In this second oral history of Disneyland's iconic attraction, the World Famous Jungle Cruise, dozens of skippers, from the 1950s to the present, share harrowing, humorous, sometimes even horrific tales of their pun-fraught voyages and their behind-the-scenes hellraising.
The Jungle Cruise is that most unusual of Disney attractions where the ride itself is secondary to the cast member. Once the boat leaves the dock, Disney no longer controls the experience; your skipper does.
Former skipper and now history professor David John Marley presents the uncensored stories of six decades of Jungle Cruise skippers. Their never-before-spieled tales include:
What happens in the jungle, stays in the jungle—except now it's all in this book.
Skipper Stories Glossary
Chapter 1: High Hopes and Low Standards
Chapter 2: Training Days
Chapter 3: Jokes
Chapter 4: Joke Slayers
Chapter 5: Jungle After Dark
Chapter 6: Fun on the Dock
Chapter 7: Skippers Are the Worst
Chapter 8: This Isn't the Jungle Cruise
Chapter 9: Guests Are the Worst
Chapter 10: Like a Boss
Chapter 11: In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room
Chapter 12: Work Life
Chapter 13: Celebrities Are People, Too
Chapter 14: It's a Real Jungle Out There
Chapter 15: 3 Shot, 4 Shot, 6 Shot
Chapter 16: Skipper Safari
Chapter 17: It's a Holiday in Cambodia
Chapter 18: Grad Nites
Chapter 19: Changes Over Time
Chapter 20: Tales of Love and Occasionally Outright Sexual Harassment
Chapter 21: Skippers After Hours
Chapter 22: Once a Skipper, Always a Skipper
Chapter 23: No Wonder They Got Fired
The only thing sure to happen in life are death, taxes, and sequels to popular things. The response to Skipper Stories, the first volume in this series, has been fantastic, thanks to everyone who bought a copy or came out to hear me give a talk about my favorite Disneyland attraction. When I was working on Skipper Stories I sometimes found it difficult to get people to sit down for an interview. My wife told me not to worry, that once the first book came out I would get flooded with people looking to share their stories.
She was right, as usual.
Calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages all came in fast. I had so many people to interview that I had to finally tell some that their interview would have to wait for another book. If I wanted to wait another year, this book would be the size of a telephone book, if anyone remembers what those are.
More Skipper Stories features interviews with more skippers than the first book. I would say about a third more, but I’m really bad at math, so let’s just say “more.” Another interesting thing is that most of the people I interviewed wanted to talk on the record. The few anonymous stories here are either from the interviews I did or from skippers I know who only had a story or two to share and wanted to keep their name out.
There is a bond between skippers no matter what era. I talked with skippers from the 1970s and it was like I had worked with them. I was honored to be invited to a reunion of skippers from Walt Disney World, and although their Jungle Cruise is different than the one in Disneyland, we had an instant bond.
Disney likes to focus on the stars, on Walt and the Imagineers who designed these great attractions. In doing so, they neglect the stories of the people who made the attractions run. At a ride like Peter Pan or Space Mountain, it is mostly pushing a button and letting the ride work its magic. However, at the Jungle Cruise it takes a skipper to make Walt’s vision of the attraction come to life. This book is part of my on-going effort to tell the stories of the people who literally put their blood, sweat, and tears into Disneyland everyday.
I kept them in their own words and occasionally unique syntax. Some of these chapters titles may sound familiar, but I used stories and told tales you didn’t see in the first book. Also, I didn’t take out all the swear words like I did in Skipper Stories, so you’ve been warned. It’s not bad, but still.
Those of you who work at the Jungle Cruises in Florida, Hong Kong, or Tokyo, you wonder where your book is? It’s coming.
But now that you’ve read the introduction, you’re ready to enter the crazy world of Disneyland’s World-Famous Jungle Cruise!
David John Marley, a former Disneyland Jungle Cruise skipper has a Ph.D. in modern American History from George Washington University. Marley is the creator of the first-ever class specifically on the history of Disneyland. He is also a member of the Hyperion Historical Alliance, a group of scholars who work with The Walt Disney Company. Marley has appeared on the History Channel, published articles in scholarly journals, a chapter for an anthology on the civil rights movement, over a dozen book reviews, and editorials for the History News Network. He has worked as a performer and comedy writer for Disneyland and is the producer of the popular Jungle Cruise based comedy show The Skipper Show (facebook.com/skippershow).