1.) First of all, let’s talk about what NOT to do. (If this room is for a child, these things I will tell you to avoid may be perfect for them.) Stuffed jungle animals, animal prints, rainbow leis, wall murals, complicated wall-papers, posters of a beach, or any other cliché or direct translations of the theme. We’re looking to draw inspiration from our favorite jungle-centric Disney rides, not create cheap knock-offs. Decorating with a theme like this works best when you stay subtle, otherwise instead of feeling energized, your room may just make you feel like you’re in the Goodwill for theme parks. You want to capture the feeling, not the exact look. To do that, you would need Imagineers…and I’m guessing none of us has that kind of money!
2.) Second, get reacquainted with the rides. Do some Googling and some YouTubing! Pay attention to what you see. Most times, Disney doesn’t just go for a jungle theme…they go for a jungle theme from a certain time period. Because these rides were constructed when Walt Disney was alive, they all have a very 1950’s feel to them. Don’t be afraid to go there!
3.) If you’re a big Disney geek, like me, consider finding one of your favorite pictures of you, or you and your spouse, visiting these rides and use those as inspiration. Frame them and hang them on the wall. Who cares if they’re not professional quality! This is all about creating a room that gives you a warm happy feeling. There’s no better memory to base a room around than a vacation memory. If that doesn’t sit right with you, consider some pictures of the rides that don’t look touristy, such as close ups or some more blurred artistic shots. You’ll still get the color palette you want and you’ll have a unique twist on the themes. In our bedroom, we have several close-ups of Adventureland framed and mounted on the wall.
4.) These rides are all about, drumroll…the jungle. The Hawaiian jungle, the Amazon jungle, and many others included on the Jungle Cruise. So the main color you will want to focus on will be green! No pastels though. No mint either. Think leafy greens. Stay away from dark greens, especially for wall colors in this particular case, as they can give more of a “hunting lodge” look and confuse the theme. If you would like to go for more of the Tiki Room feel, don’t be afraid to add in some blues as well as having the freedom to use a wider range of bright colors. But not too many at once, or it will look like an early 90’s explosion. Pick just a few.
5.) When it comes to curtains, I suggest white gauzy sheers that reach to the floor. They have a very “mosquito net” feel and they’re nice and subtle. But they do add some subliminal detail that can help make your illusion complete. Just make sure to add blinds behind them.
6.) Houseplants are going to be a must! If you have any pets though, make sure the ones you choose aren’t poisonous. Find something with large leaves, that grows upward and place it in a corner somewhere. If you are leaning more toward the Jungle Cruise theme, forget about flowers. If you’re looking for more of a Tiki Room feel, consider a “bird of paradise” or another flowering Hawaiian plant.
7.) Dark wooden bedframes, nightstands, or dressers fit appropriately with the theme.
8.) When it comes to lighting, think lanterns! I’m not talking Coleman camping lanterns so much as I am those that may have an antique feel or be lit with candles. They can offer relaxing or romantic lighting, and also add to the theme of jungle exploration. As an added bonus, they can be hung on the walls or simply set on a dresser or nightstand.
9.) If you’re working with a bedroom and you have a four poster bed, consider draping materials similar to the curtains along the top of your bed creating a canopy or intertwining some of that material along the posts somehow.
10.) No props! No pitch helmets, plastic birds, fake vines, or other dust gathering eye sores! Don’t decorate in such a way that just makes more work for you when it comes to cleaning time. If you’re feeling tempted to buy these types of things, just tell yourself, “It’s another Billy the Bass” situation. Leave the animatronics and props to Disney, you just work on making a room you’ll love!
11.) Bamboo accessories can fit very nicely as well, as long as you choose the right ones. Consider some wooden chests made of a dark bamboo or a similarly thatched looking material. (I don’t often advocate wicker, but you may want to search Hobby Lobby for some wooden-based wicker chests.) Chests not only add to the feel of the room, but they’re handy for storing bed linens and blankets too!
12.) If it’s all feeling too monochromatic for you, try the use of a canvas color to lighten things up a bit and bridge the gap between greens and dark browns. Also, a white bed spread can, as the Dude would say, “really tie the room together” and give it a summery feel all year long.
13.) Don’t be afraid to decorate with maps. Maps are cool! Don’t let anybody tell you different. They’re very adventurous in look and feel. An added bonus, and this is really getting into details, would be to find a yellowed looking map to frame that shows a newly discovered Hawaii or maps of the Amazon river from a hundred years ago. Inaccurate maps aren’t just good for a giggle, they’re “vintage” chic. Globes would work too…but it’s tough to find one that isn’t a real spacehog.
Compasses are also ideal as wall-hangings. The more map-themed you get, the more piratey the room may feel, which is just fine! If that’s what you want, skip all the greens and add some reds and follow the same tips. If you really wanted to, you could just call this your “adventureland” based-room and use elements from all three rides.
14.) This may be taking it a little too far, but find a white noise machine with some rain sounds or rainforest sounds…and you’re set for life. I know, it’s a little tacky. But hey, this is a very dignified and scaled down, stylistic version of the park attractions. You have to throw in a little tack here and there, right?
15.) If it’s just not intricate enough for you, research the explosion of the Polynesian style craze that was popular in post-war America from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. If you like Disney’s themed attractions, you may come to find that this is where many of them found their original inspirations.