In 1960 the first walk-through was added to Storytown USA, Jungle Land.
“Jungleland was a walkthrough attraction that was supposed to show the African jungle complete with animals, warriors, chiefs and temples. (All statue type things.) As the years went by other attractions were added to it. There was a large swing bridge and a huge Polynesian fertility god statue added. Then parts started to get old and the owners at the time (Premier Parks who bought out Six Flags and took over the name) didn’t really want to pay for upkeep not to mention there were something in it that were considered politically incorrect. Last time I was at the park (called Great Escape since the early 80’s) Jungleland was still open. The entrance looks pretty much the same but the moving & talking (audio-animatronics) animals & people were gone. The fertility god was in a section that was cordoned off and the only thing that was really there was the swing bridge.”
StorytownFan, Tiki Central
Old timers may remember that if you rode the Storytown Express, which nowadays is the same route for the Storytown train, you rode right past Jungle Land and could hear the loud scary jungle sounds. Whenever I rode the train I had to keep my head down when we approached Jungle Land. Jungle Land scared the pants off me when I was little. Now it seems silly because it wasn’t all that elaborate. But to a five year-old me, it was frightening. Animatronics bobbing up and out of murky waters making all sorts of weird sounds and rickety bridges about to collapse underneath my feet preparing the hungry gators for their next meal. Me.
I overcame my fear of Jungle Land as an adult. But sadly, by the time that I was able to walk through it without covering my eyes, most of Jungle Land was missing. What was left was overgrowth and a few statues. And since I only walked through it a few times as a child, mainly with my eyes closed, I couldn’t remember what exactly I had missed when the walk-through was still in it’s prime.
When I think of Jungle Land now, I imagine what could have been if proper attention was paid to it. They could have maintained it over the years, expanded on it’s animated inhabitants, made them more lifelike and realistic. Or just kept it as is, keeping it healthy and vibrant. Considering it was originally a swamp, Jungle Land was meant to be. There’s nothing wrong with good old fashioned entertainment, which is what Jungle Land was. Much like Alice In Wonderland walk-through, people complain of such outdated attractions but in the grand scheme of things, it is what gave The Great Escape it’s charm when it started to evolve.
And What have they done? Taken Storytown USA’s first walk-through, a piece of the original park’s history, and turned it into “Elmer Fudd’s Rabbit Seasoning”. A clever revamp to make Jungle Land fit into the Looney Tunes National Park children’s area, which used to be where you could find the Purple Cow and pink whale and Three Bears, etc. Not anymore.