The Jungle Cruise attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will get an overhaul to address its “negative depictions of ‘natives,’” elements that have been criticized for decades for being racist.
Both parks’ versions of the attraction will be updated with a new scene featuring a half-sunken Jungle Cruise boat overrun by chimpanzees, while also altering scenes where a rhino has chased a group of explorers up a tree and another depicting the “Trader Sam” character.
“It’s done in a way that celebrates diverse backgrounds and interests—that’s part of the rich storytelling, not something you poke fun at it,” Disney Imagineering creative portfolio executive Chris Beatty told Disney publication D23.
The overall ride experience will also be changed. Jungle Cruise skippers — the Disney cast members on every boat entertaining guests with bad puns and cornball humor — will remain, but will also be represented by an animatronic within the ride itself.
In a rare move for Disney, the attraction will not be altered to tie in with any Disney movie or TV show, even though a “Jungle Cruise” movie starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is due out later in 2021.
“I’m sure the film is fantastic and we’re very excited about it, but integrating the film into our classic Jungle Cruise is not part of this effort,” Beatty said. “Does that mean that as Imagineers we won’t put Easter eggs in there? We’ll definitely do that. But we are not adding a major storyline or character from that film.”
There’s no official timeline for the attraction’s closure or reopening, but both are expected to occur later this year.
According to Theme Park Insider, the Jungle Cruise attractions at Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland will not be altered, and no changes will be made to Jungle-Cruise bars and restaurants, like Trader Sam’s and Jungle Navigation Company Skipper Canteen.
The promotion of diversity and inclusion aligns with another recently-announced Disney overhaul: the transformation of Splash Mountain into a ride themed after “Princess and the Frog.” That announcement drew backlash from some diehard fans who felt it wasn’t racist (despite the basis for the ride, the film “Song of the South,” had been condemned by the NAACP upon is 1946 release) or falsely claiming that Walt Disney himself had conceived the attraction (he had actually died decades before Splash Mountain opened).
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