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Posted by on Apr 10, 2013

It’s a Jungle Out There: The History of Jungle Cruise Horticulture

Since the day Disneyland park opened, the Jungle Cruise has been one of its most popular attractions. As you cruise the rivers of the world, you’re surrounded by fascinating animal life and a lush jungle of exotic trees, plants and flowers – a unique ecosystem that has its own storied past.


When building the Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney turned to Imagineer and horticulturist Bill Evans to create the landscape. Rather than create a true-to-life jungle though, Bill’s goal was to develop a “Hollywood Jungle,” a mixture of exotic plants and trees that would give the feeling of traveling through exciting and uncharted territories. To create his Hollywood Jungle here in Anaheim, Bill developed some intrepid techniques, like smuggling plant seeds inside the cuffs of his socks and planting orange trees upside down to resemble mangroves.

Bill also worked with the site’s existing horticulture when designing the Jungle Cruise. Originally planned for the east side of Disneyland park (where Tomorrowland would be built), Adventureland was moved to the west side of Main Street, U.S.A., to incorporate the large eucalyptus trees planted there by the orange farmers who previously owned the land. Planted to function as a windbreak for the orange groves, these trees made the perfect visual barrier, hiding all the mysteries that lay within the Jungle Cruise.


Through the years, the tall trees engulfing the Jungle Cruise have created a lush canopy that regulates the temperature inside this Hollywood Jungle, allowing plants that you won’t find anywhere else in Southern California to thrive right here in Disneyland park.

If you want to learn more about the horticulture of the Jungle Cruise, as well as other areas of Disneyland park, check out the Cultivating the Magic Guided Tour, where you will discover how horticulture is used to help tell stories and helped achieve Walt Disney’s vision for his original Magic Kingdom.

It’s a Jungle Out There: The History of Jungle Cruise Horticulture by Erin Glover: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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