Are you seeking adventure with pirates or wanting a watery tour of the jungle? Then Adventureland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is just the place to go.
Like Disneyland in California, Adventureland is reached by veering left out of the Central Plaza (the Hub) after walking up Main Street U.S.A.
(Editor’s note: Short opinions from the writer, a former Disney Imagineer, appear in italics.)
Unlike Disneyland’s Adventureland, there is a lot more room for attractions, shops, restaurants and room to walk.
When Walt Disney World first opened in 1971, it had three attractions very similar to its California cousin: Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Treehouse and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.
Many visitors complained about the lack of an East Coast version of Pirates of the Caribbean. That was quickly remedied when the attraction opened in the winter of 1973 as part of the Caribbean Plaza addition to the land.
While four of the five attractions in the land are similar to their cousins in California, there are several differences. The Treehouse is on an island, the pirates are in a Spanish fort, and the singing birds are in a larger Tahitian Ceremonial House.
Thanks to the additional space, the shops are a little larger, too.
There is also a guest participation event called “A Pirate’s Adventure – Treasures of the Seven Seas,” designed for younger kids, where they set out with treasure maps in an attempt to find the treasure.
Dining and snacks
Just like in California, the Dole Whip can be found near the Tiki Room, at the Aloha Isle counter service facility. Keeping with the tropical bent, the Sunshine Tree Terrace offers soft-serve ice cream mixed with frozen juice, or a frozen fruit-flavored slush. Both cold items can be very welcome in the central Florida summer heat and humidity.
For quick fare with some seating in an air-conditioned space, Tortuga Tavern, located near Pirates of the Caribbean, has hot dogs, turkey legs and other quick-service items.
Near the entrance to Adventureland is its newest restaurant, the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. (Yes, that’s its name – most just call it the Skipper Canteen.) There are three rooms at this table service facility: The Mess Hall, The Jungle Room and the S.E.A. (Society of Explorers and Adventurers) Room.
The menu has a large variety of items inspired by foods from the more exotic jungle areas of Asia, South America and Africa. Reservations are offered on a same-day basis only.
Jungle Cruise Step aboard, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, for a voyage into the dark jungle on the “World Famous Jungle Cruise” with your experienced skipper as guide. Of course, the skipper mostly cracks jokes and groan-worthy puns during the journey.
Just like Disneyland’s classic, the Florida version has many of the same scenes, such as the rhinoceros trying to get its point across to the lost safari on the totem pole, and the elephant bathing pool.
There is also the famous trek behind the “backside of water” when the boat travels behind the waterfalls, the eighth wonder of the world. But after traveling behind the waterfalls, there is a scene that is not at Disneyland – a trip through an ancient shrine.
Inside the shrine can seen baboons, a tiger, cobras, large spiders with their webs and other jungle creatures, among the “artifacts.”
The additional space in Florida makes this a far better version of the Jungle Cruise than California. There are more scenes, giving the skippers a better opportunity to work with the crowd on board, and makes for better comic timing for their jokes and puns.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin This mild thrill ride places riders (up to four) on board a “magic carpet” that will fly them around in a circle.
While flying, the riders in front control the height of the carpet. When passing the camel on one side of the ride beware, it spits as some fly by – not real spit, of course, water.
Think of this as just like riding Dumbo, but on a faux carpet. I’ve always felt that Disney missed a chance to create a cool dark ride based on the Magic Carpet character from the movie “Aladdin.”
Pirates of the Caribbean You come seeking adventure with pirates, eh? The Florida version of the classic Disney attraction is inside a Spanish fort. (While outside, listen and watch the cannon, it periodically fires at imaginary pirate ships.)
The queue takes people through the Spanish fort before getting to the boat dock.
After boarding the boats, instead of a leisurely trip around a restaurant, the Walt Disney World version immediately sends you on your trip. Up first, a Davey Jones on a mist screen.
Next is the section with the caverns and the skeleton piloting the shipwreck then it’s down the waterfall right into the battle between the pirate ship and the fort. Just like Disneyland, they’re looking for Captain Jack Sparrow. From here the scenes are the same as the original version.
The redhead is still the preferred bride in the auction scene, and the town is still afire while the pirates sing “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.” Then it’s on to the jailed pirates that are still trying to entice the dog to give them the key to their cell.
Finally, there is a scene with Captain Jack Sparrow with the treasure he’s found.
This is a truncated version of the classic ride – and it misses some of the things that make the Disneyland version work so well. There is no bayou to set the mood, with a restaurant nearby. There is only one waterfall drop, and a short one at that. There is no “going back up the waterfall” at the end. The ride just ends.
Now to anyone who has not seen the Disneyland version, it is probably fine. But those of us spoiled with having seen both, I prefer the original. I will say, however, that the Audio-Animatronic figures seem to move better and the audio is easier to understand in Florida.
Swiss Family Treehouse Walk up the 116 steps to see the home the Robinson family made in the trees after being shipwrecked on an island.
Based on the book and the Disney movie “Swiss Family Robinson,” this walking tour takes visitors high up into the tree, where they can check out the many rooms. Rooms include a living room, a “jungle lookout,” bedrooms, library and a kitchen.
Around the base of the fake tree is a water wheel that is used to carry water up to the kitchen.
The tree is not a real tree, but is artificial and even has a “scientific name” of “Disneyodendron eximus.”
This attraction is a pleasant diversion, especially for families with kids full of energy. Once the top of the Treehouse is reached, it affords a great view of the Magic Kingdom and some of Walt Disney World’s hotels.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room Where the birds sing words and the flowers croon, as the song goes, inside the Florida version of the classic sit-down attraction.
Before entering the Tiki Room, visitors are entertained by Clyde and Claude, two toucans perched atop a Tiki god statue.
Once seated inside, it’s show time and it’s time to wake up Jose. Fairly quickly, all the birds, flowers and Tiki gods are brought to life, singing and cracking jokes.
But all the singing upset the Tiki gods, and they make it rain outside, or rather make it appear in the windows that it is raining outside. Then the show is over and its time to “disappear,” as one of the birds says.
Other than being a larger space, and the windows having a little bit more of a sophisticated look, this show is the same as Disneyland. It is a nice air-conditioned respite on the hot humid days that are a part of the central Florida experience. I think the show needs a big revamp, like one I helped developed that never did come to fruition. But that’s all I can say about that because of my non-disclosure agreement.
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