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Secrets of a Jungle Cruise Skipper at Disney's Magic Kingdom

The downsides

The Florida climate was the biggest downside to the Jungle Cruise role, according to Amy: "The Jungle is a hot and humid place on the best of days, so when the weather became unpleasant, it was really unpleasant for us. The worst days were when it was rainy, humid and crowded. The guests don’t like days like that any more than we do, so they would get on your boat and be very unpleasant. I also didn’t enjoy when guests would hold conversations during the trip, or take very loud phone calls or consult their guide books. I always felt that that was very rude."

Jungle Cruise skipper (2)

"Being a Jungle Cruise Skipper is more difficult than some would like to believe. To some, it appears as though all the Skipper does is stand in front of people and read off jokes written by others. It appears as though it’s nothing but nonstop laughter. The reality is that being a Skipper has a certain amount of stress. Depending on the weather and the crowds, the guests on your particular boat could either be very receptive and laugh at everything, or completely detached and not care less what you have to say. After a few boats of the latter, a Skipper can find himself or herself in a very bad mood for the rest of the day."

"The trick to getting through a long day at the Jungle Cruise is to accept the fact that not every guest is going to listen, or laugh or appreciate anything you have to say in the slightest. It’s not that the skipper shouldn’t care or try, but they should just accept that every boat brings a new challenge and not take the silence personally."

The hidden secrets

Guests are unaware of some of the hidden secrets dotted around the Jungle Cruise - though not all of them are genuine. "One thing that I always thought was amusing, that everyone thought was an actual secret, was the alleged hidden Figment near the temple exit. This rumor has become so prevalent that it’s part of the Keys to the Kingdom tour offered at the park."

"In reality what looks like a profile of Epcot’s famous Figment carved into the stone is really a damage mark. The previous model of the jungle boat had a larger canopy than what’s used today. One day, it seems, there was too much weight on that side of the boat and it was listing to one side. The wider canopy hit the wall and left the scrape."

Jungle Cruise (4)
Image: Rachel K

"Another thing not too many people know about is how often animatronic heads and faces are reused around the park. The most famous example is the caretaker from the Haunted Mansion. If you look closely at the poor gentlemen on the Jungle Crise stuck up the pole with an angry rhino at the bottom, you’ll find a distant cousin of the caretaker."

X-rated antics

Disney can control the actions of its Cast Members - but it can't completely control nature. Amy remembers: "The reality of the Jungle Cruise is that it’s a water attraction, and so we get lots of water-dwelling creatures living in and around the river. We’ve seen large snakes, alligators and, of course, ducks more times than I can count."

Magic Kingdom duck
Not as innocent as he looks...
Image: Ben Ostrowsky

"The memorable part is how often the ducks put on a rather inappropriate display that leaves the adults in the queue struggling to explain to their children just what exactly is going on. In reality, these things happen in nature all the time. They’re animals. That’s what they do. But seeing two ducks going at it on top of a Jungle Cruise boat at Walt Disney World tends to make some folks grumpy!"

Thanks to Amy for sharing her memories with us. If you'd like to learn more about Cast Members' roles and experiences at Walt Disney World, sign up now to be notified when Creating the Magic: Life as a Disney Cast Member is released.

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Each member of our family will select specific jokes prior to riding. If the captain says the joke during the ride, the person who picked that joke will celebrate by yelling, laughing WAY TO HARD, slapping their legs, etc. Nothing mean-spirited. Its all in good fun. We hope that the captain realizes what we're doing. Sometimes when they know we're "joke fishing" they will try and tell as many jokes as they can hoping one of them is the one we're looking for.

One time, we had a captain do his entire spiel like the late comedian Mitch Hedberg. VERY FUNNY for the few of us who knew of him!

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