ANAHEIM – Those goofy Jungle Cruise skippers are getting new fodder for their corny jokes – the holidays.
For the first time, Disneyland is turning the classic river ride into Jingle Cruise for the season.
As the Disney back story goes, the homesick skippers are decorating the boathouse and queue area next month with objects they found or ornaments that were mailed from home. Along the tour, the quip-happy skippers will freshen up their heavily scripted spiel with a smattering of new jokes with a holiday theme.
“It’s really all about the skippers and their jokes and keeping to the traditions,” said Wyatt Winter, producer and project manager for Jingle Cruise.
Jungle Cruise opened on Disneyland’s first day in 1955 with its boat ride led by skippers along a river dotted with animatronic elephants, tigers and natives in Adventureland. It started with a more-serious narration that went along with Disney’s True-Life Adventure films, but the story later developed into a silly, pun-filled script spun by often-sarcastic-but-playful skippers.
The idea for the holiday Jingle Cruise came up among former skippers who now work at Walt Disney Imagineering, the company arm that creates theme park attractions. They knew some holiday jokes and concepts had been mixed in before, so a half-dozen former skippers brainstormed to do even more.
They did stray from putting Santa hats on elephants or garland on zebras – the river scenes will stay the same.
“This just adds some variety to what the guests experience over the holidays,” Winter said.
Two new jokes:
• In the river-front scene where a boa constrictor is wrapped around a tree: “Those water buffaloes are getting an old tree for Christmas. It’s all wrapped up with a boa on top.”
• At the hippo pool: “See how they wiggle their ears? It’s how they keep warm. They don’t want to catch hippo-thermia.”
Disney’s Wednesday announcement about the Jingle Cruise was an instant hit on social media: Jingle Cruise was trending on Twitter.
“It gives a new focus and a new set of jokes and a new attitude that will revitalize the skippers,” said Kyle Crocker, a former skipper.
Christopher Ramirez, another ex skipper, said during his 2000-03 tenure he and his colleagues sometimes sought approval from higher-ups to add holiday jokes and decorations, including themed Jungle Cruise Santa hats. Some ideas were approved, including the hats.
“I think it will be a great addition,” Ramirez said. “It keeps it relevant and fun and with everything else they do at Christmas time.”
For the holidays, Disneyland also spruces up the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World.
An opening date for Jingle Cruise has yet to be announced. The Disneyland Resort’s official holiday season starts Nov. 12.