When Disneyland opened in 1955 Jungle Cruise was on the original roster. It has remained largely unchanged in principle since then, only undergoing minor updates and improvements, and has spawned sister versions at most other Disney Parks around the world. So what is it about the ride that keeps it going through the years and loved by all generations? Find out in our Jungle Cruise Disneyland California Review.
- Location – Disneyland Park – Adventure Land
- Type – Themed Water Ride
- Duration – 7+ Mins
- Height Restriction – None
- Average Queue time – 5mins – 60Mins
- Genie+ – No
- Additional Info – Original 1955 Attraction, Comedic Narration.
What is the Jungle Cruise
The Jungle Cruise is a simple premise. You are taking a riverboat expedition through the remote untamed jungle. You will encounter wild animals. Lush jungle and untouched civilizations. There is almost no thrill element and the boat ride itself is calm and relaxed with no drops or scares. You are provided a guide who will narrate the journey for you as you explore the remote jungles of India and Africa, and the Amazon…it’s not exactly geographically correct!
As the ride passes through the heavily planted and now very mature jungle foliage you encounter models and animatronics of various jungle creatures, Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Giraffes, Gorillas, Hippos, Snakes, Elephants, Phirana, Monkeys, and Elephants. Before finally encountering a remote, gang of Monkeys* who have attacked previous expeditions, and who now decide to attack the cruise. Again these are Animatronics, there is nothing real in the Jungle.
*These Monkeys replace the old cabalistic tribe who you used to encounter but has now been deemed culturally insensitive, but we are not sure the remaining cannibalistic tribes deep in the remote Papua New Guinea Jungles really cared?
Originally the ride was educational and the tour was delivered very dryly. Even in 1955, the guests were unimpressed at being shown models of animals they could see at the zoos or in the cinema. Some people even had TVs. Something had to be done to liven up what was basically a really boring ride. The solution was to add comedy and so the world-famous Jungle Cruise was born.
This is the new updated Ride Video, with more culturally appropriate scenes
The Queue is often quite short, the ride has good throughput and despite being popular for all ages and having no height limit even at busy times the queue is often less than other family rides. This is fortunate as there is little good to say about the queue area as you meander around a replica boathouse there is not much to see or do, but at least there is some shade on hot days. There are a few interesting artifacts dotted about and clips from the cruise help set the scene but overall it’s one to forget.
This ride has been excluded from the Genie+ service and has no single rider or lightning lane. If you want a ride on the Jungle Cruise you are going to have to wait in line! The good news is that the queue line can dip down to fairly reasonable times at points during the day.
You enter the ride vehicle a large tramp steamer from the Golden era of exploration of the early 1900s. The Boats have seating areas along the center and the outside edge of the boat taking 20+ people per boat. The central seats offer better views as you get good views of both sides.
The trip itself is simple as the boat sails around the waterway. There are no surprises or thrill elements to the ride itself just a basic cruise the excitement comes from the different scenes and set pieces and the accompanying Narration performed by your skipper along the way.
The Ride takes you on a journey through various Jungle habitats from around the world and displays a number of different animals along the way. The Models are fairly dated and as stated this would be a pretty boring ride were it not for the script delivered in a pretty fantastic way by the various skippers on board. The Jokes are all really corny but it’s impossible not to fall for a few dry laughs as the hapless skipper bumbles his way around the river. The Jungle habitat is the most impressive. Remember you are actually in the middle of a huge urban metropolis and Disney has carved out an incredible little jungle habitat filled with exotic and dense foliage. It has had a few decades now to mature and it really is a jungle wonderland now.
In 2021 the Ride underwent its biggest change in decades. Disney had decided some of the scenes were no longer culturally appropriate. Essentially some of the depictions of tribal cultures can be viewed as pretty negative.
So now instead of being attacked by a primitive cannibalistic tribe, you witness the aftermath of a failed expedition where chimpanzees have taken over a boat and stolen most of the supplies. We have included the old video below and you can see the different scenes starting around the 5-minute mark.
Trader Sams was the final scene and has been a historic favorite and this has had the axe taken to it as well. The Trading post still remains but Sam has been removed, along with his shrunken heads and now it’s just Ellie and some monkeys manning the post.
We have to say we never had any issue with the old layout but times have changed and the new scenes and layouts do not really negatively affect the experience so it is all good from our perspective.
Overall we love the ride. It’s Classic Disney, an incredibly detailed experience for the whole family completely over-imagined and meticulously presented. There isn’t a moment on the ride where you can really tell you are not floating along a jungle river. The animal models are a poor analog for the real thing but using real animals in such a small space would be impractical. The layers of comic narration bring it all to life and the humor is perfectly pitched at all ages and extracts laughs from everyone on board. Quite how the Cast Members manage to perform this over and over all day is quite incredible.
The ride is not thrilling or technologically advanced, it’s old-school Imagineering at its best and these sorts of rides are why you come to Disneyland.
Have Your Say
Let us know your thoughts on this classic Disneyland Ride. Does it still have what it takes in the modern theme park world or is it too much a ride of yesteryear? How do you find the narration scripts hilarious or cringeworthy? Let us know in the comments below if you have anything to say about the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland California.