More New Old Construction - 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

More New Old Construction – 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

If you have been following these articles closely the last few months, you may have sensed a trend in many of the posts here. New construction (something that seemed to be constantly going on at Disneyland in the early 90s) was increasingly being used to create old looking environments. From the waterfront of New Orleans Square to the Jungle Cruise boats, everything new was old again.

As Adventureland was a major focus of activity through 1994, it only stood to reason that the entrance to the Jungle Cruise would also be renovated backwards.

Readers may remember this image from 1990, showing that entrance under a typical refurbishment. This entrance fronted a modest thatch-roofed structure that hugged the Jungle Cruise loading dock.


Here’s a view from a bit further back, offering a glimpse of some of the buildings in New Orleans Square just beyond.

And here is that same view today, thirty years late. So what, exactly happened, and why?

As you may recall, this was the first tip that change was in the air. The colorful steamers that had plied the “jungle rivers of the world” since 1955 had begun to appear in a far more weathered state. In this view, it is also possible to see the fairly simple shelter that housed the zig zag queue line for the attraction.

The appearance of a construction fence and this evocative sign erased any doubt about what was going on.

Even the entrance and base camp of the Swiss Family Treehouse underwent changes.

In order to create access to both the entrance and exit to the coming Indiana Jones attraction, the river itself was altered. The first bend, along with a scene depicting a hornbill confronting alligators was removed. And, in a surprising move, the entrance building itself was demolished, and a new one built in its place.

The new structure served several purposes. This new boathouse served as a visual marquee for the Jungle Cruise. It recalled an earlier structure, an actual boathouse, that had included a tower that allowed spotters to keep track of the progress of each of the boats. After Disneyland’s artificial jungle grew into an almost real one, it was no longer possible to see beyond the first layer of trees. Unlike the earlier structure, this one had a fully accessible second floor that doubled the capacity of the waiting riders while decreasing the overall footprint of the queue line. Most importantly, it served to reinforce the new, somewhat specific aesthetic that would fully arrive a year later with the opening of the Indiana Jones Adventure.

Thirty years ago, it was a gateway to usher guests back to the late 1930s, an era when bold explorers like Indiana Jones embarked on thrilling adventures. Despite its ramshackle appearance, this “new old” boathouse still serves the same purpose today.