"Hey there, hi there, ho there crew! I'll be your skipper, your alligator wrestler, and quite possibly your swimming instructor."
If you have been to a Disney theme park, you probably recognize that introduction from the world famous Jungle Cruise.
I traveled many miles on the Jungle Cruise at Walt Disney World between 1992 & 1994--going around, and around, and around.
Walt Disney based the Jungle Cruise on the film "The African Queen" and scenes from his "True Life Adventure Series" that first appeared in the 1950's. The original design called for live animals, but it was determined that most animals would be asleep during the day and not visible to guests.
Giant butterflies can be found on the Amazon. Their wing spans can grow from twelve inches all the way up to a whopping one foot!
Jungle Cruise boats at Walt Disney World have axles and wheels on the bottom that are in a guide trough, so no steering is required, but most skippers spin the wheel for show. Skippers control the speed and direction (forward and reverse) of the boat.
Trips are approximately 10 minutes in length, but can last up to a week, so be sure to bring plenty of provisions. Boats can hold 31 guests--in the first layer.
The Jungle Cruise was the featured attraction at Disneyland in California when it opened in 1955. It has been revamped many times over the years. The river was diverted slightly to accommodate the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction, and the original boats were replaced with larger ones of a new design. The imagineers have also made some recent changes in the attraction to make it more interactive.
If it is raining when you board the boat, don't worry. It is magical Disney water. When you sit down, it will disappear. Keep sliding forward on the cushions as you enter--that's how we keep the cushions clean.
Walt Disney World's Jungle Cruise opened with the Magic Kingdom park on October 1, 1971. Every Disney theme park has a Jungle Cruise, with the exception of Disneyland Paris.
If you go to a Disney park, be sure to catch the 3:00 parade--but be sure to let it go--it will drag you all the way down Main Street!
The picture below demonstrates one of the laws of the jungle--survival of the fittest. Or--it doesn't pay to be a zebra.
The original Disneyland Jungle Cruise featured educational commentary by the skippers. Over time humorous ad-libs were added, and they stuck. Today's Jungle Cruise has a recommended spiel, and many skippers still throw in a few--or a lot--of ad-lib jokes.
The Jungle Cruise dock is made of hickory. Be careful when it rains--it becomes a hickory slippery dock.
All of the vegetation in the ride is real, with the exception of the canopy above your boat as you enter the Amazon rain forest. In cold weather large gas powered heaters are used to keep the tropical plants warm.
There are sixteen boats on the Jungle Cruise. Twelve is the maximum number on the river at a time, including three at the dock. The other boats are either in storage, fueling, or routine maintenance just behind the ride. One boat is usually at central shops for a complete overhaul.
The names of the boats are: Amazon Annie, Bomokandi Bertha, Congo Connie, Ganges Gertie, Irrawaddy Irma, Kwango Kate, Mongala Millie, Nile Nellie, Orinoco Ida, Rutshuru Ruby, Sankuru Sadie, Senegal Sal, Ucayali Lolly, Volta Val, Wamba Wanda, and Zambezi Zelda.
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