The adventure of walking through Adventureland at Disneyland should get easier in a few weeks.
Park officials confirmed plans to close two shops, move another, and create an indoor dining space for the Bengal Barbecue Restaurant to make walking in the area smoother for visitors.
Regular park visitors have long known that the area between the restaurant and the entrance to the Indiana Jones attraction is one of the most congested areas to walk through on almost any day.
Along with that choke point, strollers are parked in the middle of the walkway, creating an additional bottleneck.
To ease the congestion, the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost and South Seas Traders shops, both next to the restaurant, will close Monday, June 12, to begin conversion into an indoor seating area. Park officials said the space will also be air conditioned.
Another part of the project calls for the Tropical Imports shop to close Thursday, June 29. That shop sells fresh fruits and a variety of drinks and is located next to the exit to the Jungle Cruise.
It will move into a space adjacent to the Bengal Barbecue, and the space it vacates will become the stroller parking for the area, moving it out of the middle of the walkway. Additionally, the park plans to remove a planter near the barbecue to improve crowd flow.
Plans call for the barbecue, which opened in 1992, to remain open for the entire project, which is expected to be complete by the end of June.
The restaurant offers skewers of barbecued meat and vegetables, among other items.
It occupies a space that previously housed an orange juice bar run by Sunkist. When Sunkist left the park, Disney Imagineers at the park were tasked with coming up with ideas for a new food operation for the space.
“We came up with a back story that a tree in Adventureland was struck by lightning, hollowed out the tree and left a permanent fire,” said Steve Feicht, the Imagineering art director on the project.
Feicht helped design the facility, including the fake tree that serves as the barbecue. On one side of the tree, which sits behind the order counter, are three monkeys carved into it just like the ones depicted as “See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil.”
“The rest of our back story was that traders in the area found the smoldering tree and decided to turn it into a barbecue,” Feicht said.
The restaurant has long been popular with visitors and there is frequently a line to order the skewers. But its location across from the Indiana Jones attraction has long been a choke point for crowds that also has to make their way around the entrance to the Tarzan’s Treehouse attraction to get to New Orleans Square and points beyond.
Besides the regular menu, the restaurant is also serving some special menu items for a limited time that include an Ahi Poke Spring Roll, a hummus trio and a tropical drink called a “Jungle Julep,” a slush made with grape, orange, pineapple and lemon.