Unusually early rain for a Florida Summer has decreased my frequency of visits to the park, but I spent a nice afternoon at the Magic Kingdom this past week. During the day, spent some time on the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland and what a great time we had.
Inspired by the classic film The African Queen lead Imagineer Harper Goff to constantly reference that film for many of his details and ideas. Harper’s experience working in motion pictures was perfect for designing the life-size attractions for the Disney park(s).
Despite the tremendous input that Harper had in the design of the attraction, the Disney Legend Marc Davis really provided the heart to the Jungle Cruise with his conceptual sketches and plans.
The Jungle Cruise was one of the original attractions when the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 and is a classic example Disney storytelling through attraction design. The Amazon, Congo, Nile and Mekong rivers are represented in the attraction with each of the boats named from the great rivers of the world.
There are 15 boats in the Jungle Cruise fleet. Each boat can take 39 passengers and cruises along at a top speed of 2.18 miles per hour. The boats are named: Amazon Annie, Bomokandi Bertha, Congo Connie, Ganges Gertie, Irrawaddy Itm, Mongala Millie, Nile Nellie, Orinocco Ida, Rutshuru Ruby, Sankuru Sadie, Senegal Sal, Ucyali Lolly, Volta Val, Wamba Wanda and Zembesi Zelda.
In 1998 the entire fleet was redesigned to provide a more rugged appearance then the original boats, while the spiel the skippers deliver has constantly been refined over the years.
Another great feature of the Jungle Cruise is the landscape design of the attraction; conceived by Walt Disney Imagineer Master Landscape Architect, Bill Evans. Bill had to select plants that would provide the right tropical feel while remaining hardy enough to survive the Florida winters.
Fun fact: As a tribute to Bill Evans, the wooden planter boxes are labeled Evans Exotic Plant Exporters.
Fun fact: the spiel given by the skippers has been refined over the years.
Wrapping it up
The ride has had some updates to the queue area in the recent past. Although some of the features may be showing their age, a good skipper working their speil is a great way to see some of the talented castmembers working real hard to make your day at the Magic Kingdom wonderful. The Jungle Cruise is a must for anyone visiting the park and it is a FastPass ride, so there really is no excuse for missing one of the great rides in Disney history.