The Jungle Cruise: A True-Life Adventure


“Here is adventure. Here is romance. Here is mystery. Tropical Rivers, silently flowing into the unknown. The unbelievable splendor of exotic flowers … the eerie sounds of the jungle … with eyes that are always watching. This is Adventureland, the wonderland of nature’s own design.” 

When Disneyland was in its formative stages, Walt Disney planned an area where the studio’s True-Life Adventure series of nature films could be played out right in front of the park visitors, and it was to be called, appropriately enough, True Life Adventureland.” The land was originally supposed to have real animals from Africa to inhabit a jungle river, but after zoologists told Walt the real animals would lay around, sleep, or hide, the Imagineers built Animatronic animals instead. The term “True-Life” was eventually dropped from “True-Life Adventureland.” 

Consider the true-life adventures represented by the adventure that started them all, the Jungle Cruise. We get:

The back side of water!
Image courtesy of
  • Ruins of an ancient shrine
  • Elephant bathing pool
  • Safari base camp and gorillas
  • The Nile River
  • An encounter with African bull elephants
  • A group of baboons, and a family of lions protecting a sleeping zebra
  • Safari party on the pole
  • Hippo pool
  • An example of native arts & crafts (“That’s Art there on top.”)
  • The world famous “back side of water”
  • Piranhas
  • Trader Sam
  • The dreaded return to civilization

OK, so they’re not all true life, but they’re all based on real events and sights, just with a twist. And—while the current version and all later instances have made use of a comedic spiel—the original intent of the ride was to provide a realistic, believable voyage through the world’s jungles. The original spiel had no jokes and sounded much like the narration of a nature documentary.

Think about the ride, especially imagine (or remember) riding it as a child for the first time

  • There are some scary moments, like when the piranha appear.
  • There are some hard parts, like what the safari party encountered.
  • There are some exciting parts like the back side of water. OK, not that, like the close-up look at the elephants and hippos.

We weren’t even watching him
(or her) at the time!

And there are some boring parts. One of the times I rode the Jungle Cruise, we had to wait before we could return to the dock. While waiting, the skipper pointed out some of the local flora to us. “There’s some. And there’s some more over there. And more over there.” That’s still one of my favorite Jungle Cruise jokes for some reason, but the truth is, nothing was happening and we were staring at shrubs.

When you get off the ride, you look back and realize it was fun. Depending on how good your perspective is, you may be enjoying it while you’re on it, but maybe not all of it, until later. And sometimes, it gets more fun in the retelling and remembering.

Like the tales portrayed in Adventureland, The Christian life is a true-life adventure.

Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s exciting. Sometimes it’s boring.
And it’s not fun all the time. There are some fun times, but not all the time. And fun isn’t the purpose of life. Christlikeness: growth, maturity, love, grace, joy. This is the purpose. Fun is a periodic byproduct.

Mark Lowry put it this way (paraphrased a bit): Christ said, “I’ve come to give you life, but not just life, but life more abundant” First you’ve got to know what life is. You know what life is?

Life is a series of emotions and experiences, a mountain after a valley, a wife to feed, a husband to clothe, children to raise, a boss to put up with, car notes, taxes, April 15th. Life is life!  

Christ said, “I’ve come to give you life…..more abundant!” 

“If I could put the Christian life into one word, you know what it would be? It wouldn’t be joyous, it wouldn’t be victorious, it wouldn’t be sad, it wouldn’t be depressing even though it has been all these things at some point in time. If I could put it into one word, if I could put my entire Christian experience into one word, it would be this; the Christian life is … interesting!”

For whatever else it may or many not be at any given moment, overall it’s an adventure!

What word would you use to summarize your Christian experience? Or, if you aren’t a Christian, what word do you think you would use–what word described the Christians you know?

Randy CraneRandy Crane is passionate about helping Christians, especially those with a Disney affinity, to discover and connect to their GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE AND VALUE, to build their lives to achieve TRUE SUCCESS AND MEANING, and to POSITIVELY IMPACT their world. For more than two decades, Randy has been leading individuals and teams into a greater joy and child-like appreciation of the world around them, equipping them to reach beyond what they have previously experienced and build a God-given identity and purpose. Ready to experience that for yourself? Tell us where to send SIX free videos all created to help answer the 3 questions you need to experience PEACE, FREEDOM, and PURPOSE!

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