More Behind the Scenes Stories

Every Role a Starring Role – Behind the Scenes with the Jungle Cruise Horticulture Team

Betsy Villalobos

by , Senior Manager, External Communications, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products

Hi, I’m Betsy, manager of media relations at Disneyland Resort. Over the last five years, I have met some great people and worked on exciting projects as a part of the Disneyland Resort team. In the next few months, I hope to share some of that with you, including what it’s like to work here, how we’ve committed ourselves to being “green” and some of the ways that we take Disney magic into the surrounding community.

Little did I know when I was eight years old and riding the boat on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland park that, roughly 20 years later, I’d work at Disneyland Resort and get the chance to stand next to the tiger on the island of that attraction!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tag along with our talented and meticulous horticulture team early in the morning. We jumped in a boat and headed to the island so they could tell me all about what it takes to maintain the Jungle and the living ecosystem that it has become over the past 55 years.

One of the things I found most fascinating is that, over time, the trees have become a canopy, just like you would find in the Amazon. That canopy regulates the temperature, which allows plants that typically could not survive in Southern California to flourish and grow.

To find out how the Jungle is maintained day to day, check out this video featuring David Berrio and Abel Cazares of the horticulture team.


  • I love the Jungle Cruise! Wish this video was feature length 🙂


  • I have always wondered WHY stuff grows in the jungle boat ride that I can’t get to grow in my California back yard! LOVE this video! Please- MORE behind the scenes at Disneyland videos!!!!!!!!!!!

  • One of the main reasons why I love Disney is the attention to the plant life at the parks. I love gardening and always appreciate what they do to add magic through the use of plants. Part of my fun, is seeing what new plants are used, interesting plant designs and the use of color and texture. Love this!

  • Thank you Betsy Sanchez! I really love that you did this “Starring Role” on the Horticulture of DLR. When I visit, I do appreciate and photograph the plantings.
    In this video, Abel says they change the plants monthly. Does that mean they get tossed out, or does it mean they go back to the green-houses to be used again? I would think that most plants would be recyclable if they were moved in and out the “scene” on a schedule. (and i’m sure the cost savings would be significant)
    What books have been written about the inovative ways DLR has learned to use plants?

    • Alan – Sorry, it’s taken me a bit to get back to you and thank you for commenting. Here’s what I found out…Not every plant is changed out once a month. We like to have plants in various stages of the life cycle as that is representative of a “real” jungle. Some of our plants are in bud, some are in full bloom and some are at the end of their life cycle – those would be the ones that would be changed out and recycled.

  • I have been on that ride so many times (always love it) and neglected to think of all the work that goes into maintaining the plants! Thanks for doing this video… I have a whole new way of looking at the Jungle Cruise now : )

  • Its really cool how well the Jungle Cruise plants have developed. Today, it really does feel like a jungle!

  • This Jungle Cruise fanatic loved this video! You don’t get to see much backstage info about the World Famous Jungle Cruise.

  • One of my favorite rides in Disneyland. I love gardening and they do such a great job on this ride to make the surroundings look like it doesn’t need to be maintained. After all it is a jungle!

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