The Jungle Cruise, Pg. 3

BACKSTORY (July 17, 1955–Present): Welcome to photo page 3 for the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland. Picking up where we left off on Page 2, you'll find yourself at the Hippo Pool, then continuing on your journey until you arrive safely back at the dock where you can rejoin the guests in "civilization."

HIPPO POOL, 1950’s

“Don’t worry. The natives tell me that they are dangerous only when they wriggle their ears and blow bubbles.”

HIPPO POOL, 1960’s–1970’s


SKULL CANOE & NATIVES, 1950’s–1970’s

“There’s the natives arts and crafts. I guess you could call that ‘skull-putre.’ Quiet everyone. I speak a little of their language. Let me try to translate…you put your left foot in…you put your left foot out…your put your left foot in and you shake it all about…”

DIDJA’ KNOW DEPT.: The Jungle Cruise Natives have the body of Woody Strode, the man that fought Kirk Douglas in “Spartacus.” He was called down to Disneyland by Harper Goff and they made a mold of his body for all the natives, as well as the Indians on the Rivers of America in Frontireland.

SKULL CANOE & NATIVES, 1960’s–1970’s


“Oh, look out there on the left! We’re being attached by a war party. Quick, get down! If any of their poisoned spears lands in the boat, you’ll have to throw it back, because we’re not allowed to keep souvenirs.”


“There it is folks, the back side of water. Now I wouldn’t suggest trying this at home, kids. You could very easily hit your head on the faucet.”


“Justin proposed to me on Saturday, August 9th 2008. We were at Disneyland by 9am, and I had no clue it was going to be the most magical day of my life! It started off completely normal...we went on Space Mountain, had some breakfast in Tomorrowland, and then Justin told me he was able to arrange our own boat on the Jungle Cruise. He told me he had contacted the park and told them he was bringing a celebrity therefore we could receive special treatment (which I of course believed.) We walked to the exit of the ride, and Larry, our Jungle Cruise cast member escorted us on to our very own boat. I was BEYOND excited. Larry put his jungle cruise hat on Justin, and we began the tour. He stopped in front of every part of the ride and took pictures of us. Silly faces in front of the tiger. Us making trunks with our arms in front of the elephants, and so forth. Until we reached the famous “backside of water.”

Samantha and Justin

Samantha and Justin

Justin got on one knee, and proposed! It was the best moment of my life. Larry got on the loud speaker and said “by the powers vested in the Jungle Cruise, I now pronounce them husband and wife!” I was crying so hard, that I couldn’t see anything near me. When we rounded the corner, nearing the end of the ride, I saw a bunch of people cheering at the dock. It was my entire family and his entire family. I was so surprised that it just made my cry harder!

Samantha and Justin

We all spent the day at Disneyland. Dining at Blue Bayou for lunch, riding Space Mountain again, eating churros, and hanging out together. When we pulled out of the parking structure at the end of the day, Justin faked missing the 5 Freeway, and pulled in to the Grand Californian Hotel. He had arranged a room with rose petals and the whole nine yards. It was beyond amazing. He is so wonderful and I thank my lucky stars that I have met someone who knows and understands my passion of Disney!”

Many thanks to Samantha for sharing this fantastic story and the photos that go along with it.


Ever wonder what happened to the gorilla that used to be on this attracton? Alain Littaye from Disney and More was able to give some answers: A looong time ago, guests could watch two not-so-threatening but massive audio-animatronics gorillas standing and observing you, from the banks of the “rivers of Africa.” And then one day, the gorillas disappeared. 1977-78, was a time for a major refurbishment of the Jungle Cruise and legendary imagineer Mark Davis worked on its upgrade—which was after WDW had opened with their improved show. Part of Mark’s new show for Disneyland included the Gorilla Camp with the tents, overturned jeep, and the family of gorillas unpacking and turning the camp inside out. That's when these older previous tenant Gorillas vacated the Disneyland Jungle Cruise. But as they say at WDI, "good ideas never die.” Reemploying animation figures is common at Walt Disney imagineering; some of the AA’s from Nature’s Wonderland are now part of Big Thunder, and almost all America Sings audio-animatronics are in Splash Mountain. Approximately at the same time, in 1978, the imagineers were also working on another major refurbishment of another Disneyland attraction: the Matterhorn. New Bobsleds were being added along with new track, and better brakes for the splash down. It was also decided to put some show in the interior, mostly for the Skyway buckets that passed through the Matterhorn more slowly. The Bobsleds could see the new icy interiors and crystals as well as what is now a very famous Disneyland figure: the abominable snowman. Steve Kirk, imagineer extraordinaire who became the show producer-in-chief for Tokyo Disney Sea worked on the design of the three “abominable snowmen” in the attraction. The design of these Snow Men was based on Steve’s artwork (the one above) which was a composite of several different contemporary depictions and his own warped imagination. Sculptor Blaine Gibson sculpted the snowman mask, and the imagineering team with legend and Matterhorn creator Fred Joerger added the interior with the new Ice Crystals.

You've probably already guessed the end of the story: yes, the old Jungle Cruise audio-animatronic gorilla put on a new suit in 1978, and is now living a second life in the role of the Matterhorn’s abominable snowman. Transforming ex-gorillas into Snow Men had to have been purely for economic reasons and probably dictated the proportions of the final generation of the simian snow men. As there are three Abominable snow men in the ride, i couldn't tell you which ones exactly are the former Jungle Cruise gorillas, but next time you ride the Matterhorn bobsleds and see the abominable snow man, have a little thought for these old Jungle Cruise gorillas, who were some of the first Disneyland audio-animatronics. I’m sure they will be sensitive to this attention, and watch out for that third abominable snowman as he may be the real one. Some of the pictures are from Jason Surrell fantastic book “The Disney Mountains,”.


“As we near our home port…there’s old Trader Sam, head salesman of the jungle. Business has been shrinking lately, so this week only, Sam’s offering a two for one special, to cut his overhead, that’s two of his…for only one of yours! He’s just trying to get ahead in life. At least he knows where he is headed.”


“And now, we come to the most dangerous part of our journey…the return to civilization.”


“Well folks, I hope you all enjoyed your trip around the jungle. I had such a great time, I‘m going to go again.”