This Sad and Lonely Crocodile Will Eat You

I think I read somewhere that journeys into the jungle are supposed to be dark and intense. Nobody ever says “I’ve returned fresh from the jungle.” They always come back half-starved, half-mad, half-naked, and half-bumpy from parasitic insects. But I’m starting to get suspicious about the Jungle Cruise. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like some scenes are less than realistic.

For instance, the Nile and Amazon and the Mekong rivers don’t actually connect in real life. I can’t believe the Imagineers did not construct a story device to cover this clear logic flaw. If it were me, I would have had a better transition rather than just “Now we’re on the Mekong.” Seriously, how hard would it have been to introduce a little exposition to smooth that over?

"Now the engineer will put you into hypersleep. Don't worry, it will only seem like a second or two to you."

“Now the engineer will put you into hypersleep. Don’t worry, it will only seem like a second or two to you.”

And other scenes are not so realistic as well.

We had a little argument going in the Parkeology offices a few months back — one I’m going to drag out into the public, because there’s nothing more interesting than reading about two park geeks bickering like old women on the internet.

It all stems from a wonderful little video that has been making the rounds for awhile now. This thing is pure beauty, one of the best films I’ve seen this summer next to Guardians of the Galaxy and watching Michael Bay abuse my childhood (because hey, I wasn’t using those memories anyway). It’s a restored home movie of Walt Disney World from 1972 courtesy of our friends at retrodisneyworld.com. It is jaw-dropping.

There’s a lot I would like to comment on about this film, but one thing that really blew me away was a shot of the Jungle Cruise at the 9:15 mark.

If you watch the clip, it is of a crocodile in the Indian Elephant Bathing Pool, who happens to be literally gushing fluid from some kind of tear ducts behind his optical orbs. And then the film moves on to a showering elephant, which is totally unrealistic. Elephants are notoriously stinky.

We tried to find an explanation for this crocodile from 1972, which boiled down to two camps. One was that the animatronic had sprung a hydraulic leak. The other correct view (my view) is that the crocodile is weeping crocodile tears.

The notion of crocodile tears may or may not be a myth. Now the phrase means something like faking pain in order to lure unsuspecting victims close enough to be eaten — in which case Dinorama is a good example.

But nobody seems to really believe this. And even if they did subscribe to some sort of reptilian saline secretion, they certainly wouldn’t buy the idea of a crocodile blubbering like the Bellagio Fountain, dousing elephants with a bucketful of sorrowful lachryma.

Yet as far back as the 14th century, explorers were raving about these deceptive beasts. As described in the awesomely-titled Curious Creatures in Zoology:

In that country and by all Inde be great plenty of cockodrills. These serpents slay men, and they eat them weeping; and when they eat they move the over jaw, and not the nether jaw, and they have no tongue.

Now I have a special fondness for English that sounds as if it were written a long time ago back when men thought the moon was made of cheese, and the one good thing that has come out of this debate is that I will henceforth call these creatures “cockodrills” from now until the end of my life. But one thing is for certain: the idea of crocodile tears is at least consistent with beasts from the wild jungles of India, and since is the bathing pool of Indian Elephants, a super-soaker cockodrill is perhaps a reasonable inclusion.

Everyone knows the moon is made of Eric Idle.

Everyone knows the moon is made of Eric Idle.

One of the coolest aspects about this cockodrill is that it existed in 1972, but I never noticed the weeping until I watched the video. I knew there was a cockodrill in the ride scene, but I figured he must have gotten replaced or broken over time. But when I rode Jungle Cruise last week, I made a point to look out for him and sure enough, he’s still there, and still spouting off on cue like Tammy Faye Bakker.

This parkeologist's camera captured the cockodrill in breathtaking, non-weeping action -- in full-on blurred-sasquatch mode. Are the tears real or myth?

This parkeologist’s camera captured the cockodrill in breathtaking, non-weeping action — in full-on blurred-sasquatch mode. Are the tears real or myth?

How I never noticed him before, I don’t know. I must have been distracted by all those wacky skinny-dipping elephants. The cockodrill is somewhat relegated to background scenery, tucked off on the left side of the boat just as you exit the sunken temple. He’s got a couple of juvenile elephants nearby, so maybe he’s hoping for a snack. But his jaws still open and his eyebrows are still crying.

Give him a look the next time you ride. He really is making quite a mess of himself.

 

18 thoughts on “This Sad and Lonely Crocodile Will Eat You

  1. “Crocodile tears” is JUST the sort of visual pun that has Marc “Great Caesar’s Ghost” Davis’s name all over it. I’m frankly surprised he didn’t work in a leopard trying to change its spots.

    • You are right Melissa…. It does seem like a Marc Davis style joke and maybe somehow it started out that way. But it ended with something so poorly executed (the fire hose of water comes out if his ears) that at best they abandoned it. At worst it was not intentional.

      And we alternate on being Famed Naturalist John Muir.

    • As an aside I think it probably was meant as a joke where the elephant sprays into the crocs open mouth filling him so full of water that it comes out if his ears… No tears involved. But I also think the execution was less that successful so they more or less just ignored it.

  2. Not to interrupt choice bickering here, but Al Awol is definitely right. The gag is that the baby elephant squirts water in the mouth of the crocodile, and water shoots out his ears. It’s a weird side-side-sideline joke. It’s also at DL and TDL where the timing of the animation is a bit better.

  3. We are REALLY trying to reach for explainations when I think the only truly logical one is that it is simply a mistake: an odd side effect of a poorly engineered 60 year old figure (technology wise).

    Frankly the most realistic explaination is one that we know is not true… and that is that Disney only recently added the squirting effect because they seem obsessed with spraying guests with water whether it is from a camel, a tiki-totem or a Stitch figure… this would fit right in, just another chance to have guesrs get wet… but it’s not that… it’s just a wacky side effect.

  4. I was a Jungle Skipper for about 2 years and this crocodile was definitely something that I noticed on my many expeditions into the Mekong.

    Personally, I believe the sight gag involving this croc is connected to the little elephant standing not too far away. The best explanation I could come up with is based off of the animation timing of these two figures.

    Firstly, the croc opens his jaws as if he thinks the baby would make a tasty snack. The little elephant gets the better of the croc when he blasts him with a well placed stream of water from his trunk. The croc is so inundated with water that he’s full to bursting, and the excess water shoots out of the croc’s ear cavities.

    That’s the only logical explanation I could make up. I also never heard anyone ever mention any jokes related to these “animals.” If it is supposed to be a sight-gag it doesn’t translate very well. In all of my time as a Skipper I can only remember one kid looking over at the croc and laughing.

    • All joking aside, it’s clear that no one has any clue what this thing is supposed to represent. It’s a total mystery. Never referenced in the script, too intentional to be a malfunction, too gushing to represent any sort of logical assumption. Only Marc Davis knows.

  5. Count me as a fan of when ya’ll bicker like a married couple!

    Using the Parkeology Homemade Inculpable Liason for Handicapping Arguments and Rabble-Rousings Independant of Sanity ( or P.H.I.L.H.A.R.R.I.S.), I see it thusly:

    + 1 point to Ted for clarification and reference to original design of Animatronic
    – 1 point to Ted for hubris
    + 1 point for limiting your hubris to just a Jungle Cruise Skipper reference when your dear, dear friend Mr. Eisner could have been name-dropped
    – 1 point to Ted for assuming to know Shane’s lifespan and thus thinking he is a “fool who won’t live to be a hundred and three”
    + 1 point for being alliterative
    +2 points for calling out the Idle Moon for what it is
    +2 points for using not one, but two Dr. Bones McCoy-style one-liners that succintly sums up his arguments.
    + 1 point for promising the Parkeology Nation a future podcast
    Total for Ted: 6 Points

    +1 point to Shane for being alliterative
    +1 point for calling Ted on his hubris
    -1 point for not so subtle jealousy of the fact that Ted and Mikey Eisey watched 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea together from a specially-modified 20K Sub that night
    +1 point for the Hench/Goff reference
    +2 points for Leave Brittany Alone
    -1 point for implying that any video of Joe Rohde’s ear ring is a bad thing
    +2 points for Home Field Advantage (it was your article after all)
    Total for Shane: 6 Points

    Phil Harris says it’s neck and neck right now.

    • Well that clears it up… thanks for the scientific appraoch.

      Howver since Shane cannot keep Hench and Ryman straight (and I don;t think he has any idea who Goff is) I subtract that point and claim it as my own… final score:

      Ted- 8
      Shane- 6
      Crying Croc – 0

      • Nice try, trying to convince people that there was ever such a person as Herb Ryman. April Fools was months ago, dude.

  6. Looks like we have year’s of moons and diapered fountain babies to come then.

    How amazingly SHOCKING that Disney would not spend money to “fix” a poorly designed figure from the mid 50’s. Shane, they won’t spend the money to fix the centerpiece of a 100 million dollar plus attraction that was meant to anchor Animal Kingdom.

    The croc is not “broken” per say it simply has a design quirk that causes this to happen.

    The spray if water neither looks like tears nor does it come from the things eyes. You are trying to jam a square peg into a round hole!

  7. First of all I cannot believe that you used the moon shot AGAIN. It’s the third or fourth time that vulgar monstrosity has emerged to give us all nightmares.

    Now to correct things- I never said it was a hydraulic fluid leak per say (that implies some major malfunction) as much as simply a side effect of mid century rushed engineering. Remember these babies were originally designed very quickly for Disneyland in 1954.

    I just don’t see the imagineers jamming a poorly done fire hose eye ball joke in here and then not even referencing it in the script.

    Remember, I worked Jungle Cruise. I’ve been around that baby more than you will in your life time. Not once have I ever heard even the slightest mention that this was an intentional super secret underground joke.

    And if by some miracle it is a joke then it must be the worst physical effect on property. It’s not really coming from his eye, it shoots 1000 feet like a laser and there is no mention of it in the script… Hi-larious.

    Sometimes Shane a cigar is just a cigar.

    • So if I understand you correctly, a wildly weeping crocodile is an accidental design flaw, and has not been fixed in 40 years. Makes perfect sense.

      Also, you always like to brag about how you were Jungle Skipper This and Sub Captain That, and how you and Eisner once had juice on the set of a Disney Sunday Night Movie Shoot. When we all know you don’t know the difference between John Hench and Harper Goff.

      The crocodile tears happened! Your mind just get wrap itself around the awesomeness of a 12-foot reptile blubbering away like that “Leave Brittany Alone” guy. Next time we run WDW48, I’m gonna force you to look at that thing and accept that a weeping crocodile is the only thing that makes sense in the context of that scene.

    • And I’ll quit using that moon shot when you quit referencing Joe Rohde’s fountain baby.

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