1998, when clever, new design techniques enabled separation of animals and people.

Tha Amazon, Congo, Nile and Mekong rivers are represented here. The boats, which take their names from these and other rivers of the world, were redesigned in 1998 to effect a more rugged and aged appearance-more in keeping with the spirit of adventure than the relatively pristine boats that had previously circled the river. The Spiel, or dialogue, delivered by the skippers has envolved over the years and is constantly being refined.

Lessons learned on Jungle Cruise in the art of landscape design as set decoration have paid dividends in all of the Disney Parks. WDI Master Landscape Architect Bill Evans carefully selected a palette of plants that would evoke a tropical feel while remaining hardy enough to withstand the relatively mild (but not tropical) central Florida winters. The plants needed to feel correct, even if they would not be found together, or in the types of groupings he used-even on the same continents we portray them to be. Bill broke away from a textbook approach in order to better serve the story.

The art of the WDI sight gag was perfected by imaginer Marc Davis. His work for Disney Animation, including the classic characters Tinker Bell, Princess Aurora, and Cruella De Vil, gave him the impeccable sense of timing that allowed his creations to read instantly-an important consideration in light of the limited time and dialogue available to us as the audience moves through a scene. His gag sketches for Jungle Cruise were often translated practically verbatim into the attraction.

Quick Takes

Bill Evans
Keep an eye out for a highly appropriate tribute to Bill Evans in the plaza outside the Jungle Cruise queue. The wooden planter boxes in which the large trees are placed are tagged with the fictitious designation “Evans Exotic Plant Exporters.” In Reality, Bill Evans likely imported more exotic plants into USA than anyone else.

The queue for the Jungle Cruise was reworked in 1994 in order to expand its capacity and provide more shade. Along with this expansion came a corresponding increase in show value, including a substantial propping treatment and the vintage radio broadcast that sets the stage so well for your voyage.

Look for a great WDI reference in the new propping – Wathel Rogers’s name appears on a tag in the animal cage referencing his work in developing the mechanisms for the animals viewed from boats.

There’s a great bit of wordplay in the name of the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Employee of the Month, seen overhead just before you board. Try saying E.L. O’Fevre fast and then try not to catch it!

Magic Kingdom

The WDW Jungle Cruise is set at 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 don't carry revolvers with blanks in them anymore. The real guns have been replaced with realistic looking props that trigger an electronic gunshot sound through the boat's audio system.

Near the Hippo Pool, a piece of a downed airplane can be seen along the shoreline (There’s a hidden Mickey on the plane). 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.

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 toughest part was making sure these plants had the appropriate look and feel of traditional tropical plants in the equatorial jungle.


The queue of the Jungle Cruise is heavily themed with period artifacts, tools, gear, photos and more. It is meant to resemble an outpost where a booking may be made to explore the jungle rivers. It is divided into 4 main sections, that may be opened or closed in sequence, in order to accommodate the fluctuation of crowds. The queue is meant to wind around heavily so that the guests may see all the different artifacts in the queue. The most notable section of the queue is the office of Albert Awol.

Ride Description
The skipper introduces themself, and begins to take a boat full of passengers down the tropical rivers of the world. The ride starts out in the Amazon River, where the passengers enconter butterflies with 1 foot wingspans. The boat then passes Inspiration Falls,

 which then transitions into the Congo River, in Africa. The skipper explains how there is a Pygmy welcoming party ready for them, but when they get to the beach, they see the canoes are empty, and the place deserted. The skipper wonders what scared them off, and they soon discover it was a giant python.

The boat then passes a camp that has been raided by gorillas, and that transitions the cruise into the Nile River. After encountering two elephants, the boat passes along the African Veldt, where numerous African mammals are watching 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 runs into 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. They see the natives dancing near the boat and are soon found in an ambush. They escape, and then transition into the Mekong River. They go through a temple which has been destroyed by an earthquake, and has a tiger, monkeys, and cobras everywhere. Find the giant spider here and you’ll find a hidden Mickey on its back. After they exit, they come across an elephant bathing pool where numerous elephants are relaxing in the water.

 The boat narrowly passes by when an elephant almost squirts them. The cruise concludes by passing Chief Namé, the head salesman of the jungle, who offers 2 shrunken heads for one of the passengers.

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

The Sankuru Sadie is the only boat in the Magic Kingdom's fleet ever to have sunk.
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
•    Senegal Sal
•    Ucyali Lolly
•    Volta Val
•    Wamba Wanda (Wheelchair lift equipped)
•    Zambesi Zelda
Retired Boats
•    Kwango Kate (Retired in 2000)












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