Adventureland

Adventureland Introduction

by josh on May 15, 2010

When walking up Main Street, USA, Adventureland is the first land on the left, directly underneath Frontierland.  Its theme is a hodgepodge of exotic locales, including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, South America, and the Pacific Islands.  There are two distinct areas in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland – The Arabian Village and Caribbean Plaza.  Most people are in too much of a hurry to appreciate the lush surroundings, so do yourself a favor and take at least a few minutes to look around in between dodging strollers and eating Mickey ice cream bars.  Adventureland features five attractions.  The two best and most popular are the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the CaribbeanThe Enchanted Tiki Room is a relaxing audio-animatronics theater show that is both seated and air-conditioned, making it a nice stop during hot afternoons.  Waits are almost never longer than it takes for the next show to begin.  The Magical Carpets of Aladdin is almost a carbon copy of other hub and spoke carousel rides like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and TriceraTop Spin, only this one has a distinctly Arabian theme.  Because it loads slowly, wait times can hit 20+ minutes in the afternoon, even with moderate crowds.  Finally, the Swiss Family Treehouse is a walking exhibit that towers high over the Magic Kingdom.  Although not particularly awesome in its own right, it does offer some outstanding views from the top and anyone who has seen the Swiss Family Robinson movie will enjoy it.  Waits are rare here too.

There are “only” three places to shop in Adventureland. Luckily, they offer a wide range of goods, including a wealth of merchandise from the popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise that will be popular with young boys (and perhaps grown men as well).  Adventureland does not offer a sit-down restaurant, but the re-themed Tortuga Tavern is usually open from 11am – 3pm for lunch.  Serving burritos and taco salads, it’s a nice change of pace from the usual Disney burgers and nuggets.  You’ll also find Aloha Isle here, home of the famous Dole Whip and other assorted ice cream products.

Visiting Adventureland after Storybook Circus, Fantasyland, and Frontierland makes the most sense.  There’s really nothing here that needs to be ridden immediately in the morning, although the Jungle Cruise does often see 30+ minute waits in the afternoon.  Getting a FASTPASS for Jungle Cruise and then riding Pirates of the Caribbean and visiting the Enchanted Tiki Room usually works well because FASTPASS return times are often just 40 to 60 minutes out.  If you don’t get to Jungle Cruise before 11am, FASTPASS is the best choice.  Wait times also decrease in the evening.

Scroll down to view the full reviews of the rides and attractions mentioned in this post or click here if you’ve landed on this post from a source other than the categories to your right.

Must visit: Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean

Visit in the Afternoon for a Break if Time Allows: Enchanted Tiki Room

Skippable: The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Swiss Family Treehouse

FASTPASS Available: Jungle Cruise

Morning Extra Magic Hours: None

Evening Extra Magic Hours: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean

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Enchanted Tiki Room

by josh on May 15, 2010

Enchanted Tiki Room

Opened: Originally opened October 1, 1971, reopened “Under New Management” April 5, 1998, reopened back to original theme on August 15, 2011

Location: Adventureland to the left of Sunshine Tree Terrace and behind Aladdin’s Magical Carpets

Extra Magic Hours: No

FASTPASS: No

Type: Animatronic theater show

Similar To: Country Bear Jamboree

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Low.  There is a short scene with lightning, thunder, and momentary darkness near the end of the show, but it shouldn’t overwhelm most kids.  If your child is easily frightened then this may be another to skip, but everyone over the age of six or so should be fine.

What to Expect: The Enchanted Tiki Room is another animatronics theater show.  Luckily, this one is nicely air-conditioned and the seats are mostly comfortable.  José, Michael, Pierre and Fritz serve as your aviary hosts as they introduce the various characters and musical sequences.  The show is lighthearted and intended to be funny, though a lot of the jokes seem to fall flat with contemporary audiences.

Where to Sit: Sit in the last row towards the center of the theater.  Because most of the “action” occurs overhead, guests sitting in the front will have to crane their necks to see what’s happening overhead.  The side of the theater you sit on is less important because the scenes are more or less the same on each side.

Exit: You’ll exit through doors near where you entered in an orderly fashion with Alddin’s Magical Carpets directly in front of you.  Because the theater is rarely more than half full, it only takes a minute to exit.  If you’d like to take pictures in the empty theater, do so quickly while the other guests exit.

When To Go: Visit in the afternoon, evening, or whenever you need a bit of a break.  Because the theater is rarely full (even during Easter or Christmas), there’s no hurry to get here.  The show is air-conditioned and relaxed, which makes it a good place to get out of the heat and away from the crowds.

Expect to Wait: Only as long as it takes for the next show to begin.  At the entrance, you’ll see a sign that indicates when the next show will begin.  Get in line about three minutes early so you don’t miss the standing pre-show.

Length: 10 minutes

Rating: 4/10

The Fire: On January 12, 2011, a small fire (purportedly) broke out in the attic of the Tiki Room.  It is thought that it destroyed some of the audio-animatronics, including Iago, though that was never confirmed by the company.  No guests were injured.  The attraction then went down for a lengthy refurbishment.  It reopened without the “Under New Management” shtick and returned closer to the original 1963 Disneyland version.

Commentary: While there’s no doubt that Enchanted Tiki Room is a classic Disney attraction, it doesn’t have quite the same effect on audiences in 2012 and beyond than it did in the 1960s and 70s.  It is a perfectly enjoyable show, but most kids don’t enjoy it much  Comfortable and air-conditioned it remains recommended, but not a “must do” for most guests, adults or otherwise.  It’s also worth experiencing to see how far Disney has come from the original attractions.

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Jungle Cruise

by josh on May 15, 2010

Jungle Cruise

Opened: October 1, 1971

Location: Down stairs across from Aladdin’s Magical Carpets

Extra Magic Hours: No

FASTPASS: Yes.  Return times are generally 40 to 60 minutes out regardless of crowd level.  After 12pm, you may need to rely on FASTPASS to avoid 30+ minute waits.

Type: Boat ride

Similar To: A mashup of Living with the Land and Great Movie Ride

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Very low.  You’ll enter a reasonably dark cave for a few moments, but there’s nothing here that should startle anyone.

What to Expect: The queue for the Jungle Cruise is deceptively long and winding so don’t ignore the posted wait time if the line appears short (or long) at first glance.  The queue is covered and cooler than many other parts of the Park, but it isn’t indoors or air-conditioned.  Once you make it to the front of the line you will board a slow-moving tramp-steamer themed boat that holds about 40 passengers and has a maximum speed of just over two miles per hour.  The boat will travel through several scenes that feature audio-animatronic animals from three continents and lush tropical landscaping.  Each boat features a live cast member that will narrate your voyage and tell a variety of bad jokes and puns.

Where to Sit: You want to be seated around the edge of the boat for the best views.  I prefer to be seated in the very front or back where it’s easier to see what’s ahead of you or get clearer pictures out the back with nobody’s head in the way.  There are seats in the middle that are less than ideal, particularly for photographs, but also because there’s no back and you’ll be staring directly into someone’s face.  When the cast member asks where you’d like to be seated, tell them along the edge in the front or back if it’s available.  Filling seating requests can be more difficult here because seating isn’t in rows.  They fill the boat based on where you are in line and where you’ll fit.  If a cast member gives you trouble over a seating request, offer that you’re happy to wait for the next boat.

When To Go: I recommend collecting FASTPASSes in the early or later afternoon and then getting in line to ride Pirates of the Caribbean or another close by Adventureland attraction with a minimal wait.  You should have plenty of time to do that along with Tiki Room and Swiss Family Treehouse before it’s convenient to return to Jungle Cruise.  Aloha Isle is nearby as well and serves the ever-popular Dole Whip http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dole_Whip which you may want to try.  Otherwise, return in the late evening when the line is shorter.  You don’t want to be stuck in the regular line in the afternoon because it’s long, boring, and still fairly hot.

Expect to Wait: This is a slow-loading ride that’s popular with families because of its proximity to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin.  Expect waits in the 30 minute range by lunch and 45 minute range in the afternoon.

Why So Serious? The original version of the Jungle Cruise featured a much more serious narrative, rather than the purposefully pun-ny, corny version you’ll hear today.  In addition, the water is dyed the dark color so you can’t tell that the water is less than five feet deep in most places.

Length: 9 minutes

Rating: 7/10

Commentary: Although it features mostly “dated” animatronics and effects, Jungle Cruise remains a lot of fun.  The experience hinges on your skipper who makes or breaks the experience.  Although a few lines are canned, the best skippers ad lib throughout the attraction, making each ride a relatively unique experience  Most kids are mesmerized by the scenes, effects, and sounds and adults generally find the attraction endearing.  It’s recommended, but may not be an absolute must do if you’re severely short on time.

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Magic Carpets of Aladdin

by josh on May 15, 2010

Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Opened: May 24, 2001

Location: In the middle of Adventureland in front of Sunshine Tree Terrace and across from Jungle Cruise

Extra Magic Hours: Evening

FASTPASS: No

Type: Carousel

Similar To: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, TriceraTop Spin

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Low.  As you can see, it goes up in the air and spins, but the ride itself is gentle and without many thrills.

What to Expect: The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is an attraction in the same vein as TriceraTop Spin and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.  Riders board magic carpet themed vehicles attached to the middle hub.  The hub spins and the vehicles in turn spin slowly along with it.  Riders in front can move the carpet up or down and riders in the back control whether or not the carpet is slightly tilted forward or backward.  One fun addition is the camel that spits water.  Riders can try to position their carpet to hit or miss the water stream.  The water stream is relatively weak, so don’t expect to get too wet even with multiple direct hits.  In your author’s opinion, the Magic Carpets are deceptively fun.  It’s very cool flying high over Adventureland.

Where to Sit: It isn’t particularly important, but the seats in front have a better view and you have more control over the carpet.

When To Go: If you’re skipping the roller coasters and Splash Mountain then you’ll want to make your way here after completing the child-friendly Fantasyland rides in the morning.  Otherwise, save this for after dinner, during a parade/fireworks, or during evening Extra Magic Hours.   Avoid between 11:30am – 5pm if possible.

Expect to Wait: This is an extremely slow loading ride, much like Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Storybook Circus.  Because of its prominence and the popularity of the characters involved, afternoon waits in the 15 to 20 minute range are common and waits may hit 30+ minutes when the overall crowd level is an eight or above or Magic Kingdom isn’t recommended.

Length: 90 seconds

Rating: 5/10

Commentary: This will be an entertaining ride for the younger set, but it’s an easy skip for adults unless there’s virtually no line.  I like to ride because the views of Adventureland are so great, but it probably isn’t worth waiting more than 10 minutes for.  If Magic Kingdom is open past 10pm, wait times after 10pm will be short because so many families will have left earlier.  Try to ride before 10:30am or after 9pm and the entire experience shouldn’t take more than ten minutes.  If you can swing that, I’d ride, even if you’re not expecting much based on what it looks like on the ground.

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Pirates of the Caribbean

by josh on May 15, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean

Opened: December 15, 1973

Location: Across from Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland.  As you’re walking to Frontierland from Adventureland, you’ll see it on the left after passing Enchanted Tiki Room.  From Frontierland, it’s located on the right before you arrive at Aladdin’s Magical Carpets or Jungle Cruise.

Extra Magic Hours: Evening

FASTPASS: No

Type: Dark ride

Similar To: Living with the Land, only with pirates.  Or an indoor Jungle Cruise with fewer animals and more pirates.

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Low.  Pirates of the Caribbean shouldn’t scare most kids.  As you might expect, there are about 60 animatronic pirates throughout the ride, so if your tyke has a particular fear of pirates then this ride may present a problem.  There is a short 14 foot drop at the beginning of the ride, but it’s entirely benign and shouldn’t upset anyone.  The rest of the ride is smooth sailing, so to speak.

What to Expect: The queue for Pirates of the Caribbean is inside and air-conditioned, which makes it a great candidate for an afternoon visit.  The queue isn’t among the most interesting, but there are a few things to look at and it generally moves fast.  Once you make it to the front of the line, you will board a boat that slowly meanders through the Pirate infested waters.  Be aware that some of the scenes are violent and do feature gun fire and cannon blasts.  It’s also dark throughout, but the scenes are well-lit and it’s always easy to see where you’re traveling.  In 2006, Disney updated Pirates of the Caribbean with characters from the movie of the same name.  You’ll now see Jack Sparrow throughout the ride as well as a special appearance by Davy Jones.

Where to Sit: Request the front row for the clearest views.  Because most of what’s going on is located to the sides of the boat, all rows have a similar view of what’s going on.  Those seated in the back shouldn’t get wet at all.  The front row may see a bit more spray, particularly after the short drop.

When To Go: Consider saving this one for the late afternoon or evening.  Lines are relatively short and the queue and ride are among the coolest (temperature wise) at the Magic Kingdom.  Pirates is usually a walk-on during evening Extra Magic Hours as well, especially in the last hour.  Consider returning for a second or third ride then.

Expect to Wait: Lines are usually under 20 minutes, but may peak in the 30 minute range.  Actual waits are often shorter than what’s posted.  During Peak and Holiday season the lines will be longer.  Wait times of 50 minutes aren’t unheard of when the overall crowd level is a 9 or above and Magic Kingdom isn’t recommended.  Return later if the line exceeds 20 minutes.

Madame Tussaud Anyone? Interestingly enough, Pirates of the Caribbean was originally planned as a wax museum at Disneyland in California.  It was never intended to be part of Disney World at all because Disney thought Orlando was too close to the actual Caribbean to be of enough interest.  Instead, Disney planned a similar attraction featuring cowboys and Indians for the Magic Kingdom.  So many guests complained about the lack of a Pirates ride in Orlando that Disney ultimately chose to build a similar attraction to the original in Disneyland.  Pirates of the Caribbean is also the last ride Walt Disney personally worked on.

Length: 10 minutes

Rating: 9/10

Commentary: Pirates of the Caribbean is an amazingly immersive experience and one of Disney’s best, most classic attractions.  You will almost never see anyone leave Pirates without a smile on their face and it is many people’s favorite ride.  It’s also easily accessible and guests of any age should thoroughly enjoy it.  It may still upset the most prone to fear and anxiety because it does get dark and loud in certain parts.  You may also not be able to convince them that there won’t be a large drop like in Splash Mountain, even though there isn’t one.  All in all, Pirates is a must-visit.

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Swiss Family Treehouse

by josh on May 15, 2010

Swiss Family Treehouse

Opened: October 1, 1971

Location: Adventureland across from Aloha Isle.

Extra Magic Hours: No

FASTPASS: No

Type: A walk-through replica

Similar To: Unique

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Low.  There’s nothing intrinsically scary about the Treehouse, but it is high up on the top.  Those with an extreme fear of heights may want to skip it.  With the narrow walkways, it’s difficult or impossible to turn around and walk back in the opposite direction.

What to Expect: The Swiss Family Treehouse is modeled to look like the treehouse from the Disney Movie, Swiss Family Robinson.  You proceed to walk up and through it.  The level of detail is striking, but generally goes underappreciated because so few people are familiar with the Swiss family or their story.  The Treehouse also provides a great photo opportunity and view from the top, overlooking the entire Magic Kingdom.

When To Go: Visit in the afternoon, after you’ve completed most of your itinerary.  Although it’s outside, the Treehouse is well shaded and cooler than other exposed parts of the Kingdom.

Expect to Wait: Waits of any appreciable length are rare.  At most, you may find a wait around ten minutes if you visit when the crowd level is an eight or above and Magic Kingdom is expressly not recommended.

Length: It takes about 10 minutes to walk through and casually check out the rooms and exhibits.  Because walkways are narrow, it’s difficult to go any faster or slower than guests around you.

Rating: 5/10

Commentary: The Swiss Family Treehouse is an unnecessary attraction for most people, unless you have a particular affinity for the Swiss Family Robinson or treehouses in general.  If you have the time then it’s certainly worth a look, but I wouldn’t recommend it over riding one of the major rides.  On the plus side, it does offer some gorgeous views of the Magic Kingdom and some shade.

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