A History of Hideaway Island, Part One: Edward Riles
This is the third part of my continuing series on Disney’s Jungle Hideaway Resort & Spa, my own backyard Imagineering project. Part two, The Story of a Fan and His Journey to Become a Backyard Imagineer, can be read here.
They say that everything the Imagineers create begins with a story. This is the first part of A History of Hideaway Island, the story to be told by Disney’s Jungle Hideaway Resort and Spa.
Edward Theodore Riles was born in London, England on 17 July 1768. He was raised by loving, affluent parents who nurtured his early love for adventure. As a child, Edward wandered the city, discovering new things he had never seen before, often attracted to the river. He frequently played near the docks, watching ships come and go and people arriving and departing from exotic places all around the world—places he wanted to see himself. When he was through exploring all he could at home, he decided to take to the sea, and enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of fifteen, on 30 July 1783.
There is no doubt Riles was a terrific seaman. However, nobody paid much attention to him at the beginning of his career. Nevertheless, he managed to rise through the ranks in the navy. Being born blessed with a vivid imagination, he had an astounding ability to tell marvellous tales, dazzling his mates and impressing them to no end. He used this talent to draw attention to his great feats and heroic actions, which otherwise went unnoticed. His stories became legendary in the Royal Navy. He was always willing to tell a tale, and men were always eager to listen.
Over time, his stories began drawing impressive audiences, and whilst on shore leave, Edward would fill taverns anywhere with bewildered seamen listening in awe. In this way, he made friends with many tavern-keepers, who were always overjoyed when he entered their establishments—and thirsty listeners followed. On occasion, he was lucky enough to have a superior officer amidst the crowd. He would never fail to stupefy them—and they would never fail to promote him.
Riles was tall—nearly seven feet—and had an appearance that was both handsome and commanding. But it was more than his looks that would prove to be notable. Riles was a born leader. When he was honoured with a promotion, he took advantage of all the opportunities that came with his new title. As the Royal Navy’s finest navigator, he and his men were often assigned the most difficult exploration missions. Agile and quick thinking in times of distress, Riles was also quite accomplished in battle at sea.
His men had come to learn that it was wisest to follow his orders without questioning his judgment, for he had never let them down before. His cunning had saved them from tragedy on more than one occasion. They had their fair share of run-ins with pirates, terrible storms, enemies of the Crown, and countless other dangers, but Riles had dominated every conflict without concern.
After forty-five years of service, Riles retired with the honourable title of Admiral on 30 July 1828.
Life with Elizabeth
When he returned home, Edward sought his childhood friend, Elizabeth. During his service, they had never stopped exchanging letters, and had come to love each other dearly. He proposed to her, and they were married in an intimate ceremony a few days later, on 4 October 1828.
They moved into Edward’s childhood home, the beautiful London mansion his parents had willed to him. In their advanced age, Elizabeth and Edward never had the opportunity to have any children, and with no living family members of their own, they were each other’s only company.
They travelled all over the globe together, visiting exotic locations, from the plains of Africa to the streets of Shanghai. But, after only a decade of their adventures together, Elizabeth grew too tired to travel any longer. And so, they returned to London and moved from their home there to Edward’s estate in the countryside. A few months later, Elizabeth became tragically afflicted with pneumonia, and the sickness took her life on 20 January 1839, at the age of seventy.
After Elizabeth’s passing, Edward spent most of his days at home, often in his map room or library. The map room stored the vast collection of charts, globes, and maps he had acquired during his naval service. They depicted locales few people even knew existed, some of them discovered by Riles himself and first mapped by his hand. He would pore over them for hours, trying to learn from them everything they could teach him. The library was filled with his parents’ collections, in addition to the volumes he had gathered on his travels. Some of these were written in foreign tongues, but during his service, he had become quite fluent in the French, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese languages. He read anything and everything, with the exception of the newspaper—he wanted nothing to do with current events. He was especially fond of books telling stories of exotic explorations and discoveries, and enjoyed the journals and diaries of sailors and explorers. The generous inheritance from his parents allowed him to live quite comfortably in that home.
Edward only ever left his estate on Sundays to visit the church and on Saturdays for relaxing at the tavern and doing his shopping. He was never fond of the complexity of society, and business and politics offended him. He much preferred the simplicity of nature. In spite of this, he was not naive to the civilised world outside his estate—he had a deep understanding of the workings of society, a knowledge that only contributed to his disdain for it.
Edward was frustrated and perplexed by the entanglements of social relationships. Elizabeth had been the only person to whom Edward ever opened his heart. Once a revered and decorated hero, he had since been forgotten by his countrymen. He had but a few friends, and drinking and storytelling formed the extent of their relationships. He never met them outside the village tavern. No person was ever invited inside his home. Edward was a loner by every definition of the word.
The fourth part of my continuing series on Disney’s Jungle Hideaway Resort & Spa, A History of Hideaway Island, Part Two: The Elizabeth, can be read here.
Neither this work nor its author are affiliated in any way with The Walt Disney Company or its subsidiaries. The use of the Disney name or the mention of Disney properties is not intended to imply any such affiliation or infringe on any existing copyrights or registered trademarks held by The Walt Disney Company but are used in context for educational purposes.
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Posted on January 28, 2013, in A History of Hideaway Island, Backyard Imagineering, Disney's Jungle Hideaway, Story and tagged Adventure, Amazon, Backstory, Explorers, Fan Fiction, Imagineering, Jungle Cruise. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.