It’s been well established that I am a fan of Adventure and Disneyland. So when presented with an opportunity for a special adventure themed behind-the-scenes breakfast at Walt’s Park, I jumped on the chance. The hefty price tag was not even enough to sway me (this event was not free). Presented as the Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast, this limited time event included breakfast inside the attraction followed by a private ride through the Jungle Cruise with the option of trying your hand at becoming one of the famed skippers.
Having now completed the rigorous Jungle Cruise Skipper training program, I have decided to chronicle my experiences for any who may seek to follow my footsteps. Keep in mind dear friends, membership in this program is hard earned (mostly by paying money), and will leave you forever changed (mostly because all other breakfasts will seem dull and boring afterwards).
Our group of fresh faced recruits (actually very sleepy and somewhat grouchy adults) started out with an early morning trek (5am!) through the wilds of a deserted Disneyland to reach our training location.Though the trek was dangerous (cold and a little dark) we were guided from the Grand Californian Hotel into the park by Jungle Guides carrying authentic looking lanterns. These guides had clearly already completed their training because they were not sleepy and grouchy but were instead alert and perky. And with great outfits.
Once deep inside the jungle (Adventureland) we were led into a dark cavern and a network of caves (the exit line of Indiana Jones), before finally emerging at our secret training location. The area is heavily forested and isolated (you really cant tell you are in Anaheim from this perspective!), but we were greeted warmly by more Guides who immediately handed us a delightful exotic fruit juice. Refreshing after the trials so far.
Alert and energetic once again, we were introduced to Mo. Mo was to be our lead trainer and mentor on this journey and was well qualified for the task being extremely experienced in the ways of the Jungle and possessing the exact perfect outfit for the job (You may also spot Mo out in the park wearing a different outfit, that of a Nobel Jedi).
After Mo felt that we were properly informed we were lead to our tables for sustenance before starting our training. Even amateurs know that you don’t venture into the Jungle without a hearty breakfast! The area was very dark at this point, the sun hadn’t come up yet. The animated animals that were so familiar to me during the daylight, where a bit more intimidating when seen up close and in the darkness. But Mo explained that as a Skipper, you must learn to expect the unexpected and always be wary of wildlife (even the electronic kind!)
My group was assigned to Table Two (clearly the best of all the tables) and we took several pictures to ensure the rescuers would have an accurate image to use if we became lost in the Jungle.
Our tables were set up on a flat piece of land directly behind a group of grazing Zebras on the Jungle Savannah (from the boats, you cant see this piece of land, it looks like a solid slope. But it exists. Trust me, I have been there). No expense was spared to welcome the new recruits and every comfort was seen to. Record players sat nearby with tunes from the 20’s -40’s playing to keep us entertained and at ease. One Guide even explained to me that the table linens had been had painted in Africa and flown in just for this event. They were beautiful, I wish I could have taken one home.
As the sun began to rise, and we all settled in, breakfast was served.
The food was incredible. Surprising, delicious and unique. We had pastries, juice, and coffee to start. And were then treated to the best yogurt parfait I have ever had. It had coconut, tropical fruits and edible flowers (which I did eat, they tasted strange, I think I’ll stick to looking at flowers in the future). It was fresh and delicious. For the main course, I had the vegetarian option, because well I am a vegetarian (and find it a little strange to consume animals while being surrounded by them. Those giraffes are scary!). I find that often the vegetarian option doesn’t feel crafted, but is rather a limited version of what everyone else got or a thrown together mix of vegetables. Its ok, I take what I can get, but this meal was the opposite. I’m not sure what it was called but seemed to be a breakfast hash of lentils, mushrooms, and fresh veggies. It was delicately seasoned and very tasty.
Once everyone had eaten, and prepared emotionally for the journey ahead (one last cup of coffee!) we were taken back around to the Jungle Cruise dock and loaded into boats for our Skipper Test. We were given postcards with bits of the approved Jungle Cruise guide script on them (in case you hadn’t memorized the entire speech by this point in your life. And honestly, if you were at this event, you had). But inventiveness and ingenuity are praised virtues for Jungle Cruise Skippers so we were encouraged to improvise any lines we wanted to when it was our turn to speak. I myself took on the high pressure task of delivering the well known line “And now, we’re approaching the beautiful Schweitzer Falls, named after that famous African explorer, Dr. Albert Falls.” And I nailed it!
Having successfully completed our training and proven our capabilities as Jungle Guides we returned to the dock to receive our graduation certificates and take a class photo.
After snapping some last minute pictures, we said good-bye to Mo and our new friends and headed back into Civilization. Full, satisfied, and energized after a morning in one of my favorite places, I have decided that every morning should start this way!
The event is no longer being offered, but if it pops up again my dear friends, don’t let the chance pass you by. Its an experience that shouldn’t be missed!
Apparently there are alot of perks to being a Disneyland cast member. One of them, is Sunrise Yoga in front of the Castle. We saw a large group of about 50 participating in this event as we walked by. It looked incredible and I asked to join but was told that this was only for cast members. Well done, Disney. I’ll have my application in shortly!