Disney Announces Planned Changes To Jungle Cruise Ride To Remove ‘Negative Depictions Of Native Peoples’
Walt Disney Company announced plans to revamp one of its oldest attractions, the “Jungle Cruise” due to concerns about racial stereotyping. The ride, at both Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida, will be reimagined to “stay true to the experience we know and love – more humor, wildlife and skipper heart – and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us,” according to the Disney Parks blog.
The ride takes visitors on a river safari through Africa, Asia and South America. It debuted at Disneyland in 1955 and is based on the company’s nature documentaries that were popular at the time. The ride opened at Magic Kingdom in 1971.
According to Kevin Lively, a Disney Imagineer and former Jungle Cruise Skipper, the story update follows a skipper and its passengers as “their journey goes awry.”
The changes will introduce a birdwatcher, an entomologist, a wildlife painter and a photographer as the passengers. These character will replace existing animatronic explorers on the iconic rhino pole scene. This scene has been criticized in the past because the white adventurer is at the top of the pole, while the natives are at the bottom.
Riders will also see a group of primates that have taken over the explorers’ boat.
“As Imagineers, it is our responsibility to ensure experiences we create and stories we share reflect the voices and perspectives of the world around us,” Carmen Smith, a creative development and inclusion strategies executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said in a statement. “With Jungle Cruise, we’re bringing to life more of what people love — the humor and wit of our incredible skippers — while making needed updates.”
Chris Beatty, creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said in a statement that the company focuses on ways to add the to experience when choosing to change attractions.
“The skipper of the jungle cruise bring humor to guests of all ages and we’re excited to be adding to that legacy – along with a new animated skipper feature – by celebrating their adventures and influence,” he said.
Beatty said the company wants riders to feel like the ride was “respectful of the diverse world we live in,” in an interview with D23.
“When you look at the Jungle Cruise, as it is today, there are just a couple of scenes that don’t do that and needed a refresh,” Beatty said. “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.”
Disney did not specify when the changes would be complete. Beatty said the planned changes are not tied to the Jungle Cruise movie that is set to premiere in July 2021.
This makeover announcement comes about six months after Disney said it wouldride. The log flume ride is based off Disney’s 1946 musical film Song of the South, which has been criticized for having racist portrayals of former slaves after the Civil War. The new attraction will highlight Disney’s film The Princess and the Frog.