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Five Things to Know About the Jungle Cruise

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Every trip to Walt Disney World should include a couple classic attractions. Peter Pan, it’s a small world, and of course, the Jungle Cruise. If you’re a first-timer to WDW, you’ll want to be sure to add the Jungle Cruise to your itinerary – you won’t be sorry you did! And if you’ve ridden before, you already know why you need to sail again. Here are five things you should know about this classic pun-tastic ride – including why you should plan to be sent up the river on your next trip.

1. A river runs through it.

The full name of the attraction was originally the Jungle RIVER Cruise. Because you’re cruising down a river (four rivers actually, but we’ll get to that), not just through the jungle. It still bears that same name at Disneyland Hong Kong. But most of us continue to call it the Jungle Cruise, because who has time these days for an extra two syllables? I shore don’t.

Entrance sign to the Jungle Cruise, with a birdcage and other exotic items glimpsed through the windows of the apartment above the sign.
(photo by Brandon Glover)

2. You gotta go with the flow.

The original version at Disneyland was inspired by Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures films and the classic movie, “The African Queen.” When it was first imagined, the attraction was way more serious than today – no jokes or puns at all. Walt wanted it to be more like Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom. He wanted live animals throughout the attraction before learning that wasn’t the best idea. When the Walt Disney World version opened on October 1, 1971, it was an instant hit.

As time passed, the Jungle Cruise became more about the skipper’s pun-filled narration and visual humor of the scenes. The freedom of the skippers to spin their own spiels while sticking loosely to a script means that you’ll never have exactly the same ride twice. And because the ride has been able to retain much of its vintage charm over the years, the Jungle Cruise remains a classic Disney attraction.

In January 2021, Disney made the announcement that the ride would be updated. New characters, new scenes, more humor, and more wildlife would be added. There was a sense that some of the scenes had become dated and out of step with the times. Scenes of the “headhunter” party and the Trader Sam “head salesman” – portraying negative representations of native peoples – would be eliminated. The experience would, as Bob Iger tweeted, “reflect, not only the best in storytelling, but also the values and rich diversity of our world.”

Seen through the side of a Jungle Cruise boat with the railing and canopy framing the picture are a partially sunken boat in the foreground and a yawning hippo in the background.

Updates at WDW were completed in August 2021 including:

  • a new skipper’s office in the queue
  • trapped skippers up the pole menaced by a rhino
  • a sunken boat near the hippos
  • chimps on the wrecked boat
  • and animatronic characters added to Trader Sam’s.

Worth noting: Back in 2013, the Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise received one of the park’s first holiday overlays. The “Jingle Cruise” has holiday-themed jokes and Christmas decor courtesy of homesick skippers. This festive overlay is offered during the Disney Christmas season starting in November and ending shortly after New Year’s Day. Our family had a holly jolly time when we experienced it!

Trader's hut on the "Jingle Cruise", with Christmas tree on the porch and holiday lights wrapped around the railings.

In 2015, the Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen restaurant opened in Adventureland further expanding the Jungle Cruise’s mythology. Here, the skippers are your servers, and the menu reflects flavors from all the parts of the world featured in the Jungle Cruise, as well as a few of the puns! How a-boat that?

3. You visit four rivers until you “Congo” no further.

As you probably know, the ride is an outdoor boat tour which Disney describes as, “a 10- minute, 10,000-mile journey that you won’t soon forget!” During your ride, you’ll glide through the Amazon in South America, the African Congo, the Egyptian Nile, and the east Asian Mekong River.

Your skipper pilots you safely through “the world’s most treacherous waters,” all the while delivering a pun-filled narration. You’ll come across scene after scene of audio-animatronic wildlife, visit a mysterious temple, and – pay attention here – the eighth wonder of the world! As you pass under the waterfall (insert famous “backside of water” joke here) and a couple of spraying fountains, you may get a little … damp.

An animatronic elephant sits on a rock, spraying water from his trunk as water cascades down the rocks in the background.

4. Waiting can be an “oar-deal,” but you won’t get seasick.

No need to pack your Dramamine; the Jungle Cruise is a gentle, slow-moving boat ride. While there’s a lot of water involved, the depth is never much greater than three feet. We think it’s the perfect family attraction as it truly offers something for everybody. As such, the Jungle Cruise has retained its status as a must-do ride when visiting WDW. Lines can get really long and standby wait times often exceed 60 minutes, especially during the middle of the day.


While the main part of the queue is covered, it’s not enclosed, and those waiting in the extended queue may be exposed to the elements. The mid-day sun can become an issue for some. If you can’t ride Jungle Cruise when Adventureland opens or near closing time, visit a bathroom before you get in line and bring along a refreshing beverage and the SPF of your choice.

A chalkboard sign in the queue features the "Crew Mess" lunch menu, with entrees such as Fricasse of Giant Stag Beetle, all described as "chicken-esque" or "has a chicken flavor"

Once under cover, you’ll quickly see that the queue itself is one of the most richly themed at WDW. Be sure to read all the signage and take note of all the props. You’ll discover that the visual humor and pun-tastic narration of the Cruise begins before you even board the boat! As they say, “getting there is half the pun” – er, I mean “fun.”

5. The nuts and bolts.

You’ll board your exciting ride from the dock in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom. It’s next to the Swiss Family Treehouse and across from The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Lightning Lanes are available for this ride through Genie+ which can help you avoid the long lines and cut down on your wait.

While the Jungle Cruise boats are covered, certain weather conditions may result in the attraction’s closure.

An empty jungle cruise boat, the Zamesi Zelda, sits even with the dock, waiting for passengers

Each Jungle Cruise boat accommodates around 30 guests. To board, guests must step over a moderate-height wall onto a bench and then down a moderate step. Cast Members usually lend a hand to help guests step from the dock and into the boat, as well as to disembark. Guests may remain in a wheelchair/ECV.

Bench seats line the interior perimeter of the boat with some seating provided in the middle. There are no safety restraints due to the slow-moving nature of these ride vehicles. There are no health and safety advisories for the Jungle Cruise and there is no height requirement to ride.

The bottom line.

The Jungle Cruise is the perfect ride for those who want a classic Disney attraction laced with puns that make even Dad groan. Some say it’s even better at night. Whenever you ride, the Jungle crews will ensure your Jungle Cruise is simply “pun-derful.”

What’s your take on Jungle Cruise? Must-do or skip it? Let us know in the comments.


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Bob Jacobs

Bob Jacobs lives in Wisconsin where he retired as Editorial Director for a well-known catalog company. He and his wife Cristie have four children, seven grandchildren and a cocker spaniel named Penny the Dog. They’ve visited Walt Disney World regularly since 1992.

6 thoughts on “Five Things to Know About the Jungle Cruise

  • I love this attraction at night. I’ve taken it I don’t know how many times but now that I’ve started taking it at night I love it again. Also very handy because getting a lightning lane later in the evening means you can turn a few others before you book it with genie+

    • Great suggestion! and yes, the nighttime trip is LOTS of fun! Thanks for sharing!

    • After seeing your comment, I did a little online “research” and read that Albert was replaced by his sister, Skipper Missy, at WDW. But to be totally honest, I have to admit that this past December I don’t even remember hearing ANYTHING as we waited in line. Anybody have any recent info?

  • It is helpful to know that this attraction, despite its age, remains quite popular. I recommend it and would suggest further that riders spring for Genie+ Lightning Lanes to book a ride time and avoid a surprisingly long wait.

    • Thanks for your suggestion. Our last visit, we were in line as the wait times went from 30 to 40 and finally 60 minutes. We were surprised, indeed!


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