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SYFY WIRE Jungle Cruise

Disney’s Jungle Cruise attraction gets new story to better represent world's 'value and diversity'

By Vanessa Armstrong
Disney's Jungle Cruise attraction

The Jungle Cruise is an opening-day Disneyland attraction that has been beloved by guests since 1955. A lot has changed in the world since the '50s, however, and the classic attraction has changed with it, most notably by becoming a humorous excursion through a jungle where your skipper, a Disney Cast Member, regales you with jokes while you float by hilarious scenes created by Disney Legend, Marc Davis.

Some of the scenes, however, haven’t kept up with the times, and Disney is looking to rectify that by updating the ride to, as the Disney Parks Blog explains, “better reflect the value and diversity of the world around us.”

What does that mean exactly? Chris Beatty, a Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive, got into the details in an interview with D23, the Official Disney Fan Club, noting that there are "just a couple of scenes" portrayed on the ride that don't reflect those values, and are in need of "a refresh.”  

“But I want to make sure people know we are not changing the whole Jungle Cruise. This is not a re-envisioning of the entire attraction," Beatty continued. "It’s the Jungle Cruise you know and love, with the skippers still leading the way, and at the same time, we’re addressing the negative depictions of ‘natives.’ So that’s one of the scenes we’re going to go in and change.”

The update isn’t just getting rid of negative aspects of the ride, however; it’s also incorporating a whole new storyline that ties the jungle scenes together and adds new scenes, such as a family of chimps moving into an abandoned boat. Kevin Lively, a former Skipper and the current Disney Imagineer who wrote the updates, explains the changes in the video below:

Of course, these updates happening around the same time that the eponymous movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt is coming out raises the question: Will there be lookalikes of the actors in the attraction?

The answer, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your automatonic point of view), is no: “These adjustments are really focused on enhancing the existing attraction storyline and addressing some areas that needed refreshing along the way,” Beatty explained. “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. 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.”

One thing the Imagineers want to make clear, however, is that — despite the changes — the Jungle Cruise theme park experience will keep everything that guests love. “I think it is always important to look at these classic attractions and make sure we don’t disrupt the DNA of what makes that attraction resonate with our guests,” Beatty said. “It’s important to us. I love these opportunities to make adjustments and bring in new magic. And we will continue to respect the magic that makes it exciting for all of our guests.”

Disney hasn’t shared a definitive timeline on when the changes will be completed, but Beatty said they hope to have the new story up and running sometime this year. The Jungle Cruise movie is currently scheduled to come out Jul. 30, 2021.