Skipper in Training

Truth time: I love Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats. Yes, they’re broken down half the time and they’re difficult to steer. But haven’t you always wanted to navigate the Irrawaddy Irma down the tropical rivers of the world? Well, this is as close as you’re ever going to get!

For the uninitiated, the Junior Jungle Boats are a pay-for-play attraction located on the right as you exit the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. For the cost of only two tokens (or $2), you take the helm—a full-size ship wheel and throttle—and begin the adventure of piloting a remote controlled mini-boat.

The object of the game is to steer your little Jungle Cruiser around spear-tipped bamboo, between heavenly gates and through the open mouths of Tiki Gods. And, though The Jungle Navigation Company frowns on it, you can also play an awesome game of mini-bumper boats. 

If you pilot through and over the proper obstacles, you can make things happen—noises, lights, fire plumes and things like that. The boats aren’t exactly easy to pilot, and so bumper boats is my game of choice. My husband Rob is sort of a video game genie, and he does pretty well with threading his boat through the course.

There are sixteen mini-boats, but the last time I took on the role of skipper, in December 2011, half of the boats weren’t working. The first machine we tried ate all of our tokens but then refused to move, and it too was subsequently covered for maintenance.

Luckily, the Cast Members at the Jungle Cruise are used to dealing with this kind of breakdown, and they promptly handed us six tokens—enough for three spins around the pond. We played six minutes for the price of two!!

I’m not saying I run to Shrunken Ned’s first thing each trip, and I will admit that it costs about twice as much as it should. But it is a fun diversion while you’re waiting for your Fast Pass time to come up or when you’re enjoying a slow afternoon in Adventureland. And it’s especially beautiful at night.

Have you been through Shrunken Ned’s Skipper Training School? What do you think?