Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Freddy Martin (https://freddymartin.net)
The jungle drums are beating once again, as Adventureland Day returned to Disneyland last Sunday, March 5th. Following a long, pandemic-induced hiatus, the popular dress-up event has made its comeback, bigger and better than ever.
The lanai at the Tiki Room was Dole Whip Deep with adventurers ready to sing along. Photo credit: Pamela Keller, 2023 all rights reserved
What is Adventureland Day?
Adventureland Day is an unofficial fan event where Disneybounders, cosplayers, and tiki enthusiasts alike deck themselves in safari swag, feathered finery, and aloha accouterments to immerse themselves in the wildly exotic beauty of Walt Disney’s favorite land.
Hundreds of khaki-klad explorers stopped traffic for a photo at the Main Street Railroad Station. Photo credit: Pamela Keller, 2023 all rights reserved
Led by intrepid tiki artist “Tiki Tony” Murphy, this year’s Adventureland Day event, the first since March of 2020, drew and estimated 300 participants from all over Southern California, and even some from across the country. For adventurers on the other side of the continent, there have also been Adventureland Day celebrations at Walt Disney World.
“Tiki Tony” Murphy laughs along with the jungle puns aboard the World Famous Jungle Cruise. Photo credit: Pamela Keller, 2023 all rights reserved
“What feels like both yesterday and a decade ago, I’m so excited to be back with our Adventureland Day family,” said Murphy.
Murphy, an artist well-known for his family-friendly spin on tiki culture escapism, took on the mantle of ‘head salesman..’ er, ‘head adventurer’ in 2017 as an outlet for his love of treasure hunts and tales of expeditions to exotic lands.
“I always wished there were more clues and riddles to solve in real-life that lead to sunken treasures,” said Murphy. “I said, ‘What the heck? Why not make one myself that others can enjoy!”
Organizing Adventureland Day
Since January, registered attendees received a barrage of text messages from Murphy and his team, prepping them with rules and schedules for the day, while social media accounts were abuzz with outfit checks, hippo memes, and the odd Jungle Cruise joke (very odd).
Early in the day, the “Adventurelanders,” as they call themselves, gathered at the Tropical Hideaway to admire one another’s plumage and gorge on Dole Whips. Instead of saying “hello, they say the unofficial greeting, “Kungaloosh,” a reference to the shuttered Adventurer’s Club, which formerly operated at Walt Disney World in Florida.
“My favorite thing about Adventureland Day is seeing the nostalgia-loving community channel their inner explorer through themed outfits,” said Shawna Tice, a floral designer from Yorba Linda. “Even people who shy away from sticking out of the crowd on a normal basis shine brightly in khaki and animal print that would put a smile on Walt himself.”
Adventureland goes fab with Shawna Tice and her mom Pamela in the Court of Angels. Photo credit: Pamela Keller, 2023 all rights reserved
By late morning, the weather had turned breezy with a light rain, so the explorers took cover in Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, where they formed a lovely (at times) chorus alongside José and his pals.
Some Highlights of Adventureland Day
“For me, some of the highlights from Adventureland Day come from the Enchanted Tiki Room experience,” said Clocky McDowell, host of the Sent from Disneyland Podcast visiting from Sacramento. “From the rousing “aloha” response to the Cast Member, to everyone singing along, and finally, the newly wed couple sitting next to me who were not there for the event who got a unique experience in the attraction.”
Who says dapper and adventure don’t mix. Clocky McDowell of the Sent from Disneyland Podcast shows off his swanky duds. Photo credit: Freddy Martin, 2023 all rights reserved
Then, the massive group, by then swelled to the hundreds, swarmed the boats of the World Famous Jungle Cruise, and the skippers were ready and waiting. Boat after boat left the dock full to the brim with throngs of explorers, all eager to experience the ride’s famous humor and surprises.
“Riding The Jungle Cruise with an entire boatful of people dressed to fit the era the attraction is a surreal and amazing experience that adds an even deeper element of immersion to one of Walt’s greatest attractions,” said Ft. Collins Colorado’s Alex Stewart, host of The Backside of Water Podcast.
Next, Main Street USA became Adventureland for a few moments as the crowd gathered for a mammoth group photo on the steps of the Disneyland Railroad Station.
Attendees then received a barrage of text messages inviting them to join the park-wide scavenger hunt and seek out clues leading to a secret treasure. Guests spread throughout the park searching for hidden details and planted clues which led them to the back corner of Critter Country to claim their prize, commemorative collector’s pins.
Intrepid explorers attempt to make sense of the clues that were hidden in plain sight throughout Disneyland Park on Adventureland Day, 2023. Photo credit: Pamela Keller, 2023 all rights reserved
“Seeing kids and kids-at-heart solving text clues and using our clue sheet for the treasure hunt just warms my heart and fuels my creativity tenfold,” said Murphy.
One of those kids was Pepper, a 10 year-old from Orange. Dressed in a kaleidoscope of tropical butterflies (yes, that’s what a group of them is called), she hurried her parents around the park to find the clues and collect her prize.
“Adventureland Day means fun and happiness,” said Pepper about the day’s events. “To me it means Kungaloosh!”
Despite the Indiana Jones Adventure and the upcoming Adventureland Treehouse attractions being closed for refurbishment, the attendees made the most of the park’s themed lands concluding their expeditions aboard the boats of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in New Orleans Square.
What is plural for Indiana Jones? A gaggle of Jonesies make their point at the South Seas Traders on Adventureland Day, 2023. Photo credit: Freddy Martin, 2023 all rights reserved
With their day of adventure come to a close, the intrepid explorers gathered at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar and places unknown to swap stories and raise a glass to another successful Adventureland Day.
“Adventureland Day gives people the chance to create and jump into their own adventure story,” said 15 year-old Banyan from San Diego.
Daring explorer Banyan gets set for more adventures as a Jungle Cruise boat arrives in the distance. Photo credit: Freddy Martin, 2023 all rights reserved
“They get to share their creativity with other dreamers at this event, which builds on the adventure, fun, and imagination. Just like Walt Disney himself wanted.”
Check out out fun photo gallery:
Do you want to participate in Adventureland Day? Let us know!