Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grumptastic Distractions: What’s your Favorite Adventureland Attraction?

Jungle Cruise:  Elephant Grotto In honor of the recent release of Lou Mongello’s Audio Guide to Walt Disney World:  Adventureland, I thought it would be fun to discuss what I feel is my favorite attraction in Adventureland.

There are a few attractions in Adventureland that conjur of childhood memories of fun and excitement and I bet for many of you when you hear the word Adventureland you immediately think Pirates of the Caribbean, Dole Whips, or the Tiki Room.  Some of you may think JUNGLE CRUISE!

As you may have determined, the Jungle Cruise is my personal favorite.  The Jungle Cruise was Walt’s Tribute to his Real Life Adventures shows on TV but was realized in an audio-animatronic world.

What many of you may not know is that it’s my favorite not for the presentation as devised by the Walt Disney Imagineers but due to the “plussing” that was done to it by one of my friends and fellow Disney Geek, Tim Devine.

I was introduced to the “Hi-O Cruise” (aka The Ed McMahan Cruise aka The Heckle Cruise) back at MouseFest 2007.

I’m sure my readers are all aware that one of the facets of the attraction is the really bad jokes that our Skippers Jungle Cruise:  Backside of Water tell as we cruise through the many rivers of the world. 

Well, what always amazed me is the the guests just sit there not making a sound as these jokes are delivered in their usual serious and deadpan manner.  It’s almost as if the guests were just tuning them out since they’ve heard the joke a million times.

What Tim Devine introduced me to was a good natured ribbing that we’d give the skippers.  At first, we randomly, but in unison give out a big-ole "Hi-O" whenever one of the lame jokes is delivered.  As the cruise goes on, they get more frequent. 

It never fails, half-way through the cruise, we can get half to all of the boat participating.  Sometimes we'll shout out the punchlines (BACKSIDE OF WATER) as a group much as fanatics of the Rocky Horror Picture Show do when at a midnight showing of that Tim Curry cult classic.

Of all the times, I have participated in this "event", the Skippers were into it just as much as we were.  In one or two cases, I swear the Skippers decided it was time to bring out their "A" game and increased the lameness factor of the jokes.  At this point, we'd sometimes not respond and remain dead silent in the manner in which they are used to their guest behaving.  This would often get a response of, "Not bad enough for you" and the jokes get worse and worse. 

Jungle Cruise Disneyland Now, I know some of you may be yelling at me from your computer screens saying things along the lines of how irreverent we are for doing this.

Trust me, this is all done in good fun.  We would never dare heckle a comedian at a comedy club because we know they are trying hard to be GOOD.  The Skippers are paid to be bad. 

Secondly, the poor Jungle Cruise Skippers are stuck going around a circuit all day long delivering the same spiel over and over again to a bunch of people who just look around and say nothing.  It is of our opinion that we are adding a little something to their day.  A little spice so-to-speak.

Also, when we get the rare skipper that seems to be annoyed by our actions, we cease.  We aren't there to make their day worse, but we want to see them smile.

The best response to date was the skipper who announced, "I see you all are from Ohio....go Buckeyes!"....LOL

Very few attractions give us the opportunity to participate.  The Adventurer's Club is walking the Green Mile.  Buzz Lightyear and Midway Mania are games.  The Country Bears lets us sing along.  But, we have found a way to let the cast members know we are listening, enjoying ourselves and hopefully that we care.

So what is your favorite attraction in Adventureland?  If you have your own blog, write about it and post a link in the comments to it’s location.  If you aren’t a blogger, tell us about it in the comments.

Now I come to the most dangerous part of the journey, wrapping up the post.  If you enjoyed this post my name is Grumwurst McGrumps-A-Lot and this is Grumpy's Hollow.

If not, my name is George Taylor and this is Imaginerding.

Here are some pictures I have taken:

Jungle Cruise (Disneyland)

Jungle Cruise (Walt Disney World)

And here are some of Tim Devine's pics

Jungle Cruise Gallery


Tim said...

I would like to take the time to point out some of my favorite words in this post.... this one, that one, and that one over there....


FoxxFur said...

Yeah, having been a Jungle Cruise skipper, I've gotten this treatment and after three or four of them I would unplug the microphone and sit down.

Unknown said...


I hope it wasn't us but I would've remembered a female skipper who sat down on our cruise. As I said. I'm the post the principle is to have fun WITH the skipper not at their expense. We've had quite a few tell us that our gents ribbing lightened up their day. I like to think I can tell when someone is annoyed with me and would know to stop because that isn't what we are out to do. We aren't some drunken college students out on spring break

FoxxFur said...

I'm going to expand on this a bit more since I find this behavior infuriating and I want to be perfectly clear on why. Allow me to preface this with the statement that all CMs are different but the face the CM shows to a public is VERY different from the face they show once they're offstage.

First of all, such behavior assumes a number of things. It ignores the immediate issue which is that a lot of people working at Jungle do not want to be there. Jungle Cruise is not a job which is earned, it is assigned, and there is no rehearsal - you learn the spiel and deliver it, or you don't and you don't have a job. It's as simple as that. It also ignores the fact that Jungle Cruise skippers are not paid to tell "bad" jokes. They are paid to drive a boat in a circle, to load and unload guests, and that's about it. Contractually, they are only required to deliver safety spiels as well as deliver "the back side of water" joke.

Second, it assumes that all Jungle Cruise skippers are essentially the same and that the jokes are bad. This is not true. I can name four or five people immediately who deliver really esoteric spiels every time. The simple fact is that unless you're some dipshit CP who doesn't care, chances are you have a spiel which you are fairly good at and pretty proud of, which this behavior trivializes. It also assumes that all spiels are essentially the same, which is not true. There are minute differences in timing and stress which is the difference between a funny joke and an unfunny joke and this is where the spiel is less a job and more of a skill. It's like saying that there's no difference between opening a can of paint and painting a landscape because they both involve paint. You're not giving the CM a chance to show what they're capable of. Furthermore the behavior is obnoxious and disrespectful, and you're permitting the rest of the boat to act in the same way, which is inadmissible. Worst of all, you're assuming that the CM is happy for you to do it, which is outrageously offensive.

Speaking as somebody who has driven their share of Jungle boats through that river, one of the key things about the Jungle experience is that it is a group dynamic which can be easily upset. Your behavior isn't changing the Cast Members' day one iota except how they respond to your rudeness for the ten minutes you're on their boat. If you're responding in a way which says "I think your jokes are awful" (which you are), chances are you're just going to get worse and worse jokes. But if you respond in such a way that says "I think your jokes are funny", then you're going to actually get better jokes. Have you considered that your opinion that Jungle skippers are "paid to tell bad jokes" comes from the fact that you're not letting them tell good ones? Try actually laughing at those jokes and being an attentive audience and you could start getting good ones eventually. Because I tell you this much: when you repeat a ten minute spiel as often as they do, two things happen:

- Every spiel starts out exactly the same, no matter what

- The Skipper can turn on "autopilot" at any moment and just start saying the spiel with perfectly adequate timing without remotely thinking about what they're doing. It's the only defense mechanism you have on what is called a "dead boat", where you're simply not getting a response.

But a rude response is usually just as bad as no response.

I'd furthermore like to assert that you're at somebody's workplace and they have a job to do with very few options as to how to do it. For all of the coddling Disney does regarding its' image of CMs "going out of their way" to "help others", what Disney calls the "front line CMs" - because we were the ones who were gonna do all the fighting and dying for Disney's PR - have no ability to leave their post and do (whatever) for you. That's what coordinators and managers and guest relations are for. So you basically hope not to run into any garbage during your day but it's inevitable anyway. Some people are lucky enough not to have jobs where you're always surrounded by the public but "front line CMs" are not one of them so please remember that you are staying at THEIR home for the ten days you're in Orlando. After you leave, they'll still be there, doing the same old thing day in and day out. Guests are called Guests because they are guests to their living space. So please - be a respectful guest. Because they're just trying to survive. Because you're doing something that they'll never be able to afford while working at Disney - you're on vacation at Disney.