Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sailing Through Sundays (1 day early!) on The JC: The Rain Forest & Ancient Shrine, Pt. 1

Since tomorrow is going to be a special post, my regularly scheduled JC Sunday blog entry is being published one day early.

Ah, the giant butterflies of the rainforest. TECH SKIP: Those are the new ones. Plasticus Mechanicus Fiberglassica. USC TUBA: There are a couple of the native species scientific name plasticus animatronicus. They are only seen here at Disneyland...and Wal Mart for 12.99. AMAZON BELLE: “As we leave the last outpost of civilization we travel deep into the Irrawaddy River of Asia…” The 1985 spiel gives no mention to the beautiful butterflies found in this photo. However, we were to mention that “animal and plant life grow in abundance here.” However, these three butterflies have never grown any larger nor have they ever reproduced which goes to show you…those skippers are full of lies. But since these are our first animated figures found in the jungle then it is best to mention that according to the Facts & Figures of 1986, “Total number of animated figures-active, 139. Total number of animated figures-static, 2.” Before the boats were themed around the skipper the only differentiation between them was found in their colors (matching stripes and seat cushions). As to when the themed boats started arriving on the river, it was before I left in 1993. There were only two or three of them at that time. I believe they were designed by Show Quality Services (SQS) and Kim Irvine was the lead Imagineer on them.

TECH SKIP: When did they get the red one? Another innovation from Mr Evans was to plant Walnut trees upside down to produce "vines". He also traveled extensively collecting samples. There are stories of him sewing seeds and saplings into the cuffs of his shirt or hem of his pants to smuggle past Customs. They used to tell that story a lot on the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour.AMAZON BELLE: “In fact, we have counted over 100 different variety of bromeliads in this region.” This photo captures the deep rich colors found aboard the Jungle Cruise. We all know the stories of how Bill Evans saved trees bound for destruction along the California I-5 construction. Bill Evans was a landscape genius. How can you grow tropical & sub tropical plants in the desert of Southern California (or snows of Japan, etc.)? On Manhattan (the island mass-north), up the hill, behind the Water Buffalo & Python Scene you will find a large airplane propeller surrounded by gas burners. This would circulate warm air through the jungle at night and is the same device used in orchards to keep them from freezing. Any one know the name of these machines?

TECH SKIP: Bob... really miss when he was across from Ganesha, up on that hill he's extremely hard to see. Bob, the original brass monkey, that solid gold oldie who really knows rock. USC TUBA: Hey look it’s Bob. Bob’s a brass monkey, oh....that funky monkey. AMAZON BELLE: “Here are the remains of an ancient Cambodian Shrine. It was built many centuries ago by some ancient Cambodian Shriners.” The monkey god is mentioned in Thurl Ravencroft’s narration of the Jungle Cruise, found on side B of the Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room album (CD). This show scene was altered to what we see in this picture when the addition of Indiana Jones came to Adventureland. A large spider used to guard this shrine and was mentioned in our spiels. For awhile, one could find a box of scrimshaw tools, decaying due to the Jungle humidity, as it lay in wait for its owner Bos’n Steve to return and pick it up. This Bos’n Steve tale is a long story that may have to have its own blog some day. For those who remember, “Old Smiley” was found just before this show scene. Anyone want to add an Old Smiley joke?

Just for reference, here are some vintage shots of Bob, showing the spider that Amazon mentions; shot one is from 1965, shot two from 1968:

TECH SKIP: You can see the cami netting in the center of the picture. I remember when it was a sideways column that broke and sank, almost derailed a boat and took several maintenance guys to haul out of the water and into a boat. Affectionately called it the “Aquarium Piece.” USC TUBA: And now, we pass under Walt Disney’s first attempt at the Monorail. AMAZON BELLE: “Through this archway, we enter the remains of a sunken city, now almost totally reclaimed by the jungle.” The set designers of the jungle cruise did some amazing work here. Each column has details of Indian elephants in them as a foreshadowing of Ganesha and elephant bathing pool that lay ahead. What was interesting to me was how the jungle would begin to truly reclaim the city. Disney gardeners really had to work hard to keep it looking like a jungle while still allowing the show elements to be seen. This photo shows how the large columns themselves acted as planters. Marc Davis returned to the sunken city and restaged it as part of the 1976 expansion mentioned earlier. He did an incredible job of creating layers of depth and forced perspective.

Here’s a 1968 view of the same area:

Any other JC Skippers that would like to contribute material can email me at

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