If you’ve ever been on Disneyland’s jungle cruise you might be surprised to know that after so much work that’s been done to it that it’s now a self-sustaining ecosystem. It almost seems as though that could have been the intention of the landscapers and management looking after the park in the first place. From what I recall of the ride it was more native-looking the last time I saw it than anything, meaning the trees and much of the foliage looked like they belonged in a local forest rather than the jungle the ride emulated. After so much landscaping and the routine planting and replacing of certain flora however the entire system has reached an equilibrium that has mimicked a true jungle look. At this point it requires very little work other than to keep the animatronic animals from being covered over and to keep too much debris from clogging the river.
My experience on this ride was pretty much the same as anyone else’s. It was fun and the skippers were trained to have a sense of humor but it wasn’t the most engaging ride in the park. In fact the only attraction I can remember being even more dull for kids was the animatronic Lincoln exhibit that people go to but don’t flock to in great numbers. That’s not to say that it wasn’t fun, but in a park where the main attractions are high-speed rollercoasters this is more of a pleasant cruise around the track and a chance to just sit back and relax for a little bit.
At this time though it’s becoming more and more like the jungle it represents as the non-native ecosystem has almost completely taken over and requires little effort on the part of the park to really take care of it. The canopy that now exists over parts of the river soar upwards to 100 feet in some spots and are very adept at keeping in the heat. Acting like a real system unto itself the plants will store that heat so that nothing below the tree line will freeze. Also, park employees will actually allow some of the fallen leaves to simply degrade, as this allows their nutrients to return to the soil so that it can sustain the functioning system and thereby continue the cycle. In this manner the attraction is perhaps the most natural thing in the park.
The jungle cruise opened up in 1955 and has been added onto every couple of years ever since. The biggest gap in which not much changed was from 1976 to 1993. Apart from that things are in a constant state of change as the park tries to keep the ride as fun and as engaging as possible. Some animals have been changed out, others have been added, and even the boats have been given a more weathered look so as to simulate the fact that they’ve been on the water for quite a while. It’s not the most fast-paced ride there, but at the moment it’s the most authentic.