Saturday, May 2, 2015

Disneyland. Jungle Cruise. Gotta do it.

Like a lot of Southern Californians, I have been to Disneyland many, many times. One of my favorite places in the park is the Jungle Cruise queue, built to resemble a ramshackle outpost/boathouse in an exotic jungle (full story here).

To me, the boathouse has always felt like walking through a life-size dollhouse. From front to back, it isn't that deep (Disneyland's Adventureland is rather small due to its age and placement, so the current boathouse was built to fit a certain footprint, and the two-story design keeps the queue from blocking the already-congested walkway outside on busy days). The windows, for the most part, don't have glass in them but do have shutters. The back of the boathouse (which faces the jungle and is where the boats load) is largely open (for obvious reasons, there are railings). There are doorways with no doors, the fruit is definitely plastic (ironically, there are a couple of live birds in cages if you know where to look), and the crew have re-purposed items in pretty much the same way that children re-purpose small items as dollhouse furniture.

Jungle Cruise skippers are notoriously witty (some of them are brilliant comedians), and many of them like to start off the eight-minute voyage by asking for a show of hands: "How many of you woke up this morning and said 'Disneyland. Jungle Cruise. Gotta do it'?"

Last summer, I did exactly that. Instead of going there in person, I decided my next build was going to be a dollhouse version of the Jungle Cruise boathouse. 

Obviously, I have a LONG way to go on this build. But, with the outside painted, it's at least somewhat recognizable.

I hasten to add (for the benefit of Disney purists) that this is NOT an exact copy. If it were, the base would be too big to fit on my work table, the additional materials required would blow the budget, and due to the unique structural challenges of building in miniature, certain areas of the boathouse wouldn't be stable. Add to that the fact that I am not a carpenter in the first place, and in a nutshell, I have to take some liberties (which I'll detail in a future post). I'm aiming for the overall feel of the boathouse, not perfection.

Expect progress to be slow - I'm going to have to make the shutters, some of the railings, and most of the props myself. And although I didn't include the adjoining Tropical Imports shop, I've left enough space to build it later (I'm still not sure I will, since the merchandise consists mostly of bottled drinks, packaged snacks, and rubber snakes...).

P.S. There was an auction of vintage Disneyland items in Los Angeles a couple of months ago. I wasn't able to attend, but was thrilled to see that the very first item listed in the auction catalog (see page 13) was one of the miniature potbellied stoves Walt Disney made and hand-painted himself (if you've missed certain previous posts, Walt collected, and occasionally made, miniatures).


  1. It looks like an interesting build Anna. I'll have to look up the real place since I can't recall seeing a picture of it. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it =0)

    1. Pepper, there's a pretty good picture of the boathouse here: