When I first heard about the new Disneyland Resort Premium Experiences, I thought, “Hmmmm… These could be very interesting and VERY fun!” So far there have been two offerings, The Mystical Spirits of the Blue Bayou Dinner and The Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast.
My friend and I recently treated ourselves to the Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast and it was an amazing experience. My visit took place during the Disney Holidays Season, so the Jungle Cruise was transformed into the Jingle Cruise. Hence, my festive outfit, which you’ll see later.
When you attend the Sunrise Safari Breakfast, you must actually arrive at the resort BEFORE sunrise. Our morning started off with a “feels like it’s still the middle of the night” 5:30am meet up time at the Grand Californian Hotel. (Valet parking is included with your experience.) I’m normally not a fan of waking up at 4:00am, but it was definitely interesting to see what was going on at the hotel during these wee hours of the morning. It was pretty fun to witness the lobby’s Christmas Tree getting installed…
After check in, you are lead to Disneyland via lantern and escorted to the African Veldt of the Jungle Cruise. The entrance is through a “hidden” door inside the Indiana Jones attraction. Entering backstage through a secret door?!? This is already a good time!
When you step foot on the African Veldt, you are immediately welcomed by cast members serving up a refreshing juice concoction called “Skipper’s Choice.” It’s a combination of pineapple, orange and guava juice — YEP, POG juice!
You then notice the old timey music playing. And guess what? It’s playing on an actual record player. The 1940’s swing tunes really set the mood. We walked over to check it out and this was the view…
Upon check in, you are given a table number. Guests are seated at tables of 4 complete with white linens and camp style chairs.
Remember it’s early, so coffee drinkers rejoice, the French Press is offered up immediately for that morning wake up if you need it!
While drinks are being served, you can take a moment to realize exactly where you are! The dining area is set just behind the African Veldt.
You’ve got these guys just behind you…
And you’ve got a lovely pair of zebras in front of you…
During our greeting, we were warned that we had a very important duty to achieve membership into the Fraternal League of Secret Skippers: we must memorize our “lines” for the after-breakfast cruise! Each guest is given a card with a classic Jungle Cruise spiel on it. You have the option to stick to the script or freestyle on your own. I’m a stick to the script type of gal myself.
Our hostess, Edith, was FULL of energy as she cracked jokes while introducing herself to each table. She posed for me and let me know that this was her “good” side. She played the part perfectly!
After greetings from Edith and looking over our cards, our first item was brought to the table. The Exotic Fruit Chia Parfait was not only gorgeous, it was delicious as well. This non dairy delight was topped with Fresh Fruit including Pineapple, Papaya, Starfruit, and Dragon Fruit.
In the center of the chia seed and coconut milk “pudding” there was a perfectly tart layer of Raspberry Compote. It was garnished with an Edible Orchid. I loved the presentation and the flavors of the Exotic Fruit Chia Parfait, so much so that I think I’ll try to recreate this one at home!
Next up? A glorious basket of baked goods including Butter Croissants, Guava & Cream Cheese Empanadas, and Pineapple Coconut Cake.
Since I am quite familiar with croissants, I went ahead and skipped them. I opted for the Pineapple Coconut Cake and the Guava & Cream Cheese Empanadas, both of which were amazing. The Pineapple Coconut Cake was moist, sweet and speckled with tiny fresh pineapple chunks. The coconut flakes on top added some great texture.
My favorite item in the basket was by far the Guava & Cream Cheese Empanada.
The flaky pastry was served warm and had a center filled with Sweet Guava Jelly & Cream Cheese. Really a perfect pastry, I wish it was available at Jolly Holiday Bakery so I could have it again!
After we indulged in pastries, breakfast was served. The meal consisted of Scrambled Eggs with Spices, Potato & Onion Hash, Duck Seared Sausage, and Honey Glazed Pork Belly with a Snap Pea Garnish. The entire meal was top notch, again with the gorgeous presentation. How great is the little cast iron pot that the eggs are served in? It was like eating at a 5 star restaurant, while sitting in the jungle.
I was impressed that the meal was served at the perfect temperature because A) it was a freezing morning and B) the food came from the Disneyland Hotel. The event planners have perfected the dining logistics just right. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed each item on my plate. I’m not a fan of duck, though, so I was a bit nervous about the sausage. I was quite surprised that the meat was not gamey tasting at all. It was my least favorite item of the morning, but that’s just because I’m not normally a duck eater! Everything else, I devoured.
Something that I loved about the Sunrise Safari Breakfast portion of the experience was that not once did we feel rushed to hurry up and finish. We had plenty of time to enjoy our meal, look around the area, and pose for photos as well. Disney Photopass Photographers were there to document the morning and we were given access to the digital downloads as part of the package.
I do wish we were able to get a little closer to the Veldt residents, but you know Disney and their darn safety rules!!! Here’s a fun photo of my pal and me with the locals.
Once breakfast was finished, the group of soon to be Skippers was escorted to the docks to board our boats. Two different boats were used to accommodate the group. Cards in hand, we boarded the “Kissimmee Under the Mistletoe” and prepared for our first round of Skipper training. Before starting though, each of us posed with our adorable skipper, Mariana. I wish I knew that the photo was being used for the take away gift, because I wouldn’t have made this stupid face… Oh well.
The way it worked was that Mariana drove us around and stopped at each “spiel” spot. The mic was passed to the person who had the corresponding card. You could read from the card or make up your own joke. I’m pretty sure most of us read from the cards! We did the cruise loop twice, each time with different lines. I got the hippo pool on my second run and nailed it!
Here are some fun scenes from the Jingle Cruise:
I loved this years addition of “Banana Bread Scent” to the holiday bakers scene.
And how cute are these guys? Santa’s mustache on the left is a great touch!
Also, this Ugly Christmas Sweater Party looks amazing. I’d love to join them. Props to the guy wearing a Christmas Tree Skirt as an actual skirt!
When we were finished with the second round, we were sworn in as members of the Fraternal League of Secret Skippers. I can’t tell you how that went or what our secret greeting is because I don’t want to lose my membership! Upon stepping foot back on land, we were gifted a very special take away. A gorgeous crate with our skipper photo in sepia tone on the front. There’s that dumb photo of me from earlier! Thankfully it looks not as crazy in sepia tone.
You might be wondering…what’s in the box????? Well, let me show you! The box transforms into a super cool Jungle Cruise mask/statue type of situation. It’s heavy and made very well too. The “crystal” looking piece in the back is a spearhead. Each honorary skipper gets to take one home.
So now that I’ve taken you on this fun adventure, let’s talk about the cost of the Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast. It was not cheap; in fact at $300 a person it is quite expensive. You may think this is ridiculous, however, I look at this as an experience, not just “breakfast at the Jungle Cruise.” You’re paying to do something that’s really a once in a lifetime event. How often can you go “backstage” at Disneyland and explore one of your favorite attractions so intimately?
The morning’s group consisted of a family celebrating a birthday, a college professor with a love for the Jungle Cruise living out his skipper dream, a few cast members treating themselves to a special day, some annual passholders, people on vacation… In general, regular people who share a love for the Jungle Cruise & wanted a premium experience.
All in all I think that the guests in attendance enjoyed themselves and felt the experience was worth it. I know I did. But that’s me speaking, and you know what a Disney geek I am. The whole morning was well executed: great food, great fun, incredible Cast Members, and a really cool souvenir to remind me of this awesome day.
From start to finish, the event lasts approximately 3 hours, the official end time was 8:30, but we were exiting the main gate pretty close to 9:00 at park opening. On a side note, the $300 does not include your park admission for the day; you are escorted out of the park when the experience is over. If you have tickets or an annual pass & want to stay in the park, you must exit and re-enter through the main gates.
The Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast is currently not booking, but keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog. The event was so successful that there are talks to open up more dates in the near future. I can’t wait to see what’s in store as far as more premium experiences go. I’d like to put in a request for “Candy Maker for a Day.” How do I make that happen?????
Would you like to become a member of the Fraternal League of Secret Skippers? What do you think about the new “Premium Experience” events? Would you pay for one if it were held at YOUR favorite attraction? Let us know in the comments below.