Next year, the World Famous Jungle Cruise in Adventureland joins the list of Disneyland Park attractions to inspire a live-action feature film.
The movie is about a group of riverboat passengers traveling through a dangerous jungle, featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as your skipper. This idea comes full circle, as the attraction itself is based partly on a movie, The African Queen. The Jungle Cruise is one of Disneyland’s first attractions, opening in July of 1955, and is a sentimental favorite at most Disney parks.
Since the movie is still several months away, now is a good time to embark on a literary journey of reading inspired by (or that inspired) Adventureland attractions.
Let’s be honest, the World Famous Jungle Cruise is essentially the world’s longest, most plush, and elaborate “Dad Joke,” so packed with cringe-worthy puns and dryly-delivered one-liners, you can’t help but love it.
That’s probably why it was chosen for the latest in the Disney Parks Presents picture book series. This book was written by Walt Disney Imagineering and Jungle Cruise Skippers, which means its narrative is based not only the one set spiel the skipper gives but also on some of the fun improvised comments by skippers that are most commonly used. Previous Disney Parks Presents books took advantage of familiar songs from attractions with an accompanying CD of the song. Since this one isn’t based on a song, it includes a disc of the spiel read by John Lasseter, himself a former skipper. Also for beginning readers is a Jungle Cruise: Animals board book.
Skippers are the ones who make the Jungle Cruise so fun, and former skipper and historian David John Marley has compiled some of the memories—good, bad, and weird—from Jungle Cruise Skippers from the 1950s to present day in Skipper Stories: True Tales From Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise. This book ranges from dealings with teens on grad night to meeting celebrity guests, as well as some Skipper pranks and practices you might not want to know.
Enchanted Tiki Room
The Enchanted Tiki Room opened at Disneyland in 1963, and it is the perfect embodiment of that pseudo-Polynesian kitsch that was so popular in the mid-twentieth century but still has its share of fans today.
The Tiki Room is the focus of the first book in the Tales From Adventureland: The Keymaster’s Quest released in fall of 2017. It was followed this year by an adventure set on The Jungle Cruise, The Golden Paw. This series by Jason Lethcoe is about a young boy, Andy Stanley, whose elusive grandfather, a famous explorer, goes missing deep in the Amazon jungle. Andy’s quest to find him takes him on adventures in the various attractions. These are geared towards middle school readers, similar to the Tales From the Haunted Mansion series.
A third book in the series, The Doomsday Device, possibly based on Indiana Jones Adventure attraction, comes out later this month.
The Tiki Room is also got its own five-part comic series Disney Kingdoms: Enchanted Tiki Room series in 2016 for Marvel, written by Jon Adams with illustrations by Horacio Domingues. This kind of turned the Tiki Room into a Fantasy Island atmosphere where a group of strangers visiting the island find they are mysteriously connected. The collected five issues are available in a hardcover version, but if you can still find individual back issues, look for the adorable cover art by Brian Kessinger.
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
The newest Adventureland attraction, Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, opened in 1995. This is Adventureland’s most elaborate attraction, inspired by Indy’s world-traveling adventures such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade. After four movies and talks of a fifth one coming around 2021, Indiana Jones has his share of paperback novels and comics.
There are, of course, the movie adaptations, and a compilation of the first three movies, The Indiana Jones Adventures, is available in paperback. Scholastic press released a series of pretty good young reader adaptations, as well as other adventures. If you can find them, an interactive series of “Find Your Fate” Indiana Jones adventures were released in the mid-1980s boasting among its contributors Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine, fantasy writer Rose Estes, and DC comics writer Andy Helfer.
The 1990s was when the Indiana Jones novels were being released at a fast pace, including six by Rob Macgregor, two by Martin Caidin, and four by Max McCoy. This is nowhere near as huge as the Star Wars extended universe, but they are still good little adventures if you can’t get enough of Dr. Jones. I would start with the first one MacGregor’s, Indiana Jones and the Peril of Delphi released in 1991. It’s still available to purchase, but these books pop up all the time in used bookstores, including one that came out as late as 2009, Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead by Steve Perry.
There were several Indiana Jones comic collections released in the 1980s to the 2000s, by various writers and artists from Marvel and Dark Horse. Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures has three collected volumes of these, including some featuring work by the late Steve Ditko.
For the movie lovers, The Complete Making of Indiana Jones: The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films has the best behind-the-scenes looks, written by J.W. Rinzler and Laurent Bouzereau. It’s a hefty one, so make room for it. If you can still find it, there’s also the Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide put out by DK Publishing.
However, there are two books I recommend that fit best with the Adventureland reading.
First, there’s The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones by “Henry Jones Jr.” with secret sketches, diary entries, press clippings, and other treasures. It covers all four movies and is an attractive collectible for Indy fans.
The other is the Indiana Jones Handbook: The Complete Adventurers Guide by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese. Very much in the spirit of the Worst Case Scenario survival series, this book will teach you the Indy essentials like how to pass under a moving truck or break a zombie curse.
One attraction in the park that has changed over the years is Tarzan’s Treehouse, now based on the Disney animated feature inspired by the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories of the son of an English lord who becomes “King of the Apes.”
Burroughs originally wrote 24 Tarzan novels from 1912 to 1965, beginning in 1912 with Tarzan of the Apes. A good way to collect some of these books is with Volumes I and II of Tarzan: The Novels collection, which have some great sepia cover images befitting of the Adventureland feel.
Many park visitors know this interactive attraction, changed to the Tarzan theme is 1999, was originally The Swiss Family Treehouse that opened at the park in 1962. Like Tarzan, it is also based on a Disney movie inspired by a book, The Swiss Family Robinson. This survival story of a Swiss pastor and family stranded on an uncharted island was written in 1812 by Johann D. Wyss. Versions are still in print today.
Jungle Cruise is, as of now, listed for an October 2019 release. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy some adventuresome reading.
I’ll send you off in proper Jungle Cruise fashion:
“My name is Lisa and this has been the Adventureland Reading List for the World Famous GeekMom site. If you did enjoy it, check out my reading lists for Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, but if you didn’t, my name is River and this is the official Doctor Who forum. Alions-y.”