Watch out, Jungle Cruise. Sony has once again set Jumanji loose in the real world, this time in the guise of a theme park attraction. The sprawling jungles of Chris Van Allsburg’s deathtrap utopia have found a new home in Gardaland Resort, Italy’s version of Universal Studios located off the shores of Lake Garda in Verona’s northeastern Castelnuovo del Garda. Entertainment Weekly offers an exclusive first look into the new Jumanji theme park ride, an indoor ride “full of pitfalls, surprises, and dangers through the wild jungle” — sans Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart. (At least for now.)
Official concept art for the Jumanji theme park ride features deadly anacondas, virulent baboons, and a starving hippo thrice its usual size threatening to consume a packed Jeep full of screaming passengers. The vehicle is skidding down a guided track surreptitiously buried under huge clumps of grass and soft soil. The attraction is reminiscent of popular interactive dark rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Snow White’s Scary Adventures in Disneyland and Men in Black: Alien Attack in Universal Studios Florida. The prowling beasts will likely be switched out for animatronics and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) made to resemble the computer-generated versions from the films. Jumanji’s man-eating hippos made a momentous appearance in reboot-sequel Welcome To The Jungle, chomping Bethany Walker as Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black) whole as Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart’s characters look on in horror. Check it out here:
Going for Gardaland over more recognizable amusement parks may seem like an atypical corporate decision, but executives are reportedly confident about their choice of location — and the business partner to accompany it. Jeffrey Godsick, executive vice-president of global partnerships and brand management and head of location-based entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment, tells Joey Nolfi of Entertainment Weekly in a statement: “The team at Gardaland are top-notch creatives and storytellers who have designed an immersive experience that expands on the world created by the films. Adding many new elements, fans will be transported far beyond their imagination, deep into the jungles of Jumanji.”
Similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, which has Captain Jack Sparrow himself integrated into the ride the Jumanji theme park ride will presumably star all five central avatars from Welcome Of The Jungle: Dr. Xander Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black), Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Jefferson McDonough (Nick Jonas).
While it’s obvious Gardaland won’t be using real-life anacondas, baboons, and hippopotamuses in the development of its Jumanji theme park ride, it’s not entirely clear if Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Nick Jonas’s avatars will receive an automated guided vehicle (AGV) of their own, or feature character actors that best resemble the original cast. The ever-present Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean is played by a rotating group of performers — and in some cases, by Johnny Depp himself. The designated villain of the franchise, a particularly vicious NPC going by the name Russell Van Pelt, may cameo in the attraction as well. Though whether Gardaland will be using Jonathan Hyde’s take from the first film or Bobby Cannavale’s in the remake remains to be seen.
Jumanji tells the story of the eponymous board game whose wildlife terrors come alive when played. It has since been converted into a role-playing video game to suit the times. The last installment, The Next Level, takes off a few years after the events of Welcome To The Jungle; Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff) finds himself stuck inside Jumanji during a depressive rut. His friends scramble over to retrieve him, embodying their original avatars — Dwayne Johnson’s Dr. Smolder included — from the last movie. A fourth film is currently in the works. The Jumanji theme park ride opens in 2022 at Gardaland Resort, Italy.