Following in step with changes announced last year for Splash Mountain, Disney announced today via the D23 official website that the JUNGLE CRUISE attraction at both Disneyland park and Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World will be getting enhancements.
Aside from updated show scenes, the attraction refresh will be integrated with a new continuous story that incorporates new characters. The changes will also create a consistent story on both coasts. While differences will remain, the new additions will unify both US versions.
Not shying away from the proverbial elephant in the room, Disney addresses outright that cultural insensitivity in the current attraction is absolutely part of the reason for the need to update the attraction. Part of the statement follows below:
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… 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. [In particular] we’re addressing the negative depictions of “natives.”
— Chris Beatty, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive
Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty shared several details exclusively with Disney D23 about what changes are coming. Below is a recap of the exciting tidbits that were shared!
What to Expect
A Blunt Rock
The number one question many Disney Parks fans will have is about how heavy the attraction will lean into the upcoming film. To quote Beatty, “integrating the film into our classic Jungle Cruise is not part of this effort.” That doesn’t mean Easter Eggs to the film won’t be spotted along the way but Beatty re-emphasized specifically: “We are not adding a major storyline or character from that film.”
You’re in DeNile
The Jungle Cruise skippers have always been the heart of the attraction and with the updates they’ll make an even bigger part of the story. Although the attraction is getting a narrative shift, a lot of the classic jokes that make the attraction such a fun and repeatable journey will remain.
A New Point In the End
The iconic rhinoceros scene is being imagined as the new starting off point for the story. The four explorers will be given more specific backstories and cultural heritage. A birdwatcher, an entomologist, a wildlife painter, a photographer and a new figure… a Jungle Cruise Skipper who has also been chased up the pole!
Another new element added to this scene is a breached Jungle Cruise boat (we’re looking at you, Magic Kingdom) sitting along the shore that has since been overtaken by a family of chimpanzees — an animal breed that will be new to the attraction!
In Jungle Cruise fashion there are visual gags galore. One chimp wears the skipper’s hat and is on the microphone; the mother chimp has opened up all the maps; a little chimp has gotten into the wildlife painter’s supplies; pure chaos has ensued!
Behind the Scenes
Every Disney effort is reliant on a large team of people to bring it to life. Below are some of the key Cast Members.
- Kevin Lively, who is a writer at Imagineering, is actually a former skipper and is the writer for our show.
- Carmen Smith, executive for Creative Development and Inclusive Strategies, and her team within Imagineering are responsible for ensuring the changes celebrate diversity and not poking fun at it.
- Dr. Mark Penning and his team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also being consulted to make sure the visual gags are done in an authentic way for the chimpanzees.
- Marc Davis original sketches remain a treasure trove of inspiration for the attraction.
See it for Yourself
An official closing date for the current Jungle Cruise or reopening date for the new Jungle Cruise has not yet been announced.