The Jungle Cruise is a real boat ride, through thick vegetation. Creating a scale model of vegetation isn't usually very easy. I could buy and place 50 tiny trees, but that would make Jungle Cruise twice as detailed as my other ride models.
When I spotted this stack of evaporative cooling pads at Lowe's hardware store, I thought I might have found a solution. Evaporative coolers are a cheap kind of air-conditioning which is generally used for large warehouse spaces. They cool the air, but increase the humidity. Sometimes they are known as "swamp coolers".
The pads are green and are designed to have as much surface area as possible without inhibiting air flow too much. The effect is a nice organized surface which is uniformly detailed.
This would make a great jungle! I started with an appropriately-sized patch, drew the path of the river in chalk and cut out a narrow channel.
This would look great! If you squint your eyes, you can see that the Jungle Cruise follows a pathway a bit like the outline of the continents of the world. North and South America on the left, Eurasia and Africa on the right.
To create a look of water, I examined some water effects used for model railroading. There were some good options available, but I was won over by one of Matthew Albanese's fantastic landscape tricks: Plastic wrap.
I used spray glue to attach the plastic film to a base of black foam board.
The film was hopelessly wrinkled, but it looked a lot like dark river water. I glued on the jungle mat, and made some little boats.
Flat boats seemed good enough until I discovered a cache of striped paper in the house. I made a tiny sun canopy with toothpick supports.
I love this photo! I couldn't have asked for better water ripples than what I'm seeing on this plastic wrap. They are really superb.
Plus! I made a swamp out of a swamp cooler pad!
The results were really great! I loved my new jungle cruise, and I couldn't wait to see it nestled on the big map between Main street and the Indiana Jones pyramid.
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