A Comparison: 
Jungle Cruise
at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom
IMAGINEERING
Yesterland
 
The Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction at the original Disneyland in 1955 and Florida’s Magic Kingdom in 1971. Both rides are still popular today. They’re similar, but not identical. The differences go beyond just the piranha attack in California and the Cambodian temple cave in Florida.
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, October 30, 2009    
Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: Jungle Cruise load building (2007 photo)

Although the Disneyland Jungle Cruise is 16 years older than the Magic Kingdom version, the load building at Disneyland is much newer. In the mid-1990s, Disney’s Imagineers needed to squeeze the Indiana Jones Adventure into Disneyland’s tiny Adventureland. A new Jungle Cruise boathouse provided a second level that could be used as an overflow queue for the Indiana Jones Adventure or the Jungle Cruise ride. Skillfully designed and liberally decorated with artifacts that one might have encountered in a jungle outpost of the 1930s, the new load building sets the right mood for the ride.

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: Jungle Cruise load building (2007 photo)

At the Magic Kingdom, the FASTPASS signs and time indicators detract from the design of the building. Fortunately, the Jungle Cruise queue itself is full of artifacts of the fictional Jungle Navigation Co.

Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: Jungle Cruise boat (2009 photo)

Until the mid-1990s, the Jungle Cruise boats had white hulls with bright red or blue accents, clean red-and-white or blue-and-white striped canopies, gleaming white canopy supports, and jet-black smoke stacks. Then, with plans underway for the Indiana Jones Adventure, the boats were purposely given a run-down look. Now the boats would look like something that Dr. Jones might encounter in a distant jungle of the 1930s.

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: Jungle Cruise boat (2009 photo)

Even though no Indiana Jones Adventure was coming to the Magic Kingdom, the boats went from neat and tidy to aged and grungy anyway. The positive way of looking at this is that the 1930s look tells a better story. The cynical view is that the unmaintained look requires far less maintenance.

Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: Gorillas in the Camp (2005 photo)

Originally designed for the slightly longer Magic Kingdom Jungle Cruise, the Gorilla Camp scene also came to Disneyland in the 1970s. At Disneyland, the gorilla family—the “uninvited house guests” who “finally got the Jeep to turn over”—are all over the campsite.

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: Gorillas in the Camp (2007 photo)

The gorillas in Florida are all safely under the protection of the tent roof. That’s probably a good idea, considering the frequent and heavy rainstorms in Florida.

Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: Schweitzer Falls (2005 photo)

At Disneyland, Schweitzer Falls—named, of course, for that famous humanitarian, Dr. Albert Falls—seems to be the “water saver” version.

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: Schweitzer Falls (2009 photo)

At the Magic Kingdom, Schweitzer Falls is a more impressive tribute to Dr. Falls.

Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: “The back side of water” (2009 photo)

Yes, it’s the “amazing, astounding back side of water.” At Disneyland, it’s the back side of three streams of water.

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: “The back side of water” (2009 photo)

At the Magic Kingdom, it’s the back side of a wall of water.

Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: Lost Safari (2008 photo)

At Disneyland, the Lost Safari scene joined the Jungle Cruise in Summer 1964. A Great White Hunter and his four fez-wearing native African porters sought safety from a rhinoceros with a particularly long horn. More than 45 years later, they’re still up there, moving slightly higher whenever the rhino raises his horn.

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: Lost Safari (2009 photo)

When the Florida version of the Jungle Cruise opened, the rhino was once again trying get his point across to the hunter and his porters. But at some point, the men on the pole changed. The safari group now consists of five hapless white guys, with one of them still wearing a fez. Also, the pole has an unexplained platform on the top. Presumably the platform provides some protection from the Florida rain.

Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: Lost Safari detail (2009 photo)

The porters on the pole at Disneyland wear identical khaki outfits and carry identical small backpacks.

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: Lost Safari detail (2007 photo)

The current safari party at the Magic Kingdom carries more stuff on their backs than their Disneyland counterparts.

Jungle Cruise
Disneyland: The Head Salesman (2007 photo)

It’s Trader Sam, the Head Salesman here in the jungle, offering “a two-for-one special: two of his heads for one of yours.”

Jungle Cruise
Magic Kingdom: The Head Salesman (2009 photo)

At Magic Kingdom, Trader Sam looks nothing like his Disneyland counterpart. With an umbrella (must be that Florida rain again), a Bolivian bowler hat, and a need to lower his body mass index, he offers the same deal as his physically fit Disneyland counterpart because “business is shrinking.”

For the past two decades, he even had a different name—Chief Name (pronounced Nah-Me). There are at least two versions of how Trader Sam became Chief Name. One story is that a revised script was incomplete; a Jungle Cruise skipper read “Chief (name)” in the script as Chief Nah-Me, much to the delight of the other skippers, so the name stuck. Another story is that there was a contest to come up with a new name; a skipper wrote “Name” in the blank, and “Name” won the vote as the best name.

Now comes the most dangerous part of this article... the return to civilization and those California freeways.


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© 2007-2009 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated October 30, 2009.

Photo of Jungle Cruise load building at Disneyland: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Jungle Cruise load building at Magic Kingdom: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise boat at Disneyland: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise boat at Magic Kingdom: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Jungle Cruise gorilla scene at Disneyland: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise gorilla scene at Magic Kingdom: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Schweitzer Falls at Disneyland: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Schweitzer Falls at Magic Kingdom: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Jungle Cruise back side of water at Disneyland: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Jungle Cruise back side of water at Magic Kingdom: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Lost Safari scene at Disneyland: 2008 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Lost Safari scene at Magic Kingdom: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Lost Safari scene detail at Disneyland: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Lost Safari scene detail at Magic Kingdom: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Head Salesman at Disneyland: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Jungle Cruise Head Salesman at Magic Kingdom: 2009 by Werner Weiss.