Walt Disney was always inspired by the wonders of nature and produced many documentaries and live-action films on the subject. When creating Disneyland, he immediately thought of dedicating a land to the natural world. As he once famously said, “The unbelievable splendor of exotic flowers… the eerie sound of the jungle…with eyes that are always watching. This is Adventureland.”
Originally, this land was to be called “True-Life Adventureland,” a reference to the True-Life Adventures (1948-1960) series of 13 documentary films. Celebrating the wonders of nature like the savannah (The African Lion, 1955) and the jungle (Jungle Cat, 1960), the series won eight Academy Awards.
Eventually, the name became “Adventureland,” but the inspiration behind it remained. This explains why the series logo – a compass—can be found at Disneyland Paris on the arch which marks the entrance of Adventureland. It reminds us that nature shall prevail, as the lush vegetation invites us on a journey to the farthest reaches of the earth.
Disneyland Paris gardeners use their unique skills to recreate and upkeep these exotic sceneries right in the heart of the Brie region. They carefully select cold-hardy plants like bamboo which offer a natural protection against the wind and prevent harsh winter temperature drops.
Towering over the south side of Adventure Isle, La Cabane des Robinson is covered by a gigantic banyan tree which directly hints at Swiss Family Robinson (1960), an adventure film about a family that sets sail to New Guinea at the turn of the 19th century to escape home and shipwrecks on an uncharted tropical island. Once ashore, they must undertake the extraordinary task of constructing a home for themselves, all the while fending off pirates in the region.
The film proved to be the most successful production in 1960, so much so that the Swiss Family Tree House opened at Disneyland Resort on November 18, 1962. A similar attraction opened at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom park in Florida on October 1, 1971, and at Tokyo Disneyland on July 21, 1993.
At Disneyland Paris, La Cabane des Robinson opened with Disneyland Park. If the tree is presented as a “gigantic fig tree” in the original story, the one present at Disneyland Paris is endemic to Disney Parks. Known as Disneyodendron semperflorens grandis, it has more than 300,000 leaves. The tree house has four levels connected by a spiral staircase. From the kitchen to the children’s bedroom, each “room” was inspired by the film, recycling elements either from nature like bamboo or from the wreck of the Swallow which is moored nearby. Among the unusual props displayed in this jungle apartment are a hatbox containing an authentic 18th century top hat, hundreds of shells, a cauldron, a pump organ and two massive anchors.
The north side of Adventure Isle pays homage to Treasure Island (1950), Disney’s first completely live-action film. At Disneyland Paris, Adventure Isle enables daring guests to make believe they are pirates and go on a hunt for Captain Flint’s treasure. They can choose to take the Floating Bridge or the Suspension Bridge, climb to the top of Pirate Lookout—the freebooters’ watch tower flying the black flag on Spyglass Hill—or decide to pass by the very spot where Jim Hawkins resisted Long John Silver’s attacks in the film. The most adventurous can attempt to find the cave with hidden treasure, exploring six galleries along the way: Ambush Alley , Davy Jones’ Locker, Dead Man’s Maze, Spyglass Pass, Hook’s Hideout and Keehaul Cavern, the most eerie of all guarded by a swarm of bats and filled with the skeletons of the unfortunate souls who dare to step inside. But who knows? Perhaps you’ll have better luck and find the treasure. You may sit on the pirate throne carved into the rock right next to it and enjoy your unexpected wealth!
If you’re still in need of adventure, make your way to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril! This wild ride aboard a minecart featuring an impressive 360-degree loop is reminiscent of the breathtaking chase from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) which takes place in India.
In the movie, the story is set in 1935, and Professor Jones accidently lands in India as he tries to escape the clutches of his assailants. In the park, the story takes place in 1940 and invites guests to explore an archeological site. After travelling the world in search of the Lost Ark and the Holy Grail, Indiana Jones successfully convinces his university to finance new research on the site of the Lost City in the Indian jungle. The magnitude of the undertaking calls for the installation of an underground rail network to help the extraction work which reveals an enormous temple. Its rounded architecture, staircase and bell-shaped capital recall the Vidyashankara temple in South West India, while the awe-inspiring statues of Naga, the royal cobra, seem to prove that the temple is dedicated to Shiva, whose reptile is the symbol of protection in the Hindu religion.
Along the way, you will see many references to the films, whether it be Indiana’s famous whip or the crates full of artifacts addressed to the Professor’s university, Barnett College in Fairfield, not far from New York City. Once inside the temple, it is time for you to board one of the minecarts! And if you have the slightest remaining doubt before you leave, remember this ancient motto: “The treasures of the world await those who dare to soar high!”