Disney has just announced that they will be making some major changes to the classic Jungle Cruise attraction at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park. In an interview with the D23 Fan Club, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty talked about the upcoming changes.
First is the why. In the interview, Beatty talks about how the Jungle Cruise has changed over the years in tone. It started out as a serious river cruise that eventually evolved into a comedic attraction thanks to the Skippers who make it what it is today. Disney said that the Jungle Cruise has “evolved over the years – maybe more than any Disney Parks attraction”.
Back in September 2020, Disney announced that they would be adding a fifth “key” to their iconic Four Keys Cast Member training. The new key would be the “inclusion” key and focus on making sure that people from every nation, race/ethnicity, belief, gender, sexual identity, disability and culture feel respected and valued. As part of that initiative, Disney announced the reimagining of Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog-themed attraction. Disney Parks President Josh D’Amaro promised more changes to come, and the announcement of a rewrite of Jungle Cruise is part of the “inclusion initiative” at The Walt Disney Company.
Beatty went on to talk about the “why” of changing Jungle Cruise:
We are constantly evaluating ways to enhance attractions and experiences in our parks. We want to make sure everybody has the best time—that guests from all over the world can connect with the stories we share and that how we bring those to life are respectful of the diverse world we live in. And when they get off the attraction, they know that we have done our homework because these are the details that matter.
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. 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. 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.
Back in 2017, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said that he was working with Walt Disney Imagineering to “re-engineer and re-design the Jungle Cruise ride in all Disney theme parks around the world” as part of the upcoming Jungle Cruise movie. Naturally, we wondered if a statement made back in 2017 would have any bearing on the 2021 redo of the attraction. As it turns out, this rewrite of the attraction were due to the inclusion initiative at the theme parks and not part of the movie. Beatty explains:
I’m excited about the movie, and having Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt be a part of that film. But these adjustments are really focused on enhancing the existing attraction storyline and addressing some areas that needed refreshing along the way. 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.
Finally, the question on timing comes into play. When will Disney make the changes to the Jungle Cruise and when will guests be able to see the new attraction? As it turns out, this project will be a quicker turn around than the ambitious Splash Mountain retheme. Here’s what Beatty had to say when asked about the timeline for the enhancements:
We haven’t announced a date yet. We’re working hard to make sure we can get everything in this year.
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