Saturday, June 1, 2013

Disneyland Review: Jungle Cruise

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Puns make for a fun trip around the rivers of the world
Cons: Dated Animatronics; skipper makes or breaks; if you don't like puns, you'll hate it
The Bottom Line:
Attraction doesn't
Take itself seriously
So it's very pun

Danger!  Wild Animatronic Animals!  Bad Puns!  It's the Disneyland Jungle Cruise!

I love a good pun.  So it should come as no surprise that one of my must do's on every visit to Disneyland is The World Famous Jungle Cruise.  (Okay, so just about everything is a must do, but this is one I really, really, really must do.)  It's cheesy and corny and oh so much fun.

The Jungle Cruise is one of the original attractions, opening when the park did on July 17, 1955.  It does show its age, but I really don't care.

The attraction is located directly to the left of the more popular Indiana Jones.  The premise is that you are going on a jungle safari visiting the exotic lands around the world.  The line for this attraction weaves through the an office of the River Expedition Company, a 1930's set company that will be taking us on our trip through the rivers of the world.  While you wait, music from the 30's plays, and you see props from the time period.  I can't remember the last time I saw this line longer than 15 minutes, although if it does get longer, you might wander upstairs for a while before actually boarding your boat.

Each boat holds about 30 people, and once you and your new best friends are seated, you are off on a 2 night and 5 day trip (or 10 minutes, whichever comes first) trip seeing what you can see from these rivers.  You start out in a rain forest, where you see tropical plants.  You can also see the building for the Indiana Jones Adventure, the only piece of the real world you'll see in the ride.  From there, you head to India and an elephant bathing pool, then it's off to Africa and a savannah scene featuring lions, zebras, and giraffes.  You survive a dangerous hippo pool before heading into headhunter territory, a dangerous place to be headed.  As you trasition to the Amazon and South America, you get to experience the wonderful, exciting, eighth wonder of the world - the back side of water!  That's right, you go in the space between Schweitzer Falls and the rocks behind it.  Finally, there's a piranha attack and a quick visit with Trader Sam (the head salesman of the jungle) before you hit to the most dangerous part of the journey, the return to civilization.

The looks of the ride are a mixed bag.  The plant life looks pretty amazing.  I don't pretend to know plants, but I always believe I am in a jungle.  It's probably not authentic, but I'm at Disneyland, not a museum or nature park.  The animals?  Well, let's just say that it is very obvious very early they are animatronic.  Even when we are supposedly in danger, it's obviously fake.

Because of the fake animals, I seriously doubt there will be anything here to scare young kids.  Even as a young kid, I remember thinking that nothing was real, although it didn't seem as obviously fake to me then as it does now.  The guide does shoot a gun full of blanks at one point, so that provides a brief loud noise.  Nothing else should bother them.

Each boat is piloted by a real guide, dubbed a skipper.  While the boat is obviously on a track, the skipper will turn the wheel to make it look like he is steering it.  He does control the speed of the boat, sometimes slowing it down so you can hear his narration.

The attraction was supposed to be serious, like a real nature expedition.  I'm not sure when it changed, but now it is played for laughs.  The script that the skippers use is filled with bad puns and corny jokes.  Try as I might, a few of them seeped into my description of the ride above, in fact.  Now there is supposedly a script that the guides must memorize and constantly use, but I never hear exactly the same jokes twice.  Either there are multiple scripts out there, or they allow the guides to come up with their own material.

Because of the jokes, this attraction lives or dies on the skipper.  I have had some that had me in stitches with their timing and delivery, even when I already know what is coming.  And there are others who can deliver the same material, and it is dead on arrival.  Of course, the audience also makes a difference.  The more people you have in your boat that appreciate the puns, the better time everyone seems to have.  And, yes, being a skipper on this attraction is my dream job, why do you ask?

While I do recommend doing this attraction during the day, you can ride it at night.  There are lights for the various scenes, and the boats have lights the skipper can turn on to spot light something.  It's not quite the same, but it's still very fun.

If you can't handle 10 minutes of bad jokes and puns, you will hate The Jungle Cruise.  But if you want some laughs and groaners, this attraction is definitely for you.

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