At Disneyland, what is Adventureland?

Jessica Ellis

In Disneyland, you can visit the world of tomorrow and stroll through charming Americana past, but true adventurers head straight over to the dangerous jungle setting of Adventureland. Whether you are fending off dangerous hippos, scaling impossible treetops, or singing along with tiki birds, this dense green area of the park is not for timid travelers. Adventureland is one of the smaller park sections, but packs enough adventures for the whole family.

Walt Disney originally planned to stock Adventureland with live safari animals.
Walt Disney originally planned to stock Adventureland with live safari animals.

Disneyland founder Walt Disney originally envisioned live safari animals as attractions for this area of his new park. After consulting with some rather more practical advisers, he came to the realization that live animals are unpredictable and cannot be counted on to perform on cue or provide an experience. Instead, Walt ordered the building of animatronic animals to populate the lost river delta that was the main component of the original Adventureland.

When the park opened in 1955, the Jungle River Cruise was a main attraction, carrying visitors from Asian to African jungle sights, all from the comfort of a large touring boat. Adventurers are subjected to the guidance of a live river guide, notable for a large repertoire of incredibly bad puns. The ride was built on a tight budget, and designers were forced to employ interesting techniques to get an exotic look with many local plants. Famously, nearby orange trees were torn out of the ground, replanted upside-down, and covered with vines to achieve an authentic jungle look.

In 1963, Walt Disney debuted the use of audio-animatronics with the singing birdies of The Enchanted Tiki Room. This live show invites audience members to sing along with a chorus of completely animatronic birds, tikis and flowers. Since opening, the attraction has provided guests with a pleasant respite from lines and Southern California heat, and is the home of one of the best treats in the park. If you see an enormous line in front of the building, it is most likely overheated visitors in line for the whipped-pineapple dessert served at the show’s concession stand. Regular park visitors are likely to become somewhat poetic over the values of the sherbet-like snack.

Adventureland was once home to a replica of the ingenious treehouse built in the Disney film The Swiss Family Robinson that visitors could explore. In 1999, the Robinson’s were tossed out for the arrival of a far less civilized group of characters from the hit animated feature Tarzan. Tarzan’s Treehouse guides guests through a treetop walkthrough of the plot, and contains a playground-like area with inventions to toy with.

Snuggled between the tree house and the jungle river is Adventureland’s most thrilling attraction, Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Wary visitors are guided through an elaborate queue until reaching a loading station where they board a vehicle styled to resemble a World War II-era troop vehicle. Cars shoot through a bumpy and exciting track filled with fiery explosions, flying darts, and even an encounter with an enormous rolling boulder. The ride is noted for its high level of intensity, and those with back or neck injuries should take care before riding.

Whether avoiding deadly river piranhas, swinging across suspension bridges, or enjoying a tropical treat, Adventureland is a wonderful oasis in Disneyland. Visitors should not miss Tarzan’s Treehouse at night, which gives a beautiful vista of the evening lights throughout the park. Just be sure to remember, according to the best Jungle Cruise experts, tigers can jump over twenty feet, so since the boat is only fifteen feet away, they’ll jump right over you.

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