‘Jungle Cruise’: A Real-Life Skipper Reveals What the Disney Ride is Really Like, Including Carrying a Real Gun

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly affected several industries, and the entertainment industry hasn’t been spared. Even Walt Disney Company, one of the world’s largest studios, has felt the effects of the pandemic as it has had to postpone various projects, including shows, and to shut down its most prominent attractions.

Jungle Cruise entrance sign
Jungle Cruise | Jeff Gritchen/Getty Images

However, things are looking up for The Mouse as it begins to relaunch newer projects. On its lineup was the highly anticipated Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, which premiered in July 2021. A real-life skipper revealed what the Disney ride is like, and some of the job elements are mind-blowing.

‘Jungle Cruise’ is based on the Disney ride of the same name

After Disney gave Jungle Cruise the go-ahead to start filming, the movie producers settled on Hawaii as the primary filming location with the island of Kauai as the film’s backdrop. Set designers worked relentlessly for months to create settings that resembled the real Disney ride of the same name.

The movie centers around a skipper with bad puns who wants to find a way to die after his people were cursed never to die and an eccentric botanist who seeks to revolutionize medicine using the Tears of the Moon Tree.

At Disneyland, riders who take the Jungle Cruise go down the river watching the attractions while the skipper makes several terrible puns during the ride. Although the movie is relatively new, Disney had been trying to make it for years.

Jungle Cruise isn’t the first ride-inspired film on Disney’s lineup. The company has had lesser success with films like Dinosaur, Tower of Terror, and Tomorrowland. However, the company executives saw vast potential with Jungle Cruise, with the film expected to become the next Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

What is a real-life skipper’s experience on the job?

Although most movie critics have no actual experiences with some of the movie jobs, there is credibility from hearing other people with experiences from the jobs in the movies giving their reviews about a film.

Vulture recently sat down with a real-life skipper named Steve Kuprin, who gave his review of the movie and whether it rang true to his experience as a skipper. Kuprin revealed that being a Jungle Cruise operator was one of the most sought-after jobs in Disneyland when he started.

He also said that the movie’s first half was accurate in that his job entailed most of what people saw in the film with Johnson’s character before he began his adventure for the Tears of the Moon Tree. The most intriguing part of the whole interview was Kuprin’s revelation that he carried a real gun as a skipper.

When Kuprin expressed his skepticism about Johnson carrying a real gun, the interview expressed their shock, wondering if he (Kuprin) had a real gun during his time as a skipper. He admitted to carrying a real gun “To shoot hippos. And to protect the guests.” Kuprin said that he had to clean the gun every day after he got off his shift admitting that it had blanks.

Other elements of the job similar to the movie


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Unlike Johnson, who is wearing a driving cap in the film, Kuprin wore a “straw jungle cowboy hat and a polyester shirt, tan and brown and polyester pants.” Regarding the script, Kuprin revealed that all skippers received training on the script -called Standard Operating Procedure- they would follow for their puns.

He said that many of the puns in the movie are the same as the ones they learned in training. However, this isn’t a coincidence as the movie’s writers took some of the corny puns that the skippers from the real-life ride say and incorporated them in the film, such as the “backside of water” joke.