Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jingle Cruise Ruminations

This week the DisneyParks blog announced that the Jungle Cruise would become the Jingle Cruise for the holidays. We don't know much about what they're planning. What we DO know is that they do not plan to close the attraction for conversion. Rather, it will happen "overnight" (not sure if that means over several nights).

We can be all but certain there will be new jokes. Those are easy and completely free, and a simple way to inject newness into the ride.

It's less certain what we'll see on the ride. I mean, it's Africa mostly (and some bits of Asia). These are not areas known for their Christian religion, so the idea of Christmas seems a bit foreign perhaps.

With the overnight(s) slated for rehab, I'm guessing we won't see a LOT of physical alteration or even decorations. A wreath here, some Xmas lights there.

Do you suppose they will integrate Glow With the Show ears? That would be kind of cool. I suspect most holiday decorations will be most accessible at night rather than the daytime, so those ears could play an extra role. If so, though, it will have to be isolated to one spot.

Mostly I think this is about California, not Orlando. Orlando has essentially no Christmas decorations (wait: check that. WDW has little decorations outside Osborne. Orlando at large has the very impressive SeaWorld decorations).

But California has a TON of seasonal overlays. Small World and Haunted Mansion Holiday pack in the locals, so having Jungle Cruise added to the lineup is a no-brainer. I suspect this addition is mostly about packing on the holiday offerings in Anaheim. Since it's an easy thing to add, they must have imagined duplicating it in Orlando. It doesn't cost much.

I suppose it could be doubling as a "trial balloon" to see what happens when you introduce holiday overlays in Orlando. They've been reluctant to do it so far since there is little imagined return on investment. In Anaheim, the locals come back (and spend more) when the park is given alternate decorations. Since WDW is frequented by so many onetime and infrequent visitors, they have so far not bothered with holiday overlays.

It could be that the future of holiday overlays lies with this Jingle Cruise experiment. Go more, go more often, and spend more money. Maybe it's the only way we'll get them to add more such holiday overlays in Orlando?

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.