Yesterland Hotel
at Yesterland.com

Safari Adventure

The other Jungle Cruise
Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010



Jungle Cruise at the Disneyland, 1974

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

Jungle Cruise boats of Yesterland, with their candy-striped canopies

The Jungle Cruise is one of the best-known attractions of the park. Guests travel along the jungle rivers of Asia and Africa in explorer launches with white hulls and striped canopies. The boat’s skipper narrates the tour, showing off such landmarks as “Schweitzer Falls, named after the famous humanitarian, Dr. Albert… Falls.” As the boat returns to the dock, the skipper warns guests they are “now coming to the most dangerous part of the journey—the return to civilization and California freeways.”

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010

Striped canopy boat at the Yesterland Hotel

There’s another Jungle Cruise nearby. It’s Safari Adventure over at the Yesterland Hotel—where you can be the skipper! That means you get to steer the boat. And, if you like, you can even make up your own corny narration.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010

Jungle Cruise dock building, Safari Adventure version

Unlike the Jungle Cruise over at the park, Safari Adventure doesn’t run on a track. And the water is clean and clear, unlike the park’s murky jungle rivers.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010

Volunteer fire department elephant

Safari Adventure has animals too, although not nearly as many as the better-known Jungle Cruise.

As you successfully guide your boat past the loading dock, an empty boat in a nearby slip catches fire. The good news is that there’s a barge with volunteer firefighters nearby—including a helpful elephant who promptly extinguishes the blaze by squirting water from his trunk.

You won’t see that on the regular Jungle Cruise.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010

Diswaytada Falls (“Enter at your own risk”)

Instead of Schweitzer Falls, Safari Adventure has Diswaytada Falls. It takes skill to steer your boat behind the falls. Be sure to tell your passengers that they’re seeing the “amazing, stupendous backside of water.” Add a few more adjectives to “backside of water” if you wish.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010

Angry gorilla on the rope bridge

A rope suspension bridge connects the top of a rocky island to the top of Diswaytada Falls. As you carefully guide your boat behind Diswaytada Falls, an explorer on the bridge yells, “Hey, stop that!” That’s because a gorilla on the bridge will be upset with you.

You pilot your boat behind the falls anyway. Oh no! You’ve made the gorilla angry. He’s shaking the suspension bridge violently. The explorer is thrown off the bridge.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Forbidden Tunnel

There’s another event you can trigger. The rocky island that serves as one end of the suspension bridge has a tunnel through it. A sign above the tunnel reads “BEWARE!” You decide to ignore the sign and take the short cut through the tunnel. While your boat is inside, there’s lightning and an explosion; smoke billows out; your passengers scream.

Oh no! Did your boat blow up? No. Your boat emerges unscathed, ready to trigger the events again and again if you choose to.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Safari Adventure lagoon adjacent to the Lost Bar.

By now, you’ve undoubtedly figured out that the Safari Adventure boats at the hotel are much smaller than the Jungle Cruise boats at the park. Safari Adventure is a remote-control attraction located near the center of the rectangle formed by the hotel’s three towers and its convention center.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010

Boats in the Safari Adventure lagoon

Just as at the Jungle Cruise, each boat has its own name, but the names are different. Look for Bambari Bob, Great Ruaha Hideo, Katonga Kristin, Kinshasa Kathi, Kwango Joe, Limpopo Lizzie, Lulua Laura, Sehithwa Hutch, and others.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Remote control stations

Each boat has a large number above the boat’s name. The number corresponds to one of the token-operated, remote-control pilot stations. One token is $2. Or you can get four tokens for $5. The best value is the “Super Special,” which provides ten tokens for just $10.

Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Boats huddled together

When you pick a remote control station, look for one that controls a boat that’s not blocked by other boats. Don’t be concerned if an interactive element doesn’t work properly. The real fun is piloting your boat all around the lagoon and avoiding (or running into) other boats.

As you make up a corny narration for your passengers, don’t be upset if your passengers don’t laugh. The passengers at the real Jungle Cruise don’t laugh out loud either—even though they’re having a good time.


Safari Adventure opened in 1999 at the Disneyland Hotel.

1999 was a significant year in the evolution of the hotel. The Walt Disney Company, which had acquired the Disneyland Hotel in 1988, demolished the hotel’s original buildings and pools from the 1950s in 1999 to clear land that would become part of Downtown Disney. That meant the hotel needed a new main pool.

Marina at the Disneyland Hotel

Wrather Corp. photo, circa mid-1980s, from the collection of Don Ballard

Disneyland Hotel Marina, future site of the Never Land Pool and Safari Adventure

The former Marina became the site of the Never Land Pool, which opened in July 1999. The Lost Bar and Safari Adventure opened in December 1999.

Safari Adventure was designed and built by Thola Productions of Laguna Hills, California. With its attention to detail and its clever interactive events, Safari Adventure had true Disney quality. Remote-control tour boats, tug boats, and hovercraft from Thola can also be found at other parks, including Knott’s Berry Farm and LEGOLAND California.

Former Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Wrather Corp. photo, circa mid-1980s, from the collection of Don Ballard

Queen’s Berth remote-controlled tugboats, predecessor of Safari Adventure

Thola Productions’ involvement with the Disneyland Hotel began back in 1984, when Disney Legend Jack Wrather was still alive and his company still owned the hotel. Thola’s first remote-control tugboat attraction anywhere, Queen’s Berth, featured 22 remote-control tugboats, islands with interactive events, and a scale model of the Wrather-operated (and later Disney-operated) Queen Mary as its centerpiece.

Over the years, Safari Adventure lost some of its miniature people, and the interactive events did not always function properly. But it remained fun to play and fun to watch.

As part of the largest renovation of the Disneyland Hotel ever, Safari Adventure ended operations permanently July 31, 2010. Hook’s Pointe restaurant and the Wine Cellar had already been given the hook on July 25. The Video Arcade was unplugged on July 30. The Lost Bar and Croc’s Bits and Bites snapped shut forever on August 1, 2010.

In 2011, Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar opened as the new eating and drinking spots adjacent to the old site of Safari Adventure. New pools, water slides, sun decks, and lawns replaced their counterparts from 1999, as well as erasing remnants of older enhancements to the hotel.

Former Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Safari Adventure a few days after closing permanently (photo: August 4, 2010)

What happened to the Safari Adventure boats and set pieces, such as the fire department elephant raft? After their mechanical guts and electronics were removed for use elsewhere, the boats wound up in the hands of private collectors, as did the set pieces.

Nick, a former Jungle Cruise skipper at Disneyland, purchased number 12, Nova Mambone Nani. Adding back parts similar to those that had been removed, Nick made it back into a functioning radio-controlled boat.

Eight years later, Nick and his boat were on Pawn Stars, a series on the History cable network. Nick wanted to sell, and he hoped the pawn shop would want to buy.

Former Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Pawn Stars season 15, episode 18 © Leftfield Pictures, An ITV America Company

Rick and Chumlee of Pawn Stars with Safari Adventure boat number 12

Former Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Pawn Stars season 15, episode 18 © Leftfield Pictures, An ITV America Company

Boat owner Nick, hoping his boat is valuable

Former Safari Adventure at the Disneyland Hotel

Pawn Stars season 15, episode 18 © Leftfield Pictures, An ITV America Company

End credits of the Pawn Stars episode, listing Chris Bales, Allen Huffman, and Werner Weiss

The producers of Pawn Stars wanted a few historical images of the attraction in operation at the Disneyland Hotel, so they contacted Yesterland. And that’s how three members of the Yesterland team got their names in the end credits of a cable TV reality show.


Nobody knows more about the history of the Disneyland Hotel than author and historian Donald W. Ballard—and nobody has a better collection of amazing historical photos of it.

Don’s newest book is about the end of the original Disneyland Hotel in 1999 and the many changes that followed immediately, one of which was Safari Adventure. Click on the Amazon links to learn more.

 

Paperback

Kindle

Yesterland is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. That means Yesterland benefits financially if you buy this book (and any other items at Amazon) using a link in this article.
 

For other books by Don Ballard about the Disneyland Hotel—or just to enjoy historic photos of it online—visit www.MagicalHotel.com.


Click here to post comments at MiceChat about this article.


Never Land Pool
Vacationland RV Park
Home


© 2012-2019 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated August 30, 2019.