The Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast is a premiere experience that is currently being offered at the Disneyland Resort through December 21. The event offers guests the chance to have breakfast amidst the animals in the African Veldt following which, a crash course in being a Jungle Cruise Skipper.
An Early Morning Breakfast in the Jungle
The morning began early, as one would expect, at the Grand Californian Hotel at 5:30 AM. Guests of the Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast were offered complimentary valet parking. Once out of your car, Jungle Cruise Skippers with lanterns were greeting everyone saying “Jambo.” The feeling was quiet and almost secretive. Soon everyone was registered and after being asked to not take pictures while walking to the Jungle Cruise ( to maintain the magic, a very reasonable request), it was off to Disneyland and the Jungle Cruise.
After a quick group photo by the Mickey Pumpkin on Main Street, USA it was off to Adventureland! The group was led by the Skippers with their lanterns into Adventureland and right past the Jungle Cruise. The entrance to the Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast was actually through the exit of the Indiana Jones Adventure. There are two big doors about halfway down, the left (south?) of which opened to a road leading into the jungle. Also standing there was our safari guide for the morning, Mo Williams.
Mo Williams welcomed the group to the Jungle and helped wake up the crowd (coffee had not been served yet). After the brief introduction by Williams it was time to move into the jungle and have breakfast. Tables had been set up on a dirt road behind the African Veldt. Along the road to the tables, cast members stood with juice and warm welcomes. Numbers that had been assigned at registration directed guests to the numbered tables. The tables were set up right behind the “sleeping zebra” scene basically. It was very dark still but the ambience was wonderful… dare I say magical?
Shortly after being seated coffee or water was offered as guests wandered around taking pictures in the dark jungle. The coffee was french press, fresh, and quite good. A few minutes later a chia parfait with exotic fruit and a flower was delivered. It was a wonderful start to the morning. It was creamy and not too sweet for those of us who aren’t really morning people. The star fruit and flower on top were both edible as well. The chef soaks the chia seeds for around six hours in preparation for this. Pastries were also delivered in a basket that, other than the croissants if I understood correctly, were made specifically for the event. The main course was delicious, but I will admit, by the time it arrived I was already pretty full. It included scrambled eggs in an iron looking dish, duck sausage, bacon, and a potato with onion hash. It was hearty and if the weather had been ten degrees cooler so there was a bit of a crispness in the air, it would have been a wonderful contrast between the warmth of breakfast and the coolness of the morning (thankfully it wasn’t a hot morning though).
By the time the main course had arrived, the sun had also appeared. It was a lovely setting. To be completely honest, it would have been perfect to just be sitting there absorbing the atmosphere with a cup of coffee.
Becoming a Jungle Cruise Skipper
During breakfast, Mo Williams visited all the tables with cards. The cards represented teams and also jokes. Our table was assigned to team Rhino. As the cards were handed out, Mo Williams also instructed everyone to create Skipper names for the upcoming cruise. Dapper DAPs went on the front of my card. I was assigned a joke about the local natives having a celebration and then attempting to translating…well you know how it goes.
After breakfast Mo Williams corralled everyone for the trek to the Jungle Cruise. After a brief stop to rest before the journey (restroom break), it was time to learn some chants that correlated with each team. Each of the teams had their own chant and most people heartily engaged in the activity, which was surprising for it being so early. Once the teams had been properly encouraged, it was time to go to the jungle. Each team was put in a boat with a skipper that was tasked with training these future skippers.
The Skipper for our boat was Karl. First things first? Board the boat and get a photo with Karl (the Disney photographers were definitely busy all morning). He was genuinely funny and a great leader for our expedition. He gave a brief overview of what it is to be a skipper and what was expected with the most important thing being: keep the microphone to the side of your mouth. “Your cruise can’t lose if you say your spiel with pride and hold your mic up close and to the side.” This was very good advice. The other important thing? Timing. With those words of advice, it was time to go off into the jungle for the first of two trips.
The actual Jungle Cruise is where the cards that were passed out earlier came into play. Each card had a team name one one side and a photo with a joke on it on the other. When the boat arrived at the location that matched the photo and joke, that skipper would take the auxiliary mic and share their joke or one that they had written. This was a very good way to do it as it didn’t require anyone to learn the entire spiel of the Jungle Cruise in a very short time. It also allowed for various personality types to still have fun and not be too stressed for whatever reason. Karl did a great job of creating an environment that was relaxed and low pressure. The result was a group that quickly bonded and genuinely were laughing at jokes that most had heard dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of times.
After the first cruise around the jungle, a second batch of cards were handed out and it was time to do it all again. There was definitely a level of relaxation and confidence in the boat during the second cruise. It really was smart to add a second time around. I received a joke revolving around the rope fence between the Jungle Cruise and the exit to the Indiana Jones Adventure. It was not the one about the most dangerous animal in the wilderness surprisingly enough!
Mo Williams greeted (and counted to make sure everyone returned from the jungle) the boat as it returned from the second journey. On a barrel sat a box with a mask on top. The front of the box had a photo that had been taken before the first cruise with Karl. The rest of the boxes for the Skippers on our boat were lined up on a table at the exit as we disembarked. Photos were taken of us receiving our boxes, with our boxes after that, and then signing the Fraternal League of Secret Skippers book. There was more about the Fraternal League of Secret Skippers that was included throughout the morning but… it’s a secret. Once all those pictures had been taken another one was taken in front of the entrance to the Jungle Cruise.
Once everyone’s boats had returned and photos had been taken, goodbyes were said by Mo Williams and the Jungle Cruise team. Everyone was then escorted back down Main Street, USA and out the gate just a few minutes before Disneyland opened for the day.
Thoughts about the Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Experience
The Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari is a very unique experience that most people will only dream of. How many people do you know who can say that they had breakfast in the Jungle Cruise? With only about 30 people per outing (approximately by my count), it was a group experience that wasn’t too large or too small. It was a good size for everyone to quickly feel familiar and friendly with each other and also with the Cast Members hosting.
Flow for the morning was at a decent speed. Clearly thought had been put into every detail to make sure that nothing was too slow or too fast. The result was an experience that didn’t feel either rushed or drawn out. The one point that did feel slightly slow was the very end as we waited for everyone to take pictures. This probably should be expected though.
Our breakfast was delicious and honestly, way more than I generally have for breakfast so I was unable to finish. I have no complaints about this though. The wait staff was properly attentive and helpful. Several times throughout registration and then when we arrived at the breakfast locations, the Disney cast members made sure that there were no allergies or food restrictions for everyone. It almost seemed like an over abundance of caution was displayed on this one thing but… if I had a food restriction or allergy I would be glad that all of this was considered. And even though I don’t, it was a good thing to do.
The Jungle Cruise Skippers that were hosting us throughout the morning as we were eating breakfast and then after were incredibly friendly, witty, and laid back. It didn’t feel like they were there to be babysitters, instead it felt like they were hosts that were along for the adventure with us (even though they were there to keep us safe as well). Our boat’s skipper Karl was considerate to the fact that not everyone might want to be center stage and hold a mic (everyone did want to though) and was also incredibly funny. He was eliciting genuine laughs from the boat within moments of leaving the dock. He did a good job of engaging with his skippers in training, keeping the ride entertaining, and then encouraging when there were jokes to be told by these new Skippers.
The safari guide, Mo Williams, was fantastic. He was energetic, funny, and friendly. He was the glue that held the story together of this safari adventure. This was a case where I was a glad that we weren’t in a group of six though as if I had been singled out before I had received my coffee… I might not have been amused. Thankfully, he really didn’t single anyone out unless they put themselves out there. The result was that I don’t think this adventure would be intimidating for those who like to blend into the crowd. It appeared that everyone had fun with him.
The last thing to answer is the $300 question: Is the Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari worth $300? This is actually hard question for me to answer because it all comes down to value. If you have $300 to spend on an experience and you love the Jungle Cruise and Disneyland, it most definitely is. If you aren’t a huge Jungle Cruise fan and don’t like early mornings, this probably wouldn’t be as much for you. If this ends up being the cost for these types of premium experiences, I would advise people to choose what to experience based on the level of connection one has to the experience. Not all experiences will have the same value to those experiencing it. So… choose wisely.
Judging off the reaction of our group yesterday, I would be surprised if the Disneyland Resort didn’t offer more of these premium experiences in the future. I would also be surprised if they didn’t fill up. What makes this work is what has always made Disney work: Quality and storytelling. The Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari isn’t just breakfast, it is the full experience and immersive story that is offered around the breakfast. I, for one, am very glad to have been able to have my coffee in the jungle and get my crash course as a Jungle Cruise Skipper.