Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sailing Through Sundays on The JC

Welcome to yet another regular weekly Daveland Blog feature: posts specializing in The Jungle Cruise every Sunday. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the skippers that have made this possible: Amazon Belle (aka Matt), USC Tuba, and last, but definitely not least is Tech Skip, who really gave me a TON o’ material. OK Jungle Cruisers, shall we begin? First, let’s start with a map of how the attraction looks today (courtesy Tech Skip):

Techskip: “The Jungle Cruise is the home of the worst jokes in California and a must-do for die-hard fans of traditional Disneyland. Walt wanted the attraction to be a boat ride with live animals, but complications (the largest being the fact that most animals nap during the day) prevented this from happening. Instead Disney turned to the Disney studio’s special effects artists, most notably Robert Mattey. A 1957 Popular Mechanics article read, ‘Each hippo has a water motor to wiggle its ears. Seven jets in this motor shoot streams of water against a small turbine. The shaft from the turbine connects to rods running to the moveable's cars much the same as an auto crankshaft connects to rods running to pistons.’” Thought it was interesting. Here’s the url:

And for a peak at what the “animals” looked like before they were placed in the attraction, here are some shots from January 1955 of the Bull Elephant model, sculpted by Chris Mueller. These photos were taken in Burbank. At 8'6" in height, this model took 2.5 tons of clay to make.

This shot is courtesy Tech Skip:

Here’s one of Walt with a Rhino from January 1963, when the attraction was revamped and upgraded.

And now, on with the cruise! TECH SKIP: Ahhh my beloved Boathouse! The memories. Up above you can barely see the bird cage, Zoie, that's what we called her. She got used to some of us and would actually respond to our calls. Beautiful bird...usually only out during summer. That room is often referred to as "The Skipper's Lounge" and there are a lot of mementos in there. Likewise beneath it the "Ticket Office" has many many souvenirs. The newer cast probably doesn't realize what's there, take an old Skip and we're liable to cry as we pick up various little treasures and tell you all about who donated it! That tradition carries over to the Boathouse as a whole, for a lot of us it was a fitting way to say goodbye. AMAZON BELLE: The new boat house was constructed in 1994 to replace the old grass thatched queue designed by Marc Davis in 1961, that was designed to replace, what else, but, a boat house. Interesting to note that at Disneyland there are no carnival barkers (unless you count Jose’s cousin out in front of the Tiki Room... funny that they shared the same voice... strong genes). The elevated Jungle Cruise sign along with the sounds of 1930's radio coming from inside is enough to reach out and grab a Guests attention. Live birds were/are placed inside the cage to give that "lived in" feeling. "The Greeter" position (a term used now in retail stores across the nation) was officially located at the entrance. The greeter back in 1986, when this skipper started, was responsible for welcoming Guests to the Jungle Cruise, with some eye contact, a warm smile and verbal acknowledgment. But we also had to explain important information such as, "You will need to finish the Jungle Julep before boarding the boats." "No smoking on the boats" and Dave's favorite, "You may park your stroller over here." Those older days you had to tell them to remove an 'E' ticket from their ticket books, let me give you the first line and let's here it from you old timers & has beens, "Take out an E Ticket as in Euripides...". USC TUBA: Ladies and gentleman may I have your attention please...due to circumstances beyond our control, they Jungle Cruise will…remain open. I repeat the Jungle Cruise will…remain open. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our skipper.


TECH SKIP: HAHAHAHA it's the Hornbill. You know he actually used to be out in the Jungle. He was the bird in the center with all the crocs snapping at him. Luckily someone thought it would be a nice addition and saved him when they built Indy over his old roost. There's even a story in the Survival Guide about him. "We still have not been able to get rid of that darned Hornbill that started roosting above the stairway. I told Willis not to feed it." Also further on there was a more scientific description. In the newer guide it was a bit more fun "Upon my return I was informed of a rather large bird that had nested in the upper reaches of the boathouse. It’s a Hornbill; no clue why it chose us as it’s new roommates. It’s loud, obnoxious, and constantly annoying… gee it’ll fit right in. I know the boathouse has plenty of geckos, snakes, spiders and rats… this Hornbill might be a blessing in disguise." AMAZON BELLE: A rare species of African hornbill. Once a familiar show scene found just beyond the rainforest and the Toucans. The hornbill and crocodiles were added to the Jungle Cruise in 1976 by our beloved Marc Davis. The scene was removed to make way for large Indian temple. And just like the real world, the animals were forced out of their natural habitats to co-exist with man. Lucky for us this one doesn't eat and doesn't digest. Marc's humor first came to the Jungle Cruise in 1964. According to Imagineer and author Randy Bright, "This comic touch would be applied to a number of Disneyland attractions in the future, as a 'Davis signature" (Bright, 1987, p.160). Fortunate for us Marc re-visited the Jungle Cruise in 1976. The hornbill and croc scene delivery was short. "Over there is a rare species of hornbill... about to become a little more rare." But for some there was always room for an SOP approved adlib... your turn. USC TUBA: A hornbill of a different color!

TECH SKIP: The Adventureland sign. I've had a lot of people ask me where my favorite spot in the Jungle was. There were 3. One of them was next to the python at the end. There was a gap in the bamboo, and you could see the Adventureland sign. For me it was that comforting feeling of knowing you were back. If it was a bad boat... who cares, it's over. If it was a good boat... don't blow the ending! Also if we were the rescue boat then it was a very welcome sign, knowing that despite whatever just happened it was finally over! I also remember "sleeping" on the cot in the infirmary. Back then we believed in having a more interactive queue if we were on a break! I scared a few people who thought I was an AA! AMAZON BELLE: Sick of our jokes? Visit the infirmary! Lots to look at and see. Great example of theming. USC TUBA: THE WIZARD WILL SEE YOU NOW!!

Anonymous: “The Prime Minister of Adventureland, Professor Harper Goff, would like to remind Guests that there are approximately 2,700 different species of snakes around the world. Out of these 2,700 species of snakes, about 375 are considered to be poisonous and deadly. Here on the Jungle Cruise we are pleased to tell you that we have only 108 of these poisonous snakes, AND they are located in the grass thatching above your heads. Professor Goff would also like to remind visiting Guests that these snakes do not attack moving bodies. To that end, if the person in front of you steps forward, please step forward. If the person in front of you stops (pause), please jog in place. Thank you and enjoy your trip aboard the Jungle Cruise.”

That’s it for today, folks! See more vintage (and current) Jungle Cruise photos on my regular website.


Thufer said...

outstanding. really good stuff!

Major Pepperidge said...

Great post with lots of interesting info. And of course it's always great to hear from the folks that actually worked on the attraction over the years!

TokyoMagic! said...

I forgot about those Jungle Juleps! They were sold across the way at "Sunkist, I Presume" (now the Bengal Barbeque.)

Chiana said...

Beautiful - thanks guys :)