Imagineering Awesome: Jungle Book Cruise

This post is part of the Imagineering Awesome series

This is the ninth post in the Imagineering Awesome series so if you’ve missed any of the previous posts, click on the link at right. It will open in a new window, so you won’t miss today’s really fun imagined attraction.

Today’s exciting new attraction(s) comes to us from Safari Mike, who blogs at Jambo Everyone. He’s pretty much THE Animal Kingdom expert, so I expected nothing less than an amazing, mind-blowing Animal Kingdom Park attraction … and boy, did we get it!


I love armchair imagineering. I really do. I love doing it on my blog and when I’m lucky enough to get asked on podcasts, I love doing it there too. So, when I was asked if I wanted to participate in this series on Mouse on the Mind, I jumped at the chance. And being an Animal Kingdom nut, I just had to go there with this piece.

It seems to me there are two things missing at the Animal Kingdom, and that’s a good old fashioned boat ride like Pirates of the Caribbean, and a good old fashioned dark ride like the Haunted Mansion. So why not do both in one attraction. As you may have heard, Disney is apparently developing a water-based omnimover. That is, a boat ride that continuously moves through the attraction much like Haunted Mansion or Spaceship Earth. The vehicles themselves are connected thereby preventing the head jerking bumps and backups you sometimes get in straight up boat rides like Its a Small World.

So what Disney movie to use? There are plenty of great animal-based Disney movies – Lion King, Bambi, Finding Nemo, Tarzan, A Bug’s Life –  all of which deliver a great conservation message. But my choice is the Jungle Book. The Jungle Book can easily be adapted to a water-based ride. In fact, much of the movie takes place along a river.

And these characters have had a history in the Park: Journey into the Jungle Book opened with the Park in April 1998. Baloo and King Louie are usually available for meet and greets and are popular, too. Perhaps most importantly though is that the Jungle Book was the last animated movie that Walt Disney himself was involved with as he died during its production.

Jungle Book meet

So, kids, I give you the Jungle Book Cruise.

My attraction would be built near Flights of Wonder as there is plenty of open space there. This, of course, would expand out Anandapur, but the movie’s locale fits easily into this faux Indian setting. The facade of my attraction would be King Louie’s ruins. These broken stone structures in the middle of Asian jungle are not unlike the Maharajah Jungle Trek and fit easily into the theme and look of the area.

Before you actually get into the attraction, a side path would lead to meet and greets. With the upcoming loss of Camp Minnie Mickey, we will need an area to see Baloo and Louie, and this would be perfect. When Journey into the Jungle Book was located at Theater in the Wild, you would often have King Louie’s monkeys causing mischief along the path to Discovery Island, trying to entice guests to go see the show. I would bring those monkeys back for meet and greets and general mayhem. They would be an awful lot of fun. Maybe there could be a rare sighting of Mowgli and Colonel Hathi, as well.

Jungle Book characters

The queue for the attraction itself would be important. In today’s Disney World, interactive queues are all the rage. So I will make one, but there will no video screens or games. It seems to me that one of the best interactive queues would simply be having animal exhibits. So amongst the ruins that are being reclaimed by the jungle, I would put in exhibits for smaller, but no less important, critters of the Asian rain forest.As the ruins are being overgrown, little things like lizards, snakes and spiders would be moving in.

Some examples would include the green snake and the red tailed rat snake. Both of these reptiles are fairly commonly found in zoos and make great exhibits. A good creepy animal would be a hunstman’s spider. Many kinds of these spiders live in Asia. They are huge and hairy and looking at them makes your skin crawl. Perhaps there could be a submerged section of the ruins that is now home to the unusual snake-necked turtle. And I wouldn’t leave mammals out, either. Prevost squirrels do well in captivity, are fun to watch and, with their bizarre color pattern (mahogany fur on the belly and black and white up top), they make fun zoo animals.

Now to the boat ride. Once on, you ride through the story itself. The beginning, like the movie, starts with the wolves and the pack leader talking about Mowgli and Shere Khan, who hates men. The story (and the ride) then moves quickly to introducing Bagheera and then the Dawn Patrol. Thereafter, we spot Mowgli leaving Bagheera behind in the water right next to your boat. Of course, we then meet Baloo who does an awesome audio animatronic version of the “Bear Necessities.”

bare necessities

Of course, the plot turns to the monkeys. On this attraction, you will have animatronic monkeys on both sides of you as well as above you with one coming awfully close to the top of your head all the while mocking Baloo and stealing his man cub.

At this point, the cruise takes you to King Louie himself singing “I Wanna Be Like You.” I envision this scene to be big and wide open, not unlike the Under the Sea part of the Little Mermaid dark ride. The end of this part of the scene would have the stone pillars coming close to crumbling and falling into the river around you. Mowgli, of course, runs away again, and we meet Kaa dangling over the river looking at you with his hypnotic eyes.

We finally meet Shere Khan and the vultures. Here, at the end, I would also introduce Rocky. Who is Rocky, you ask? Rocky the rhino was a fun character who eventually got cut from the movie. He was kind of dopey and a friend to the vultures. This would be a fun little gem for the Disney aficionados. And I’d buy a Rocky plush.

Anyway, back to the attraction, we come to big finale where Baloo grabs Shere Khan’s tail in his attempt to save his “little britches.” A neat fire effect would come into play. The boat ride then ends with Mowgli watching the young girl at the water’s edge of the man village. The exit to the attraction would be a replica of the man village (and since this is Disney this would likely be a gift shop.

All in all, I think this would make a great addition to the Animal Kingdom. Many people moan about how there isn’t enough to do and I think this would help satisfy those that want rides. It seems people still love this kind of experience too as the wait times for the new Little Mermaid dark ride seem to indicate. And, of course, there would be no sacrifice to the overall theme of the Animal Kingdom, the relationship of animals and man. It’s a perfect match.

Would you take a trip on the Jungle Book Cruise? Let us know what you think! 

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