The African Queen/Jungle Cruise Comparison

The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel. The screenplay was adapted primarily by James Agee. It was photographed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff. The film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor – his only Oscar) and Katherine Hepburn.

     Set below includes 8 Still Cards like this one

I just picked up an amazing Commemorative DVD Box Set about the movie:

    

Senitype representing The African Queen (boat) as filmed in the Technicolor Process

You may recognize the style of boat from the above picture? It should remind you of a famous Disney attraction vehicle!

For Disney fans, the most interesting fact about The African Queen film is that it’s reported to have inspired The Jungle Cruise! Actually, there are said to be two sources of inspiration for the attraction, one being the 1955 True-Life Adventure film entitled “The African Lion,” about a pride of lions, and the film The African Queen. Imagineer Harper Goff referenced the African Queen frequently in his ideas; indeed, it appears his designs of the ride vehicles were inspired by the steamer used in the film.

The small steam-boat used in the film to depict the African Queen was built in 1912, in England, for service in Africa. Let’s compare it to its Theme Park counterpart. First, let’s look at the steering:

    

In the movie, Ms. Hepburn steers the boat from the rear using a tiller, but in the attraction, the Skipper uses a wheel in the front of the boat:

     Uniform color seems the same though

At one time the original boat used as The African Queen in the movie was owned by actor Fess Parker, giving us another Disney tie to the movie. In December 2011, plans were announced to restore the boat. Restoration was completed by the following April and the African Queen is apparently now on display as a tourist attraction at Key Largo, Florida. So if true, this would make an awesome side trip for any Disney fan!

One more cool comparison is found in the 5′ long model used for filming in the movie:

    

Any scene in the movie where the boat is filmed in a long shot, and in danger, it is actually this 5′ model. And if you like to play with toy boats, you can get your fix just outside The Jungle Cruise in Walt Disney World:

So both The African Queen and The Jungle Cruise have little models of the boats made, but admittedly, WDW’s versions are smaller!

The boat in the movie is called ‘African Queen’, but the boats in the Jungle Cruise attractions have a variety of names. In Disneyland, the queue and station are themed as the headquarters and boathouse of a River Expedition Company, located in a (presumably British) colony of the 1930s. And I believe the names presently in use are:

  • Amazon Belle
  • Congo Queen (nudge, nudge)
  • Ganges Gal
  • Hondo Hattie
  • Irrawaddy Woman
  • Kissimmee Kate (nudge, nudge a.k.a. Katherine Hepburn?)
  • Nile Princess
  • Orinoco Adventuress
  • Suwannee Lady
  • Ucayali Una (Wheelchair equipped)
  • Yangtze Lotus
  • Zambezi Miss

Names decommissioned in 1997:

  • Magdalena Maiden
  • Mekong Maiden

At Walt Disney World, the Jungle Cruise is set up as a depression-era British outpost on the Amazon river, operated by the fictional company, The Jungle Navigation Co., and their boats are named as follows:

  • Amazon Annie
  • Bomokandi Bertha (Wheelchair lift equipped)
  • Congo Connie
  • Ganges Gertie
  • Irrawaddy Irma
  • Mongala Millie
  • Nile Nellie
  • Orinoco Ida
  • Rutshuru Ruby
  • Sankuru Sadie
  • Senegal Sal
  • Ucyali Lolly
  • Volta Val
  • Wamba Wanda (Wheelchair lift equipped)
  • Zambesi Zelda

Retired boat

  • Kwango Kate (nudge, nudge a.k.a. Katherine Hepburn again?)

Keep in mind these lists are as accurate as I could make them. But now, onto the last bit of Jungle Cruise lore: Is there going to be a live-action movie of the attraction? Let’s read a Disney Press Release:

The Walt Disney Studios is excited to be in development with Mandeville Films and writer Roger S.H. Schulman on a feature film based on the Jungle Cruise, one of the most iconic attractions in Disney theme park history. The film will pair up Tim Allen and Tom Hanks in their first live-action project, after their previous collaborations in the Toy Story trilogy.‬ (Original announcement in 2012, source updated in 2014)

Since this original announcement, talk has died down with no new, er… news. If it does go ahead, it likely will take on a much lighter tone than The African Queen film (set in the first World War) opting instead for comedy, more in line with the Jungle Cruise attraction speils and jokes. And with Tim Allen and Tom Hanks on board (pun intended) that seems logical.

     Reproduction of book by Hepburn

This great little reproduction (the size of the DVD box) was included in The African Queen Commemorative Box Set and chronicles Ms. Hepburn’s adventures while filming the movie. In a nutshell: It… was… Hell. Actually filmed in Africa, the cast and crew had to deal with disease, injury, and a total lack of comforts and amenities. Let’s hope that if Disney does go ahead with a Jungle Cruise film, it will go better for all involved!

So what do you think: Are there enough similarities to justify a connection between The African Queen and The Jungle Cruise?

Walt’s Tintype Portrait at the Greenfield Village

When my wife and I lived in the Windsor area, just across the border from Detroit, we held an Annual Pass to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. But our favorite part of that great institution was Greenfield Village!

Here you can go back in time to when the electric light bulb was only installed in one house, the Model T was just getting started, and living was simpler and more wholesome. And you can even ride in a real Model T, just like we did here:

But if that’s not enough to get you to make a trip to Michigan, how about visiting a site where Walt Disney himself visited? Now if that’s got your interest piqued, then you need to visit this building:

Unassuming, ain’t it?

This is the Tintype Studio where Walt Disney and Ward Kimball got their portraits done during one of the two visits Walt made to Greenfield Village. Trivia: Both trips were made before Disneyland was constructed, and some say Henry Ford’s property influenced some of the features found in Walt’s Park.

Note Walt’s pose in the bottom left corner

So if you live in the States but a trip to California just isn’t going to happen, than perhaps a trip to the other Park that Walt walked in might be more within your reach!

Chevron Autopia Pull-back Cars from Disneyland

I’ve never failed to ride the cars in Tomorrowland’s Speedway when visiting Walt Disney World, and so it was a no-brainer to ride the cars of Autopia when I visited the attraction (albeit after the Chevron sponsorship had ended) at Disneyland for the first time in January of 2013. To steer one of the original attractions was awesome!

Of course, I wished they didn’t have the guide rails that kept you on track (which they didn’t have on opening day) but we can’t have everything.

So I was delighted while on vacation in Florida this year to come across these two great Chevron Autopia cars:

    

DUSTY and SPARKY

I already had one car of the four-part set, below:

CLASSIC

But I had to wait some time before I could finish my set, with Suzy:

SUZY

So I had to assemble my fleet from three separate locations!

Chevron entered into an agreement with Disney to sponsor this attraction in 1998, as this Press Release announces. Unfortunately, with the rising price of gas and for other reasons, Chevron only sponsored the attraction from 2000 to 2012. When we rode the cars in 2013, Honda had already taken over the sponsorship.

But the real fun comes from all of the great advertising stuff! These sets were released in 2000 to commemorate Disneyland’s 45th Anniversary. You could enter to win a Magic Disneyland Vacation:

    

If I wasn’t a completest, I’d scratch the card just to see what it says!

Same with the stickers: Can’t use them!

I will never stop searching for this playmat!

    

The same postcard is included in all four of the Autopia Cars

Disneyland Autopia Yesterday and Tomorrow booklet

Now this is by far the most awesome inclusion of the sets. It’s a foldout flyer-style publication with seven pages detailing the history of the Autopia attraction, and seven pages containing a story about the Chevron Cars called Road Rally to Autopia at Disneyland.

It doesn’t get any better than that! The history side contains archival pictures and concept art from the original ride in 1955, the redesign of 1967, and finally the Chevron makeover in 2000. The story side chronicles the Chevron Cars’ trip to Disneyland where they continually ask ‘Are we there yet?’, and finally arrive just as Disneyland is closing. But they are let in to play with their Autopia cousins all night long until morning comes and the Park opens again.

This inclusion is superb and so I will be doing a post on each of the stories later.

  

Simply pull the cars back and they will speed away

Figures are removable

To quote Disneyland Autopia Yesterday and Today: “Cars are the ultimate vehicle for our imaginations: get behind the wheel and the world is ours. With a car and an imagination, we can go anywhere.”

Well, on the Autopia track, you can’t go anywhere, but you can let your imagination drive away with you!

Visiting Disney’s Town of Celebration in Florida

Recently my wife and I spent three weeks in not-so sunny Florida (from December 25th to January 12th). While our friends and family were enjoying record cold temperatures and ice storms back in Canada, we were NOT enjoying unseasonably cold and rainy weather in The Sunshine State!

But we made the most of it, feeling that a change is as good as a cure and so went about exploring parts of Florida and places we hadn’t seen before. And one of those places just happened to be:

These t-shirts were in a shop window and made a nice welcome to the community. Michael Eisner made this his pet project back in the 1990’s and although Disney has long since sold off its interests in the project, you can still feel the Disney Spirit everywhere!

 

 

These are just some of the interesting buildings that Disney had designed for the town. Each one was done by a different and/or famous architect or firm. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

Subsequent to founding Celebration, Disney followed its plans to divest most of its control of the town. Several Disney business units continue to occupy the town’s office buildings, and two utility companies, Smart City Telecom and Reedy Creek Energy Services, both operated from Walt Disney World, provide services to the town. The town itself remains directly connected to the Walt Disney World resorts via one of its primary streets, World Drive, which begins near the Magic Kingdom.

Downtown Celebration’s post office was designed by Michael Graves, the adjacent Welcome Center is by Philip Johnson and the Celebration Health building by Robert A. M. Stern. Other nearby buildings are designed by well known architects including: Charles Moore (Preview Center), Graham Gund (Bohemian Hotel), Cesar Pelli (movie theatre), Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (SunTrust Bank).

As you travel down World Drive from The Magic Kingdom you can look for this distinctive water tower that stands on the lot of a large strip mall that also serves as an entrance into the town of Celebration. It’s hard to miss!

But if you want to blend in with the natives, you may wish to buy and drive a NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) from the local NEVrland store. You’ll find these driving around and parked all over the town! I want one.

I’ve intended to visit this town that Disney built for years but for some reason never got around to it. I’m glad I did during this visit as it was something different to add to my Disney experiences! Remember, Walt wanted Epcot to be a community, not a theme park, and the town of Celebration is meant to be an extension of that dream. Any Disney fan should make a pilgrimage! And if you do, maybe you could stay at this hotel:

I purchased a great book about the town and how it started. I’ll be doing a review at a later time.

So have you ever visited the town of Celebration? If so, what did you think? Here is what Wikipedia says about the different views held by some:

Response to Celebration has been mixed, some feeling it is creepy, one resident even admitting it is “Stepford Wife-like”, to those who see Celebration as an example of new urbanism with its safe, walkable community.

Which view best represents your first impression?