Disneyland Folklore: The Jungle Cruise

Transcription: “At the end of every night, the Skippers yell, “Goodnight, Jungle Monster.” If you are a new skipper, you must throw a banana over the gorilla camp as a sacrifice. It used to be an actual garbage-panda-possum. Now, we think of it as a spirit…There is even a blog called, ‘Capturing the Jungle Monster’ where people can post stories about the Jungle Monster.” You also don’t want to scare the Jungle Monster by talking too loud or coming into your shift late. Whenever something bad happens on the ride, it is because someone angered the Jungle Monster.”


My informant used to be a cast member on Disney’s Jungle Cruise. As one of the park’s oldest rides, the attraction is associated with several forms of folklore. I asked my informant to describe the folklore. The ride takes visitors around to look at animatronic animals. However, the ride is also said to feature a specimen that is neither animatronic nor a visible. The creature is known as the Jungle Monster. Over the years, the myth of the Jungle Monster has varied. Originally, the creature was thought of as a hybrid animal, but the folklore has since evolved into spirit.

The folklore is lived out on a daily basis when at the end of each day, one lucky cast member gets to whisper goodnight to the Jungle Monster. My informant mentioned that saying goodnight to the Jungle Monster was seen as a privilege because it demonstrated seniority. The myth of the swamp monster has also become an initiation ritual. When a new skipper is added to the team, he or she must throw a banana into the gorilla camp as a sacrifice to the Jungle Monster. Once the new skipper completes this task, they have become an official Jungle Cruise skipper.

As with other mythical subjects, the Jungle Monster becomes a way to explain the world, in this case, the Jungle Cruise. Whenever something Malfunctions on the ride, the skippers reason that someone must have upset the Jungle Monster. One can upset the Jungle Monster by lacking on their duties or forgetting to say goodnight.