— Instructions

"JUMANJI" is a seemingly antique board game with elaborate decorations to attract interest to the young in heart and easily bored. Anyone that has played this supernatural game has discovered that "JUMANJI" appears to have a mind of its own (some surviving players even claim that it is cursed) that doesn't rest until those who start playing it, gain the will to finish. The magical powers "JUMANJI" possesses vary from being able to send players into its African jungle-like alternate reality or to send the dangers of said reality into the real world like the original. "JUMANJI" gets antsy when it is left unfinished, and on occasion it sends out enticing drumbeats to attract potential players and victims.

"JUMANJI" is also known to have an outerspace-themed "sibling", known as: "ZATHURA" , with identical purpose to keep its finders busy and unable to escape unless the space adventure is finished.

Both "JUMANJI" and "ZATHURA" are unclear in their origins, but the games both share identical traits, intentionally seeking out the younger demographic who are easily bored and crave excitement in their mundane or boring lives. These games also have the tendency to mess with said players itself with their savage nature.



Judy and Peter play the game.

In the original picture book, the "JUMANJI" game is as simple as any other board game, being a folded board within a rectangular box. The game board is designed for two players that use simple playing pieces and dice, to move their token along an elongated squared path that starts in the deepest jungle and leads to the final space; "JUMANJI" itself, a city of golden buildings and towers. Each square has a unique written message that will manifest into the real world when a token lands on it. Only when the winner lands their token on the golden city and calls out the name of "JUMANJI" will the consequences vanish and everything become undone.

In the book's sequel, Zathura, Danny wanted to play "JUMANJI" with his brother after he found it, but Walter was uninterested as he saw the game's jungle animal / adventure theme as childish. Danny then discovered a second board game within the "JUMANJI" box, an outer space / sci-fi orientated futuristic game known as: "ZATHURA" .


The game's board.

The most widely known version of "JUMANJI" is the 1995 film's depiction. "JUMANJI" is a stylized rectangular folded box, carved out of wood. The attraction of the game is down to the elaborate painting on the front, which is reminiscent of circus posters.


The game's title is held together by a long spear to coincide with portraits in each corner of Van Pelt, a Monkey, a Rhinoceros and an Elephant against a deep jungle, vast lake and volcanic activity, all symbolize the exciting consequences in store; all of which are held together by a bronze zig-zag pattern akin to the book's golden city.

In the film's novelization, "JUMANJI" has a different painting layout, which adds Lions and exotic birds to the menagerie as well.


Inside the folded box rests the game board. Wooden play cards on each side contain written rules for playing the game; Ignoring the rules can lead to disastrous consequences for the player. Flip-lid cupboards store the game dice and playing pieces when not in use. The game board is decorated with carved fallen leaves, in amongst the four individual trails of squared pathways for each player that all lead to the crystal ball in the center, which is also covered by a bronze zig-zag pattern also (alluding to the book's golden city).



"JUMANJI" dislikes being left alone and unplayed, therefore will emit an enchanting but primal and primitive war-like drumbeat to attract the attention of any nearby children and entice them into playing the game. Adults seem to be oblivious to the drumming: evidently when Alan searched for the drumbeat source in 1969 while the construction workers headed for the snack van unaware of the drums, while in 1995, Nora Shepherd tried to catch her niece and nephew's attention when they were clearly entranced by the drumming coming from the attic.

However, the brothers Caleb & Benjamin were both frightened of the drum sounds due to their previous "JUMANJI" gaming experience, making Benjamin believe the game was actually after him when he fell into the pit with the game.

Auto control

Up to four players can participate in a round of "JUMANJI" gameplay, where turns are determined by whoever starts rolling the dice when they take out game playing pieces which are automatically telekinetically controlled to move along the paths on their own. The tokens automatically move along the pathways by themselves and cannot be removed by human hands when set on the board. Once a specific player rolls on their turn, they must continue to play or the game will come to a halt and reject rolls from anyone else. The four-game tokens or pieces are idol-like figurines of a Keratin Rhinoceros, Metallic Elephant, Obsidian Crocodile and Jade Monkey.

  • An similar Elephant token later acts as a clue in the video game version.


The game's riddle.

A prominent feature in all its appearances, once the player's piece lands on a square, "JUMANJI" crystal ball will provide a rhyming riddle message to inform players what will begin to manifest into reality, whatever the text reads, placing randomized consequences into the real world to challenge players. The animals, humans, the danger, and other characters that live in "JUMANJI" can't normally be killed and they can only be stopped by finishing the game, hence why the instructions advise players to not being unless they intend to finish by reaching the game's crystal ball center, calling out the name of "JUMANJI" and therefore undo all the consequences and alternative timelines of the game.

Another aspect of the board game is a randomized consequence of actually transporting the player in question into the crystal ball, which is the gateway into the deepest, darkest jungle dimension of "JUMANJI" itself. They will be unable to leave until their riddle message has been resolved.

The only thing that that the "JUMANJI" game hates more than being left unplayed (to the point its drum-like "heart" is heard) is cheaters, so whenever someone plays dishonestly by changing the dice or tampering with one of its inter-reality puzzles and minigames, that very player has to face magical punishment by getting turned into an animal, namely their game piece, (Monkey, Rhinoceros, Elephant and Crocodile).

Time control

The 1969 Staircase.

The 1995 Staircase.

"JUMANJI" can create and manipulate timelines whenever a round of gameplay has begun. The effects can be devastating and can leave a lasting impact, hence why the instructions advise players to not begin unless they intend to finish. The traditional objective to undo the consequences and timeline the game unleashes is to complete the whole game and call out its name. In the picture book, after Judy lands on the "JUMANJI" city and calls out the name, the consequences, and elements that were transported into reality had suddenly disappeared, and everything that suffered damaging had been undone.

In the original movie, all of the characters appear to believe that all of the dangers that have been released will simply be sucked back into the game when it's over and it will remain 1995. The reason time reverses to 1969 is because while the majority of the game was played in 1995, it actually began in 1969 and the consequences that had to be reversed included Alan being trapped for twenty-six years and the bats that Sarah released.

"JUMANJI" appears to save the memories of all that happens within it, evidenced by Alex Vreeke's finding and staying in a shelter built by Alan Parrish, despite Alan reversing back to his time in 1969 by finishing his game in the alternative 1995. Alex Vreeke suggests that Alan Parrish is not the only player to have gotten stuck in "JUMANJI" over time, further proven by Benjamin and Caleb's backstory, while the animated series further expands on this by Alan having several toys in his cave that do not belong to him but other "JUMANJI" players that did not survive at all or even left their world behind and became Manjis or Jamazons.

It has been suggested that "JUMANJI" may actually keep victims within its realm even for all eternity, evidently by the dilemma belonging to the individual who claimed to be the Master of Jumanji; who was really a brainwashed old man that was trapped for years longer than Alan and grew incredibly old and frail. Alan himself also had a deep paranoia that he would remain trapped in "JUMANJI" forever, even to the point of growing old and frail like the other man. He also had nightmares that Judy and Peter would still be playing the game to save Alan, even in their adulthood and parenthood.

In the video game version, "JUMANJI" retained the time altering powers of the board game. However, the video game's effect was different than the board game's. While the board game reversed time for Alan Parrish and Sarah Whittle to when they started playing in 1969 and relegated everything that happened to an alternate timeline that only they could remember, this was not so for the video game. Instead, the video game restored players to their original time periods but didn't completely rewrite history or the players' memories as seen with the teenagers' inability to recall Alex Vreeke's house being anything but the dilapidated ruin that they knew.


Many previous players of "JUMANJI" tried to get rid of it, ranging from burying it, burning it, and/or floating it down a river to sink at sea. But due to its magic, the game always managed to survive, waiting to be played yet again so it could use its dangerous, yet character-building power on those who need/want to "leave their world behind" the most.


  • According to author Chris Van Allsburg and film star Robin Williams; the name "JUMANJI" is the Zulu word for "many effects", which could account for its magic and ability to change forms. However, this appears to be incorrect, as there is no recorded instance of "JUMANJI" prior to the release of the book in the Zulu language. Therefore, it is likely that Allsburg and Williams were simply mistaken.
  • Conceptual art for the 1995 film’s logo reveals that a fifth token in the shape of a Lion idol was planned for the game, but ended up being unused in favour of a 1-4 player game. "JUMANJI" eventually ended up having up to five possible avatars when it transformed into a video game, albeit only four players could play.
    • More concept art has a Tiger being included in the "JUMANJI" zoology as one was part of the board game’s diorama painting design ideas, but Tigers ended up not appearing in the film yet were prominent in the animated series.
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