The Jungle Cruise is a classic favorite at Walt Disney World. Guests board canopied steamer boats for a leisurely cruise down the river, complete with corny jokes from the skippers. During your trip you’ll encounter animals, landscapes, and cultural references to four different regions of the globe. While the friendly skippers and their groaners are a big part of the fun, there are real facts mixed into their banter. Believe them when they tell you how long the Nile River is and how you can tell Indian elephants from African elephants.
In fact, the original concept for the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland was a much more serious, educational experience based on Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventure films. Walt famously wanted to have real animals in the attraction, but this proved to be a logistical nightmare. So the Imagineers created animatronic animals and a storyline that took guests down four of the world’s rivers: the Amazon, the Congo, the Nile, and the Mekong.
The Jungle Cruise is one of the longest rides at Magic Kingdom, so it’s a perfect opportunity to rest your feet as you take in some fun facts (along with those silly skipper antics). You may be surprised how much you can learn from the Cruise!
FL Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.L.14.3, SC.2.L.17.2, SC.5.L.17.1
FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
One of the first attractions you will see as you enter Adventureland is the impressive Swiss Family Treehouse. It was one of the original attractions to Magic Kingdom when the park opened, and it remains a classic favorite for many. For young children or those who don’t remember the story of the Robinson Family, there is a plaque just outside the entrance to the tree that explains how the treehouse came to be.
The Swiss Family Treehouse is an engineering marvel. As you walk through, notice the many parts and pieces from the wrecked ship that the family used to construct their new home. Challenge kids (or yourself) to identify as many parts as you can.
Perhaps the most impressive of the family’s constructions is their method for obtaining running water. It begins with the great waterwheel at the bottom of the tree and an inventive pulley system that brings the water to the top branches. You can trace the path of the water from that system, down the channels of bamboo troughs, to its final destination in the kitchen.
The Swiss Family Treehouse is open to all ages, however be aware that it is a walking attraction and does contain many stairs (116 to be exact). But those who make it six stories to the top will be rewarded with spectacular views of Magic Kingdom. Older kids studying simple machines and those with an interest in old world technology will definitely get a kick out of this attraction.
STEM Topic: Science, Engineering
FL Next Gen Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.P.12.1, SC.1.P.12.1, SC.4.P.10.4, SC.5.P.13.1