Alternate Fantasy – Bizarro Adventureland

The strangest thing about Disneyland’s Adventureland is that the Treehouse is in the middle of the motherlovin’ sidewalk.

It’s no secret that I have an unhealthy fascination with Magic Kingdom’s Swiss Family Treehouse. I love the way it’s perched out there on its own plant-infested island, sweltering in the hot florida sun. I love that you can see all three mountains from various vantage points. I love that one lookout point is called something like “Jungle Overlook,” and stares straight into uncharted wilderness.

By contrast, Disneyland’s version, Tarzan’s Dead Parents’ Treehouse practically has a freeway under it, and I’m not joking about the entrance being in the middle of the walkway. Literally, there’s a set of stairs coming up like a weed in a crack of the pavement, leading to a suspension bridge that crosses over to where the actual Treehouse is shoved into a spare nook, almost up against the Indy showbuilding. It’s the most jarring thing about Adventureland, when one is used to Florida.

This is the view from the top of the stairs leading to the treehouse. Note that below me, throngs of people are passing by either on the left or the right.

This is the view from the top of the stairs leading to the treehouse. Note that below me, throngs of people are passing by either on the left or the right.

I get it though. They work with the space that they have. I’m not crazy about Tarzan evicting the Robinsons, but the essential treehouse experience is the same. A few static Tarzan illusions instead of stilted references to “our beloved family” and so forth. I think both parks are to be commended for sticking with the walk-thru Treehouse concept in general. It’s such a uniquely “Disney” idea, and is one of those small attractions that doesn’t amount to much on the surface, but paints in the background. You’d notice if it was missing. I’m glad it’s been spared from the Retail Location Makeover (which unfortunately is also uniquely “Disney”).

Another thing worth noting is just how tight Disneyland’s Adventureland is. At Magic Kingdom, Adventureland can resemble a cholesterol-encrusted pulmonary artery, slowly choking to death with every running of the parade as untold thousands try to chart alternate paths through the park. Disneyland’s Adventureland is that same artery thirty bacon cheeseburgers later. You have to grease your limbs just to make it past the triple-headed monster of Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones Adventure, and the Indy FastPass area.

The area itself didn’t register as all that different from Florida’s version. Obviously there’s no Magic Carpets (yay!) but there is an Aladdin Oasis crammed behind the Tiki Room (and completely deserted, by the way. We frolicked with Aladdin and Genie for several minutes before deciding that it was really creepy for grown people to be frolicking). Also, there’s no Caribbean Plaza, since Pirates is off in New Orleans Square.

What they do have is the Indiana Jones Adventure, which is consistently near the top of my  all-time favorite park attractions. It is my favorite queue, bar none, and the ride itself is a blast. It is the most anticipated part of every trip for me — even this one, which also had  Carsland and World of Color beckoning. If I had any complaint, it’s that some of the hokier elements stick out all the more, the more I see them. The absurd size of the animatronic cobra, and the painted demon scrims in the skull room. But overall, the experience is still amazing for anyone who grew up on George Lucas films. I wish Magic Kingdom had something to compare to it.

All family vacation spots could do with more skewered heads.

All family vacation spots could do with more skewered heads.

Adventureland also has the Bengal Barbecue, which for some reason I love. It is hard to go wrong with skewered meat (see photo above). The food choices in Magic Kingdom come down to an eggroll cart. Disneyland’s quick service is consistently awesome, while Magic Kingdom’s is consistently average. Ironically, Magic Kingdom’s sit down restaurants are far ahead of Disneyland, which doesn’t have very many..

Some things never, or rarely change though. Both parks have Jungle Cruises and Tiki Rooms. The Tiki shows, for all intents and purposes, are identical. Different pre-shows (various tiki gods in California, a single god in Florida, but with birds). A fun aspect for me is that the Dole Whip stand literally has a secondary line from within the Tiki Room preshow area. The Tikis also have their own restrooms here. It’s like a whole Tiki ecosystem in there!

And if somebody would be kind enough to build this tree in my backyard, I would pay. Dearly.

And if somebody would be kind enough to build this tree in my backyard, I would pay. Dearly.

Once inside, everything goes off as planned. I think Florida’s mountain backdrops and rainstorms are slightly more elaborate, but Disneyland still has the dancing fountain in the center.

As Mr. Miyagi would say, Jungle Cruise is same, but different. I was disappointed not to traverse the upstairs queue, since Magic Kingdom doesn’t have that (I’ve heard rumors that it once did, but these are unconfirmed and certainly it hasn’t been used in the last few decades). Once onboard the boats, many experiences and jokes are the same. Disneyland has a cool piranha effect. Magic Kingdom has a wicked awesome flooded temple. The Disneyland cruise does feel tighter, with show scenes crammed more closely together. Florida’s lush jungle gives it a more remote feel.

He's not so tough when he's not staring out at you in pitch blackness with green glowing eyes.

He’s not so tough when he’s not staring out at you in pitch blackness with green LED eyes.

Finally, a word if I may about one of the shops, the first one you encounter when entering the land from the Hub… There’s nothing all that remarkable about the shop itself, but from my very first visit, I have made this shop a must-see event. This is what people mean when they say Disneyland must be very clever with its space. The shop is so cramped and twists around on itself so many different ways, that it is possible to enter from Adventureland and come out on Frontierland, without ever feeling a jarring theme change. It’s labyrinthine in the best sense of the word. It’s really one giant shop, with several ports of entry, and it’s a neat trick to see it segue so smoothly from one area to the next.

 

17 thoughts on “Alternate Fantasy – Bizarro Adventureland

  1. You’re killing me smalls!

    I can’t believe you missed Trader Sam’s. Of all people Shane!

    I wish they would make a large scale one in Adventureland that was a mash up of Trader Sam’s and the Adventurers Club.

  2. Great post about these two similar areas! I’m a WDW frequenter and I’ve never been to Disneyland, so it’s nice to know what’s available.

  3. I love me some Swiss Family Treehouse too!! I was so disappointed when it changed to Tarzan over here.

    Shane no mention of Shrunken Ned?

    Although not in Adventureland, please tell me you paid a visit to Trader Sam’s bar?

    • I did run across Shrunken Ned, whom I always seem to discover by accident. And snapped a picture for posterity.

      Also, Teevtee has already privately reprimanded me for missing Trader Sam’s at the hotel. Truth is, I would have made a trip to see it, but completely forgot it was there. We stayed in Paradise Pier Hotel this time, and it completely dropped off my radar. I’m kicking myself.

      • It’s really a shame that Shane missed Trader Sam’s.

        It is one if the absolute best theme jobs that Disney has ever done. Oddly enough even on very crowded park days you can stroll into TS at lunch with no problem.

        I hear that they may build one at WDW, the Poly I assume, they would be fools not to!

  4. By the way, will the “NextGen” Fastpass include Swiss Family Treehouse?
    You swipe your wristband at the entrance, then proceed directly to the exit.

    • You’re ripping my heart out, Dean Finder! Show the Treehouse the love it so richly deserves. Swiss Family Forever!

      • I love the Swiss Family Treehouse. The obsession with FastPass to “hit” as many attractions as possible in a day, not so much.

  5. The Alley like passageway of Adventureland in Disneyland is one area that I think the MK beats it… and especially DLP beats it. However I prefer the actual content on the DL park.

    It does however always feel oddly small and straight, like one hallway through soem shops and look to the left for some attractions. I think they stuck the Tarzan entry where they did to visually block off New Orleans Square, otherwise BAM… you see it almost more than you do the rest of Adventureland. And the placement of Tiki Room is so up front that you can pass it without even realizing it… This is where the size of the MK comes into play.

    Speaking of Tiki room though you missed one thing Shane. Teh one thing that REALLY feels wonderfully odd to me at DL is that you are not only allowed, but encouraged to eat (Dole Whips) inside the actual attraction. Talk about bizarro world… name another attraction where they allow food and actually sell it to you as you wait in line to get in… so sweet.

    • Your hyper-sweet tooth is clearly relishing the thought of curling up in a dark Tiki Room with a gallon of your favorite processed frozen fruit slushie!

      It’s a great point though. I didn’t notice it on this trip, but now that you mention it, it does seem like I have seen that on past trips. I’m trying to think of any Walt Disney World attraction where it’s acceptable to eat stuff during the show. I’m drawing a blank.

      You’re also right about walking past the Tiki Room almost without realizing it. I think this is yet another GREAT example of the sort of phenomenon I’m trying to convey about being a native-WDW visitor. The Tiki Room is practically in the same place as MK’s Crystal Palace, which I am so used to bypassing. If it weren’t for the occasional long Dole Whip line, it would be very unintrusive indeed.

  6. “…Jungle Cruise is same, but different. I was disappointed not to traverse the upstairs queue, since Magic Kingdom doesn’t have that (I’ve heard rumors that it once did, but these are unconfirmed and certainly it hasn’t been used in the last few decades).”

    Do you mean that Disneyland does not have an upstairs queue? I have been on the upstairs part of the queue for Jungle Cruise at WDW. I was with my sister (this past May) and she has never been to Disneyland.

    • No, I meant that WDW doesn’t have an upstairs queue. If it does (and if it has been used as recently as May), then I am blown away. Are you sure we’re talking about the same thing? I’m talking about a second floor to the building part of the queue. You do have to walk down some stairs to get to Jungle Cruise at WDW, and maybe you just mean that the queue was long enough to stretch up the stairs into the normal Adventureland walkway.

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