The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Park

Erin Glover

by , Director, Publicity, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Come with me into the wild jungles of Disneyland park for a tour of the world-famous Jungle Cruise! First I’d like to thank you, Disney Parks Blog readers, for contributing your ideas in the comments of the Paradise Pier edition of this series. Ian thought that this classic Disneyland park attraction would be the perfect place to “beheaded” and I agree! So … hello! My name is Erin and I will be your Disney Parks Blog skipper for the next several minutes as we explore the story behind this opening-day Disneyland attraction.


History tells that a Victorian house was built in this remote area of the jungle in 1911 to serve as the last outpost of civilization for explorers venturing into the jungle. The owner of the building saw the potential for a successful business and created the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. – a place for locals to post and receive mail, enjoy a civilized pot of tea and read the (usually three-week-old) newspaper.

Unfortunately, in the late 1920s the owner had to leave due to illness and the building remained vacant for several years. Then one day, a group of enterprising adventurers purchased the house to use as a base for their new jungle transportation company. The business did well enough that they were able to add on a second story and invest in the latest technologies, like shortwave radio.


But the Great Depression significantly impacted their business and they were barely able to stay … afloat. While other businesses throughout the jungle packed it in, these adventurers remained, delivering mail and freight to the few remaining outposts. Their luck soon turned around when a well-known Hollywood film director found their outpost and asked them to escort him down the river while he filmed the local wildlife. After he paid generous wage for their services, the owners realized they had a profitable tourism business on their hands – or rather, their docks. New skippers were hired, and new steamers purchased, to lead well-to-do travelers who would enjoy (and hopefully survive) these tours departing daily into the jungle.

Today the Jungle Cruise still welcomes tourists who are daring enough to brave the piranha-infested waters, head-hunting natives, twelve-inch (in some cases even one-foot) butterflies and (if they’re lucky) the backside of water. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour into the story of the Jungle Cruise. If you did, my name is Erin … if you didn’t, my name is Tyler.


  • What a cool story (Erin not Tyler)! I love how you had fun with the writing 🙂

    • Between you and me, Sarah, I always wanted to be a Jungle Cruise skipper 😉

  • Erin. Loved this post. I worked this attraction when this new queue debuted, so it brought back a lot of memories. I wish you’d gone a bit deeper into the story though, about how the skippers added on to the house as business expanded and the one corner of the queue that is ‘in danger of collapsing’ because a skipper drove his boat into it. All this was in a pamphlet that imagineering gave us when the ride reopened after the Indy revamp.

    Again, great stuff.

    • Thanks, Grant. To be honest, that was all in my original draft but it was becoming a bit too long! I think we may have to do a part two …

  • Great post Erin! I always enjoy these Storytelling posts 🙂

  • Wouldn’t it be great if Professor Jones came over to Skipper a boat once in awhile as he checks up on that 26 foot Python Snake out in the jungle. He specifically obtained that giant Newhouse Bear trap locked up in his generator shed to catch the snake with if spotted near his camp.

  • Corny? You mean this isn’t a real story? This could have been the true basis for the adventure. Sounds good to me. Most stories have basis and as far as I’m concerned, everything at DisneyWorld and Disneyland has factual basis. Now the footlong butterflies….

  • Haha, I DID enjoy this guide Erin! Can’t wait to be another guest traversing through the jungle with you.

    Hopefully no one will… lose their head over the excitement! 😀

    • Just another reason I love being the head blogger at Disneyland 😀

  • A lot of nostalgia for us in this ride. The humor of the guides is corny but clever and serves to help us get even more in the mood for just having fun. I hope they keep this ride and continue to update it, to make it even more enjoyable for years to come.

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