Disney Is Updating Controversial Jungle Cruise Ride to Reflect "Rich Diversity of Our World"

Disney is overhauling the Jungle Cruise ride, which some have deemed racially insensitive, to "reflect and value the diversity of the world around us."

By Allison Crist Jan 26, 2021 12:46 AMTags
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The Jungle Cruise, one of Disney's most notorious theme park attractions, is getting a major revamp.

Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California will both be affected by the changes, which aim to "reflect and value the diversity of the world around us," Disney said on Monday, Jan. 25 in an announcement that comes after complaints that the ride, originally built in 1955, is racially insensitive.

In a video posted to the official Disney Parks Blog, Imagineer Kevin Lively described some of the updates to come—including tweaks to the storyline—but Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty outlined the specific push for diversity in an interview with D23

"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,'" Beatty said. "So that's one of the scenes we're going to go in and change."

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The skippers will indeed remain an important part of the ride, and for the first time ever, the skipper role will "not only be that of a live, experienced and witty guide, but also represented by a show figure within the attraction itself." 

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For those unfamiliar with the original (and current) ride, Disney World's official description describes it as "a scenic and comedic boat tour of exotic rivers across Asia, Africa and South America."

However, according to IGN, the cruise includes animatronic human characters depicting some native populations as "headhunters," in addition to "insensitive period language (the ride is set during the 1930s) from white characters who refer to the indigenous characters as 'savages.'"

Complaints about these depictions aren't exactly new, but the ride faced widespread criticism last summer after Disney announced that Splash Mountain would be changed into a Princess and the Frog attraction—a decision that came amid outcry over its ties to the controversial 1946 film Song of the South. 

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Disney has yet to announce when the Jungle Cruise overhaul will begin, but the Parks blog did tell fans to stay tuned for the enhancements "coming later this year." 

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