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The Disney Dish with Jim Hill Episode 460:  Looking back at “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats” game

Today’s show is sponsored by Rocket Money , Agent of Excellence , and Touring Plans . We thank them for sponsoring our show.


Normal Open: Welcome back to another edition of the Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill. It’s me, Len Testa, and this is our show for the week of Shmursday, January 1, 2024.  Happy New Year everyone!


On the show today: News! Surveys! And in listener questions, who would pay the outrageous sum of $5 for dinner.  Then in our main segment, Jim gives us the history of Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats in Adventureland.


Let’s get started by bringing in the man who wishes “monster truck” meant the same thing as “clown car”.  It’s Mr. Jim Hill.   Jim, how’s it going?

BCX Show: Let’s get started by bringing in the man …. It’s Mr. Jim Hill. Jim, how’s it going?



iTunes:  Thanks to our Patreon subscribers including Easily Reachable Impossible Conclusion, Jeff Kelly, Alicia McCallen, Scott Wortman, Joshua Waire, JDarkGreen, John Kleindl, and Phantom23.  Jim, these are the seasonal Imperial Stormtroopers working on the First Order’s Star Destroyer orbiting Batuu. They say everyone looks forward to today, when Lieutenant Bek and Kylo Ren take over the Star Destroyer kitchen to make Hoppin’ John like an old married couple, while General Hux makes chips and dip for the football games.  True story.


Jim, our friend Bono might think nothing changes on New Year’s Day.  But in this case it has - the show has moved exclusively to Patreon. Sign up at and don’t forget to close down your Bandcamp subscription after that.


The news is sponsored by TouringPlans helps you save time and money at theme parks like Walt Disney World.  Check us out at



  • Over the holidays, Genie+ sold out at DHS at the new $37 per person level. That’s the first time that happened.
  • Last month we mentioned that Disney had banned third-party tours inside the parks.  And we mentioned a Business Insider quote from a Disney spokesperson who said that DAS abuse had seen an uptick.  
  • And I mention this because it looks like that during the holidays, Disney started checking DAS use a bit more closely, to ensure that the person who booked the DAS was actually going to ride.  
  • At least, I think this is what’s going on, because I saw several groups turned away from using the Lightning Lane when they couldn’t show the CM that the person with the DAS was actually in the group.  
  • Over at the Studios, for example, I saw a group of young men get turned away from the Lightning Lane line when none of them answered to the name “Kaylee” that popped up on a MagicBand scan.


Jeff sent in a holiday-themed survey that I don’t think we’ve seen before.  This one is for EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays.

Then asks for ratings for:

  • Holiday decor
  • Holiday-dressed characters
  • Shopping & Merch
  • Entertainment
  • Food & Bev
  • The Odyssey Pavilion (Santa & food)
  • Candlelight Processional (*with Jordan Fisher)
  • Kids’ Chalk Art
  • Art in Performance
  • Attraction overlay for Living with the Land
  • Olaf’s Scavenger Hunt
  • Holiday Storytellers
  • Did anyone use the Festival Passport booklet?

Shawn sent in a copy of The Blue Bayou Restaurant menu from 1977:

Shawn also sent in this bit of imagined dialog:

"I'll have the veal cordon bleu."

"Sir, you realize that will cost you four dollars and thirty five cents? Perhaps you would prefer the chicken."

Listener Questions

A bunch of folks wrote in to correct our naming of the holiday-themed park in Indiana. It’s Holiday World, not Holiday Land. And that explains the coal in our stockings this year.  

Laurel asks:

A question for Jim: Can Tim Burton comfortably retire on just the royalties from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack? Because that thing is everywhere now.

Last week we read an email from Nick, who works at the Orlando Science Center, about the dinosaurs that Disney donated to the Center years ago.  And our intrepid field reporter, Christina, visited the Orlando Science Center this week, and said the dinosaurs are indeed fantastic.  And she even met Nick, who’s a star in his own right.  Thank you, Nick!

On last week’s show we said that Disney once considered a Christmas-themed attraction in the UK pavilion, based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Asim sent in with a Muppet Christmas Carol meme in which Ebeneezer Scrooge opens the window on Christmas morning and shouts “You there, Boy! What is the price of Genie+ at the Magic Kingdom today?”    

Research/Patents (use query "disney enterprises".as AND "theme park".ab)


We’re going to take a quick commercial break.  When we come back, Jim gives us the history of Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats.  We’ll be right back.

MAIN TOPIC - iTunes Show

Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats
Feature Story

After you vacation at Walt Disney World, you – of course – remember the big things. The first time you got to ride a brand-new thrill ride like “TRON: Lightcyle Run.” Or when you first got to see a brand-new nighttime show like “LuminoUS: The Symphony of US.”

But what’s really interesting is – as time passes – it’s the smaller things that happened on that trip which now start to seem more important. Hanging out on your balcony at Bay Lake Tower with a cup of coffee while the rest of the family is still asleep, watching the monorails roll by and boats glide across Seven Seas Lagoon. Your Dad springing for one of those over-sized balloons as your family walked up Main Street, U.S.A. Or you & your brother competing against one another in Adventureland as you played that “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats” game.

It’s that game Len & I are going to talk about on today’s show. Which – even though it’s been closed for more than 11 years now (It was torn out in September of 2012 to make room for more stroller parking for people who were queuing up to experience the Jungle Cruise) still has a lot of fans. Who – as it turns out – will pay a pretty penny to get that chunk of their childhood back.

So how did “Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats” come to be built in Adventureland at WDW’s Magic Kingdom in the late 1990s? Our story actually starts out on the West Coast. Not at Disneyland Park, mind you. But – rather – at the Disneyland Hotel in the late 1960s.

This was when Jack Wrather (who owned & operated the Disneyland Hotel at that time) was looking for ways to entertain Guests during Disneyland’s off-season (Those times of year where that family fun park would be closed on Mondays & Tuesdays). This is when Jack had the centermost portion of his hotel (The open area between the Marina, the Sierra & the Bonita Towers) turned into a maritime-themed entertainment complex called “Seaports of the Pacific.”

Now earlier in 2023, we talked at length on this show about this ambitious transformation of the Disneyland Hotel (EX: That permanent boat show aspect of “Seaports of the Pacific.” Where – if you had the mind to do it – you could purchase a 40-foot-long cabin cruiser as part of your Disneyland vacation). So there’s no need now to go over that part of this story again.

But that said, I want to direct your attention to one specific aspect of “Seaports of the Pacific.” Which was the remote controlled “Tugboat” game. Here, Guests could kill some time at the Disneyland Hotel by pumping a few quarters into a free-standing console that then had a ship’s wheel on it. This would then give the Guest control over one of 22 miniature tugboats that operated in a pool at the hotel.

These things were good sized – 34 inches long, 16 inches wide and 11 inches tall. And Guests were able to steer them around a scale model of the Queen Mary (Which Jack Wrather also owned and was berthed down in Long Beach Harbor). Fun way to fill 10 or 15 minutes at the Disneyland Hotel.

Anyway … In January of 1988, The Walt Disney Company bought the 84 acres around Disneyland Park that the Wrather Corporation owned. Which included the Disneyland Hotel. Michael Eisner – of course – wanted to turn that property into a much more Disney World-like resort. Those efforts continue today.

But after that transaction was completed, Michael did a walk-thru of the Disneyland Hotel and noted that tugboat game sitting there in the corner of the “Seaports of the Pacific.” The way I hear it, Michael asked how much money that game made annually for the hotel and was genuinely startled when he heard the number.

Okay. So we now jump ahead to the mid-1990s. Which is when The Walt Disney Company has decided that all aspects of the corporation must now become profit centers. Which is tough to do when you’re Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.

I mean, yes. You have rides & shows there like “The Jungle Cruise,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Sunshine Pavilion,” and “The Swiss Family Treehouse.” But those are old, established businesses. And the Parks are now looking for new revenues streams for the Parks.

Adventureland Plaza has a surprising amount of open, undeveloped real estate (This is where “The Flying Carpets of Agrabah” would be open in May of 2001). Eisner reportedly remembered that tugboat game he saw during his walk-thru of the Disneyland Hotel back in January of 1988 and supposedly suggested that the Imagineers create a Jungle Cruise-themed version of that game.

Interesting side note: Imagineers designed “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats” but did not fabricate them. This work was farmed out to Cinnabar Florida. Which was – and still is – an Orlando-based company located down on McLeod Road that describes itself as “ … a full service provider to the entertainment industry, which includes theme parks, television shows and ads, movies, museums, and special venues. We bring your creativity to reality.”

Anyway … Cinnabar took the Imagineer’s designs and then created this surprising sturdy set-up right next to the exit of the Jungle Cruise. That was the kind-of-ingenious part of “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Cruise” ‘s physical set-up. It was the first thing that Guests saw when they got off the Junior Cruise. And if they had really enjoyed that experience and then wanted to extend their Jungle Cruise adventure … Well, all it took was a few tokens.

Very much a copy of the “Tugboat game” at the Disneyland hotel. Each radio-controlled boat was steered by a ship’s wheel which stood on a console facing the small pool that these junior jungle cruise boats puddled around in.

Loved the sign for this Adventureland attraction. Four skulls piled on top of one another. “Junior Jungle Cruise” written on a life preserver below that.

The “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats” game cost two tokens to play. You had to go to a nearby machine in the Jungle Cruise exit area to exchange $1 & $5 bills for tokens. You then pumped those tokens into one of 16 control station facing the tiny pool that the “Junior Jungle Boats” operated out of. Each of these control stations consisted of a ship’s wheel and a throttle. The number on that control station told you which “Junior Jungle Boat” you were controlling.

Once the game officially got started, you were supposed to steer your “Junior Jungle Boat” through an aquatic obstacle course which consisted of a miniature volcano, spears sticking up out of the water, tiki god statues, an elephant shrine and ancient ruins.

Easy to get the hang of. Adults & kids all enjoyed “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Cruise.” Very profitable. So profitable that the Disneyland Hotel – which had ripped out its “Tugboat Game” as part of the Disney-ification of that hotel (This is when the Marina, Sierra & Bonita Towers of that hotel became the Fantasy, Adventure & Frontier wings of that resort) – actually revisited this idea in the late 1990s. Which is why – in December of 1999 -- the Safari Adventure (which was sub-titled “A Remote Jungle Cruise”) opened at the Disneyland Hotel along with the Lost Bar.

Somewhat more elaborate than the one built at the Magic Kingdom in Florida (This remote-controlled Jungle Cruise game was built by Thola Productions, rather than Cinnabar). Had a beautiful miniature recreation of the Jungle Cruise building at Disneyland at water’s edge. Cool effects like a elephant who sprayed water out of his trunk to extinguish a fire. Likewise a fierce gorilla who guarded a rope suspension bridge.

Same as “Shrunken Ned’s” in Orlando. Pump some tokens into a control station, grab that ship’s wheel and push forward that throttle. 5 to 10 minutes of fun (depending on how many token you put in the thing).

All good things come to an end. The Disneyland Hotel version of this attraction (i.e., the “Safari Adventure”) closed in 2010 so that the Lost Bar could then be transformed into Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.

Whereas the original in Orlando (i.e., “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats”) closed in September of 2012 because … Well, the thinking at that time was that the Disney theme parks really needed to do more to capitalize on the then-thriving “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise. Which is why the “Pirate’s Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas” interactive game went live in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom in May of 2013. Five different treasure hunts.

Plus – as I mentioned earlier – Adventureland really needed more stroller parking. Especially in the vicinity of the Jungle Cruise. So the tiny lagoon where “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats” got encroached upon.

What’s that line from Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” song? “They paved paradise and put a parking lot.”

“Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats” in Orlando / “Safari Adventure: A Remote Jungle Cruise” in California relatively short-lived. Still fondly remembered. Kids who played these games while vacationing at WDW or at the Disneyland Hotel now paying big bucks to reclaim that part of their childhood.

Control console with ship’s wheel & throttle (on the other side “Jungle Expedition Skipper Training School, established 1854") came up for auction recently. Starting bid of $1500. Expected going price of $5000.

Episode of Season 15 of “Pawn Stars.” Someone came into the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop looking to sell a miniature tramp steamer that was used in the “Safari Adventure” game at the Disneyland Hotel. Rick Harrison brought in an expert to evaluate this piece of Disneyana. They actually tested this remote-controlled boat to see if it still worked by taking it for a spin in one of the pools on the Las Vegas Strip. Worked like a charm.

Expert said that this piece of the “Safari Adventure” game at the Disneyland Hotel was worth $7000. Rick convinced the guy who was selling it to him to let that remote-controlled boat go for just $4300.

You want to see what one of these things looked like in real life today, go to the Skipper Cantina at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. There – among the artifacts on display – you’ll find the Molopo Marie. That’ll give you some idea how tiny the Junior Jungle Boats actually were.

As for Shrunken Ned himself (Whose full name was supposedly Colonel Nedley Lostmore) … Well, he lives on (sort of) as a totem inside of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

Though – if you asked Disneyland fans – they’d tell you that they preferred the version of Shrunken Ned that used to live on in a fortune telling machine that was located in the South Seas Traders store at that theme park. Imagineer Eddie Sotto designed this machine in such a way that Shrunken Ned then became  “The Jungle’s Only Self-Service Witch Doctor.”

That’s another one of those artifacts you can find if you look carefully around the displays inside of the Skipper Cantina. On one of the bulletin boards there is one of the prescription cards that Shrunken Ned used to dispense from that machine.

Again, not the biggest & grandest attraction at the Disney Parks. But – based on the prices that theme park fans are willing to pay today to own a chunk of “Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats” or the “Safari Adventure” – still fondly missed.


That’s going to do it for the show today.  You can help support our show by subscribing over at, where we’re posting exclusive shows every week.   Our latest show has behind-the-scenes stories, photos, and video from Imagineer Jim Shull, who was there during the whole thing.  Check it out at

Patreon: That’s going to do it for the show today.  Thanks for subscribing and supporting the Disney Dish.

ON NEXT WEEK’S SHOW:  Jim tells us the history of California Screamin’ at Disney California Adventure.


You can find more of Jim at, and more of me, len at


iTunes Show:  We’re produced spectacularly by Eric Hersey, who’ll be astrally projecting himself to the 2024 Iowa Metaphysical Fair beginning Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, just off Grand Avenue, in beautiful, downtown Des Moines, Iowa.


While Eric’s doing that, please go on to iTunes and rate our show and tell us what you’d like to hear next.

For Jim, this is Len, we’ll see you on the next show.