Journey Down the Riverbanks and Witness the Backside of Water
Have you ever been asked? What attraction to you best depicts Disneyland? The usual answers I hear are Pirates, The Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn, Space Mountain, It’s a Small World…
Did you know, not one of those was open when the park opened? My answer was, and has always been, The Jungle Cruise. It was there on opening day and was indeed, “Must See Entertainment!”. So much history within this story.
Here are a few “Did You Know’s”, some more common knowledge then others. Did you know, this attraction originally was supposed to have live animals? Did you know, this attraction was originally designed as a serious, true life, boat trip down adventurous rivers? Did you know, this attraction was the original E-ticket attraction when ticket books were rolled out? Did you know, this attraction was the ONLY E-ticket attraction when ticket books were rolled out? The meaning of E-ticket over the years has grown to white knuckle rides, but in the beginning, it meant something completely different, and it was defined by what the Jungle Cruise delivered!
The Jungle Cruise has been revamped over the years. The Imagineers of this attraction reads like a who’s who of park design, the most notable Harper Goff. After designing the Nautilus, Walt tapped Harper to design the boats cruising the rivers of Africa and Asia. Using the African Queen as inspiration, our plucky skippers steered the white hulled, red stripped boats through the dangers and excitement. Later, the boats would be revamped to resemble more closely the boats used in the African Queen. Goff would also design the animals of the ride using hydraulics. He even coined a new term used in the industry. Free animation! This was the vibration of the animal adding the appearance of realism. Elephant ears would sway, giraffe neck would sway. Who knew Harper was as much a marketing genius as he was an engineer. It took two years to get the animals working in time with the boats after opening day!
After the park had been opened, Walt heard a guest talking with her family. One suggested riding the Jungle Cruise and she said, “No, we have already seen it”. Walt decided the attractions had to change, they had to change to keep things new. Marc Davis was put in charge and the humor began making it’s way into the show. Here is another “Did You Know”, the safari that had been chased up the tree by a rhino was not originally designed to be a part of the ride. It was supposed to be along the Railroad as an advertisement to visit the Jungle Cruise. Walt liked it so much, they expanded the attraction to have an African Veldt area. Where else can you see lions guarding a sleeping zebra. Marc Davis’ sense of humor revitalized the attraction. With new scripts, and Dad Joke humor, the Jungle Cruise…. well, cruised to new heights.
That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the history of this adventure. July is the release of the movie The Jungle Cruise. Starring Maui and Mary Poppins… er, eh, I mean Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. Unlike some other animated-to-action movies, this project Rocks the big names… (pun intended). It appears Dwayne Spearheaded this project, and boy, am I glad he did. This project also stars Paul Giamatti, who was in San Andreas with Dwayne Johnson.
The Jungle Cruise is The Rock’s favorite attraction and he had his production company push Disney to create this live action adventure. Disney has spared no expense, building a whole town in the middle of a jungle on Hawaii. We are told to expect many references to the attraction. With The Rock at the helm, you can expect action, stunts, one liners, and a raised eyebrow.
Whether it is the Backside of water, or you’re in De Nile, or watching the native doing the potty dance because they’re “head” hunters, The Jungle Cruise jokes will having you cringing and smiling back to the dock. Now that this article is over, here’s Trader Sam. He’s our head salesman in the jungle. He’s got a pretty good deal for you guys today… two of his heads for just one of yours. Either way you slice it, you’ll always come out ahead. That’s a killer deal.