The Jungle Cruise, originally known as the Jungle River Cruise, is a riverboat amusement attraction located in the Adventureland section of numerous Disney theme parks throughout the world. The attraction is a virtual riverboat journey down a stream employing a hidden guiding system via Asian, African, and South American themed zones. Guests board authentic steam launches from a British explorers’ lodge from the 1930s, and Audio-Animatronic jungle animals are presented during the journey. A live Disney cast member serves as a tour guide and boat skipper, following a rough script and offering guests with a funny story.
The ride’s inaugural installation was presented at Disneyland for its grand opening in 1955. Several adjustments have been made throughout the years, including improved audio effects, storyline revisions, and the removal of culturally sensitive elements. The Hong Kong Disneyland installation has a drastically different plot than the other parks and offers tourists three different language options, each with its own line queue. On July 30, 2021, a film adaption of the ride was released in the United States after years of planning and delays.
Design and inspiration
Disney planned to include a jungle-themed ride among the attractions included during Disneyland’s grand opening in 1955. Inspiration came from a True Life Adventures film series documentary called The African Lion from 1955, as well as the 1951 adventure film The African Queen. Disney Imagineer Harper Goff frequently cited The African Queen in his ideas and took inspiration for the ride vehicle design from the steamboat featured in the film.
Bill Evans was the Imagineer in charge of landscaping Disneyland and the majority of Walt Disney World. During the production of Jungle Cruise, he was tasked with producing a genuine jungle on a tight budget. He incorporated “character plants,” which have an exotic appearance despite not being exotic, in addition to importing actual tropical plants. He employed a well-known technique in which he uprooted local orange trees and replanted them upside-down, allowing vines to grow on the exposed roots.
The turbidity of the water in the ride is managed in such a way that it obscures the boat’s steering system and other unpleasant elements such as perches and motorized platforms of the bathing Audio-Animatronic elephants and hippos. The river was originally brown, but was later converted to green and then to bluish-green. When water returns to the attraction, it must first pass through a 37″ diameter underground conduit before being used again. The canal is approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) deep and flows southward from Frontierland’s Rivers of America to Fantasyland. The ride path takes passengers through the entrance to Frontierland and into Adventureland, where it floats alongside the Tiki Room before re-entering Jungle Cruise near the ride’s exit. In 1994, the 1,920-foot (590-meter) waterway was reduced and rerouted. [Citation required]
Although Goff and Evans are credited with the ride’s conception and early design, animator Marc Davis, who has worked on venerable attractions such as The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, contributed his own flair in later incarnations. “Indian Elephant Bathing Pool” and “Rhinoceros Chasing Explorers up a Pole” were two of his contributions.
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