Out of all the jobs sought after at the Disneyland Parks, the role of being a Jungle Cruise Skipper is one of the most desired. A few years ago the OC Register did an opinion poll with the local readers to see what their dream Disney jobs were. The results of poll showed being an Imagineer was the most desired. Immediately below that was the roll of a Jungle Cruise Skipper. Now who wouldn't want to get paid to go around in circles and say some of the puniest jokes around?
The Jungle Cruise is honored to be one of the few attractions to be around since the first day Disneyland opened it's gates. If you're luck enough to know where to look, you can get a glimps of what kinda of planning went into the development of this world famous attraction. To some people the Jungle Cruise isn't the E ticket everyone thinks about, but it has still stayed as popular as ever through out time Disneyland has been open. What makes this attraction truly unique is that it's the Cast Member, not the Attraction in itself, which gives it entertainment value. There is no other Attractions Host that supplies the entertainment for the entire attraction. With that, every skipper is different and has their own style. So when it comes to having more ride combinations, Jungle Cruise beats Indy by a long shot!
Compared to many attraction, the Jungle Cruise is over all quite easy to run. This gives Skippers the great advantage of not having to get up way early or late for opening of closing shifts. The opening crew starts only 15 minutes before park opening. This gives the Skippers just enough time to get signed off by a manager, do a scene check, and get the three boats needed set up for the start of the day. The Jungle begins it's day with only six skippers and a lead. During the peak hours, the Jungle is fully Skipped by the lead and sixteen skippers, with an occasional dock hand during the peak seasons. Each of the 16 skippers are then divided into groups of 4, rotating between the boats, breaks, and loading/unloading. The rotations are done by the skippers themselves with no computers to guide them or tell them when to switch.
Throughout the normal operating day, it's relatively common for the dock to be visit with the skippers counterpart... Tour Guides. When ever a Tour Guide is spotted it usually means one of two things: there is a guided tour or a celebrity coming aboard the punniest boat that have ever sailed. In the nine months that I served on the dock I was honored to guide a few tours as well as some celebrities. The first celebrity that I took out into the Jungle was Ed O'Niell. All I know is that I had no idea that who it was til after the fact. I saw a small group come on with a guide, was told that I wouldn't be loaded any more, and was sent out into the jungle. Ed, himself, sat near the back door with sun glasses while the rest of his family sat up next to me.
The CM in me really came out that trip, not because there was a tour guide, but because there we about three kids up front. So the whole trip I just talked and worked them and boy did they laugh and have a good time! As I went through the Jungle, I saw the man in glasses laughing as well. Upon learning who my mystery celebrity was, I only feel it's safe to say that I'm funny cause I got Al Bundy to laugh at the jokes. I feel honored to know that I was able to make him feel comfortable enough that he was able to relax enough to enjoy the time and laugh with his family.
The other celebrities I had aboard my boat were from the Disney Family... Chip and Dale and then Pluto and Goofy at another time. I have no idea who's idea it was to put Goofy and Pluto up front with the skipper, but I can assure antics followed us for the two trips that we took together. Only at Disney can you ever experience the magic of the characters and skippers working together in improv to entertain guests of all ages.
It really does take something special to work as a skipper. Although it is only one skipper the guests see on the boat, it's really the work of the entire skipper team that makes it all work. There really isn't an attraction that replicates it, so when ever you're in the park, be sure to stop by and allow us to give you a cruise. In the mean time, I would like to thank my head for always pointing me forward, my arms for always being at my sides, and my fingers and toes cause I could always count on them. Don't forget to stop by the Bazaar a pick up your free case of Malaria! One case per family. Catch the fever!
This article was written and offered by Paul Torres, and I think it was written in reply to an article I'd written about being a Steam Train Driver (note the capitalisation - that's how I feel about that job)