Is Disney’s Jungle Cruise Scary? Assessing the Scare Factor

Is Disney’s Jungle Cruise Scary?  Find Out Today!
Hippo” by Steven Miller licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you’re about to book a trip to Disney World, and you have plans to visit the Magic Kingdom, then you might be asking yourself the following question: is Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride scary?  Well, in this article, we’re going to answer that question by truly assessing this boat ride’s theming, speed, storyline, drops, and intensity for every age group.

How Scary Is Disney’s Jungle Cruise Ride?

Theming – Scary Level Zero: The theming for Jungle Cruise is noticeable as soon as you enter the ride queue. While waiting for the ride, you’ll see signage and displays filled with puns and jokes about the upcoming ride and the story.

Story – Scary Level One: The overall story about the Jungle Cruise ride really isn’t scary. We’re giving it a rating of “one” because a few animatronic animals are pretty realistic in appearance, and they may startle little kids who aren’t sure if they are real. While there are brief moments on the ride where the boat encounters “dangerous” animals, the threat is brief and quickly diffused by more jokes from the boat’s skipper.

Ride Speed – Scary Level Zero:  This is a smooth, slow ride. It can be a relaxing way to take a break from the Walt Disney World crowds in the main walking areas.

Drops – Scary Level Zero: There aren’t any drops, or even rapids during this ride.  There are a couple of twists and turns, but they don’t happen quickly. There is one darkened tunnel, but it’s not very long and you can still see in the dark area.

Age Appropriate: This ride is fun and appropriate for all ages. There are no age or height requirements to ride this ride.

Are you still curious if you and your family will enjoy this ride? Here are more details about what you can expect from Disney’s Jungle Cruise.

Disney’s Jungle Cruise Theming and Premise

How Scary is Disney World's Jungle Cruise?
Temple” by Eric Vaughn licensed under CC BY 2.0

The story behind Disney’s Jungle Cruise centers around the fictional Jungle Navigation Company. This company was created to serve as a cargo transport for adventurers and explorers, but they also began tourist river cruises as a way to bring more income.  The ride’s story is set in 1938.

As you enter the queue area, you’ll be surrounded by signs, posters, and displays that reference some of the storylines of the ride. There are several references to a lost Jungle Cruise tour crew. Be sure to read the signage; they’re filled with amusing puns and jokes. From a speaker, you will hear a radio broadcast from AWOL Airwaves. This broadcast will feature music and funny announcements about the river tours.

After winding your way through the queue, you’ll be greeted by your boat skipper and led onto a boat. On most boats, there is a slight step up and over to embark. Passengers in a wheelchair or ECV will be seated on one of the ADA-accessible boats. There are no bad seats on any of the boats; you get a good view of everything no matter where you are seated. Each boat in the Jungle Cruise fleet has a humorous name.

Now the real fun begins! A unique feature of the Jungle Cruise is that a Disney cast member (the Skipper) rides along with you, providing witty and entertaining commentary.  Each boat skipper provides a running narration of the river tour, filled with corny jokes and puns. While there is a standard script that the boat skippers follow, they do ad-lib a little bit. Pay attention so that you don’t miss any of the jokes! 

You can ride the Jungle Cruise multiple times, and you’ll have a slightly different experience each time depending on the cast member in the role of the skipper. These cast members do a great job of entertaining the guests and are fun to interact with.

Once the ride gets underway, you’ll pass through the Amazon, Congo, Nile, and Mekong Rivers. The boats travel at a slow pace, so it’s easy to get photos of your journey.  All of the jungle wildlife you will encounter are impressively lifelike animatronics.

In addition to the giant butterflies, bathing elephants, and other animals, you’ll eventually come upon a downed airplane near an abandoned explorer camp. The camp is being raided by gorillas, who are playing with all the items left in the camp. 

Soon after that, you’ll find out what happened to that lost Jungle Cruise tour mentioned while you were waiting to board your boat! The crew of The Kwango Kate is spotted trying to scramble up a tree while being chased by a rhino. A group of spotted hyenas sits nearby, laughing at them. You’ll probably laugh, too; it’s a funny scene. Soon after this, you’ll pass by the half-sunk boat “Kwango Kate”, which has been taken over by a group of chimpanzees.

At this point, your tour takes you past another waterfall, where you’ll encounter “dangerous” hippos in the water. Of course, there is no real danger because these are animatronic animals, but the skipper will warn everyone that the hippos are about to charge before scaring them off with a loud (fake) gunshot. 

The hippos are somewhat realistic in appearance, so if you have very small children with you, it might be a good idea to reassure them that this is all make-believe. Also, be aware that the noise used to scare the hippos away is sudden and very loud.

From here, the boat cruises through a tunnel and into the Mekong river, gliding past the ruins of an ancient temple. This part of the ride is usually a little bit darker, and the skipper doesn’t speak much during this part of the tour. There are snakes, baboons, crocodiles, and a tiger wandering among the ruins so it’s best to not make too much noise and attract their attention! 

This is part of the cruise that seems a little more ominous, although it’s not truly scary. Again, with some of the animals looking very realistic (especially the crocodile!), you might want to give reassurance to any toddlers in your family.

After emerging from the temple ruins, the boat returns to the Amazon and the last section of the cruise. You’ll pass by a group of adorable elephants that may or may not spray water at the boat. To end the tour on a humorous note, you’ll see the Jungle Navigation Company’s Lost and Found hut, which indigenous South American entrepreneur “Trader Sam” has attempted to turn into a gift shop selling the lost items. Trader Sam is nowhere to be found, however, and his shop is now overtaken by a group of silly monkeys.

Disney’s Jungle Cruise Ride Speed

Disney’s Jungle Cruise is a slow, relaxing ride. The ride never moves very fast, and the skippers do slow it down at some points so everyone gets a good view of the surroundings. 

Even though it is technically a boat ride, the boats aren’t actually floating in the water. They glide along an underwater track. Because they’re on a fixed track the skippers don’t actually steer the boats, but they do have the ability to control the speed and start or stop the boats. 

Disney’s Jungle Cruise Drops and Intensity

This ride is very smooth and easy going! There are no drops or even fast-moving river currents. Since the boats are on submerged tracks, they remain very steady throughout the ride. The boats do pass through a darkened tunnel just before the temple ruins, but it is brief and you won’t be in total darkness. 


So, is Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride scary?  Well, hopefully you’ve realized by now that the Jungle Cruise is a fun ride that is popular with children and adults. This is an old school, classic Disney attraction, and what’s great is that the ride will keep you laughing so much throughout its eight to ten minute running time that you will be too disarmed by the jokes to be filled with fear.  

Now, with that said, some very small children may need reassurance that the animals are not real and that they won’t come near the boats, but the laughs far outweigh any scary moments.

The Disney cast members (“skippers”) are the true stars of this attraction. All of the skippers do an outstanding job at delivering the jokes and adding their personal touches to the standard script while operating the ride. It’s their personalities that make this ride an enjoyable and unique experience each time. They also pay attention to all safety matters, from potential “hippo attacks”, to making sure the ride operates properly.

This ride usually has the longest lines in the middle of the afternoon and the shortest line in the early morning or when the fireworks shows are happening. Riding Jungle Cruise towards the evening, either at dusk or after dark, adds a little bit of a mysterious mood to the ride. 

The queue area for the Jungle Cruise has ceiling fans creating a breeze, but in the hot Summer months, it still feels very humid while you’re waiting to board the boats.  There are no age or height requirements for this ride, and visitors in wheelchairs or ECVs can board an ADA-accessible boat without having to leave their chairs/vehicles.

If you’re wanting to expand your Jungle Cruise experience, you can have lunch or dinner at the Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen restaurant, located right next to the ride. This themed sit-down restaurant is where the skippers of the Jungle Navigation Company eat their meals, and the name of the menu items refer back to some of the standard jokes you’ll hear on the Jungle Cruise ride.

If you visit Walt Disney World during the months of November and December, the Jungle Cruise is transformed into the “Jingle Cruise,” with a fun holiday theme. Even the names of the boats are changed to fit the theme, and the skippers will be telling seasonal jokes.

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