Jungle Cruise Disney World ride review
The Jungle Cruise, nestled inside Adventure Land at the edge of Disney’s Magic Kingdom park, is a classic attraction. The idea for the classic attraction was born in the mid 1950’s and has been a hit ever since. While it’s not the most thrilling or visually stimulating ride at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, it holds appeal for a lot of different age groups and demographics.
It’s one of the few rides that Guests in wheelchairs don’t have to transfer out of – many attractions claim to be handicapped accessible but often require the Guest to be able transfer from the wheelchair to the ride vehicle – the Jungle Cruise is able to allow Guests to stay in their wheelchairs but still have the pleasure of experiencing a moving attraction. It also is accessible for children of any age, any height and many languages, including American Sign Language.
Upon entering Adventure Land from Main Street (where Cinderella’s Castle is located), you will find yourself walking through a jungle themed area. A strong smell of grass washes over Guests as they enter this land, and many consider this part of the experience. Unfortunately, many also find the scent overwhelming and migraine inducing. Either way, this smell can be avoided if Guests enter from the back side of Adventure Land (near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride), which is connected to Frontier Land.
If you do end up walking in the main entrance and enjoying (or enduring) the scent, you will be greeted first with lovely tropical plants that lead to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse before making your way past and down a hill to the left into the queue for the Jungle Cruise attraction.
The ride is meant to look a bit run down and put together by hand, as if you’ve stumbled across an expedition in the wild jungle. The queue line is mostly covered from the sun and does have large fans, but it is still outside. If you have one of those portable fans that also spray water, you’ll probably want to bring it along for the wait. Tight quarters in the Florida heat can often mean that even if it is well-circulated, it’s still stuffy and humid.
In addition to environmental discomfort, isn’t much to do in the queue line either. Aside from a few well-themed crates, clever signs and allusions to a grander story, it’s a pretty bare queue. You will probably want to bring a phone to play a game on, especially if you have restless children. As you progress through the line, you’ll see Cast Members who work there, deemed “skippers,” who will direct you with phrases that will even get the dads in your group to groan. As you approach the end of the line, you’ll get sectioned off into another line and boarded onto a boat.
The boats in the Jungle Cruise are all real boats and while there are some areas that have bumpers, it does not have a track. In addition, the water can get up to 102 inches or 260 centimeters (over eight feet!). Because these are real boats and not simply cars on a track, the Cast Members are extensively trained in safety and will enforce it. Everyone must be sitting on their “back pockets” with their appendages inside the boat at all times.
They will stop the boat and call you out on it if you don’t. I have ridden this attraction over fifty times and I can personally attest that it’s done for safety. I have seen Guests almost get their arms crushed because they dangle them out of the boats. For a seven-year-old child, the weight of the boat against the dock is enough to break bones. Just be aware of your children and know that if someone mentions something, it’s for your own safety.
Fast Pass+ Reservation
Whether you should use a Fast Pass+ reservation for this ride will depend entirely upon your preferences. If you prefer thrill rides, save them for the coasters. If you prefer character meet-and-greets, save them for Mickey and the princesses; however, if you prefer classic attractions and want something that is fun for the entire family, Jungle Cruise should be at the top of your list.
Typically, the wait for this attraction isn’t outrageously long but it can get to be over an hour on a busy day. The queue line isn’t terribly exciting, and the wait is outside so there are better rides that provide more entertainment (and air-conditioning!) for your wait. Also, because this attraction is on the water, there are inevitably more mosquitos and humidity than in the rest of the park. It gets sticky and uncomfortable if you have to wait longer than half an hour. For that reason alone, I would suggest using a Fast Pass+ Reservation on this attraction if you don’t need it for the higher demand rides.
If it’s a nice day and you go in the morning or evening, a Fast Pass+ Reservation probably isn’t needed; however, if you aren’t able to make it during those perfect conditions, a Fast Pass+ Reservation is going to make the experience much more pleasant. It should be noted that it does occasionally close early on event days like Halloween parties and After-Hours events so getting there in the morning is always the best bet if you don’t want to use a Fast Pass+ Reservation. Also, it is an entirely outdoor, water attraction so if there is any lightening in a certain radius, it will be shut down. Safety first!
One unfortunate feature of this attraction is how Fast Pass+ Reservation Guests are handled. All standby Guests enter one queue line while Guests who have Fast Pass+ Reservations enter another. This is typical for Walt Disney World Resort; however, eventually, the two lines converge.
Thankfully, a Cast Member directs the convergence, but it can still make for some nasty stares when a Fast Pass+ Guest walks right in front of a Guest who has been waiting there for an hour. Ideally, the attraction would feature two entirely different lines that do not intersect like many other attractions but for now, you might have to avoid eye contact with some exasperated parents who didn’t choose to secure a Fast Pass+ Reservation for the Jungle Cruise.
Once you decide if you’re going to use a Fast Pass+ Reservation on the Jungle Cruise, you can finally enjoy and immerse yourself into the story of the Jungle Cruise. Guests are taken on a boat tour of the Nile River and quickly they find out that things don’t exactly go as planned. The skipper leading your expedition will point out animals, locations and other interesting facts but the best part is undoubtedly the monologue each Cast Member prepares.
The skippers dive head first into puns, “dad” jokes and other dry witticisms. Each skipper has a unique slant to the story and they will perform their own curated jokes along with the tried and true classics. Along the ride, you’ll see local “headhunters,” camps that have been wrecked by animatronic animals and even their local celebrity, the Rock!
In addition to the corny humor, if you pay close attention, there is a tale to be unearthed in the attraction. The attraction wasn’t originally based on a Disney film, so it was given a backstory. The atmosphere and props used suggest that it was set in the late 1920’s. It is expedition based and it features a clash between the “modern” world and that of the natives in the Nile River area.
“Modern” men find there is a steep learning curve between the wild animals and crashed planes to hostile natives and ancient tradition. It’s based loosely on the past but mostly uses the past as a jumping off point for the rest of the narrative. For a more thorough history of this attraction, click here.
Popular Disney designers and engineers (referred to as Imagineers by the Walt Disney World Company) are mentioned in the story and via props so any Disney history buff is sure to love this attraction. There are lots of hidden Mickeys (more on those here) and each detail was considered before opening the attraction. Even if you’re not one of the people who is super knowledgeable about Disney history (often affectionally referred to as Disnerds), it is still an enjoyable attraction and excellent for the entire family to enjoy.
Most children will probably not understand the jokes but it’s a nice rest for ten minutes with plenty for them to look at. Walt Disney wanted his parks to be enjoyable for both old and young Guests and this attraction exemplifies this beautifully. The older Guests will appreciate the wry humor and the younger Guests are likely to enjoy the waterfalls, giant animals and many other sights along the way.
In addition, there is no height requirement, making it an ideal choice for Guests looking at attractions in Disney World for toddlers. There are no drops or jump scares to startle young children. There also aren’t any harsh or jerky movements to scare Guests; however, there is one section of the tour that goes through an ancient tunnel.
The tunnel is dark but not pitch black. There are a few illuminated sections featuring golden statues but it’s generally uneventful. If nothing else, it’s one minute of cool air where Guests can actually look around at their surroundings and check in with their youngsters before emerging from the other side of the tunnel with more high energy jokes. If you want more details about accessibility, this is a great place to start.
Aside from any pictures you take yourself or recordings of your favorite jokes, the options to commemorate your visit to this attraction are not abundant. A few pieces of merchandise are sold in the nearby Agrabah Bazaar but compared to the surrounding rides, the pickings are slim. Fortunately, the company has recently started stationing a PhotoPass Photographer outside the ride.
The photographer typically has a sign Guests can hold that features the name of the attraction and will pose Guests in front of the ride queue, which is probably the best place to get a themed photo anyway. They are obliging enough to take it with your personal camera or with their very nice professional cameras and link it to a My Disney Experience PhotoPass account. More on Walt Disney World’s PhotoPass Service can be found here.
In general, this ride is a great option for the entire family. It features humor that isn’t inappropriate but is witty enough that the adults will love it (with a few simpler jokes thrown in for the kiddos). It is an enjoyable ten-minute ride where Guests can get a short reprieve from the unconventional amounts of walking Walt Disney World requires. It is accessible for any age and disability and it features ideas directly from Walt Disney.
In addition, if you’re planning to visit during the holidays, it makes the transition from the Jungle Cruise to the Jingle Cruise! It features new scenery, new costumes, new boats and best of all, new jokes. Because Cast Members are in charge of giving the tour, they have the luxury of changing the theming and do so to reflect the season.
This brings us to another fantastic aspect of the attraction: humans! As odd as this may seem, very few attractions feature actual humans anymore! Most feature screens or animatronics but there is nothing like having a living, breathing Cast Member with a personal sense of humor to provide a unique experience every time.
Overall, I give this attraction a rating of four out of five stars. If the queue line was airconditioned or even featured interactive elements, it would receive five stars.
But if you’re still trying to decide if this attraction warrants a visit for your vacation, take a look at my list of reasons why it’s one of the best rides at Disney World:
- Walt Disney himself worked on this ride and was present for the original opening.
- It is one of the few rides that wasn’t based on a Disney film and has a full backstory.
- It is ten minutes of sitting, which can be welcome in the Florida heat!
- All heights and ages are allowed on this attraction.
- It is entirely handicapped accessible and Guests can stay in his or her wheelchair.
- It features humans, which means every cruise will be different.
- During the holiday season it transitions from Jungle Cruise to Jingle Cruise.
- The humor is sure to elicit groans and inspire inside jokes for the rest of the trip.
- It’s close to a lot of other larger attractions so if you’re waiting for a FastPass+ Reservation on Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a good way to spend some time without wasting it.
- The Jungle Cruise sits across from arguably the best treat in Walt Disney World Resort – Dolewhip!
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