Jungle Cruise was one of the opening attractions when Disneyland debuted in 1955, and has since opened subsequent versions at Florida’s Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland. But over the years, Jungle Cruise has been criticized for its animatronic indigenous people which are represented as savages. Now, the Jungle Cruise in Disneyland and Disney World are both receiving remodels to change these negative connotations.
Jungle Cruise is just one of the few Disney rides that have received refurbishments to erase stereotypes in recent years. Three years ago, Pirates of the Caribbean was updated to get rid of a “Bride Auction” scene, in which women were shown being sold. Last year, Disney also announced that Splash Mountain, which is based on the 1946 movie Song of the South, would be changing the ride to a The Princess and the Frog theme.
The Jungle Cruise simulates a riverboat cruise, where the guests can see various animatronic animals, and receive comedic narration from the boat’s skipper. The ride has received several changes over its 65-year history, including changing and removing various animatronics, taking pistols away from skippers which were shot during the ride, and a holiday season overlay called the “Jingle Cruise.”
Disney has already shown off concept art for what to expect from the updated Jungle Cruise. One piece of art shows a bunch of explorers climbing up a tree to escape from a rhino and a hyena. Another new part of the attraction shows a group of monkeys that have taken over an abandoned Jungle Cruise boat. Disney has said they will be revealing more details about the ride’s enhancements, and that they should be introduced later this year. It’s unclear if or when Disney will close the Disney World ride for these changes.
While many worried that these new refurbishments might include new addition that ties into the new Jungle Cruise movie, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Dwayne Johnson has talked in the past about being part of a refurbishment for the ride, however, it looks as though any additions that could reference the new film have not been added. Jungle Cruise is currently scheduled for a July 30, 2021 release, and if the film is a success, it seems likely the ride could receive another update, much like how Pirates of the Caribbean was updated to include Captain Jack Sparrow.
Supposedly, according to the Disney Dish Podcast host Jim Hill, Disney has a list of rides that they are hoping to update to modern sensibilities over the next few years. While Splash Mountain was probably the biggest of these, Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean have been discussed for years before they received their updates. It’s unclear what other rides Disney has on their mind to change in the near future.
But if Disney wants to be a place of inclusivity and represent the different cultures within our world, changing rides like Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain is a good way to do that. Disney knows how to update their rides while keeping the spirit of those rides intact, and this Jungle Cruise update looks like it could make the ride even better.