Disneyland unveils revamped, racism-free Jungle Cruise ride ahead of movie release

Disneyland's revamped Jungle Cruise officially reopens July 16. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)
Disneyland's revamped Jungle Cruise officially reopens July 16. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

One of Disneyland's original rides will look a lot different when many of us return to the park following the pandemic.

The Jungle Cruise will officially reopen on July 16, with some changes, the park announced Friday. The ride, which takes passengers through Asia, Africa and South America, had been closed since the park itself reopened April 30, after being shutdown because the pandemic.

The company had announced in January that it would remove "negative depictions" of native people and pledged to make further changes to "reflect and value the diversity of the world around us."

The ride, which originally opened in 1955, has been criticized, for example, for depicting the locals as headhunters. In another scenario, a group of indigenous porters, trapped on a pole by a rhino, feature exaggerated, stereotypical features.

"We're excited to be building on the story of the Jungle Cruise to include new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love, while adding more humor, more wildlife, and an interconnected story," Chris Beatty, an Imagineer who worked on the renovations, said in a news release. "As part of creative development, we've also introduced characters from around the world and took a thoughtful approach to ensure accurate representation of cultures in our story."

Beatty explained in behind-the-scenes video of the upgrade that one of the team's goals was to "bring a sense of inclusivity" to the project. "We want to make sure that everyone that rides the Jungle Cruise can see themselves in the characters and in this experience."

They also wanted to keep it classic and to highlight the "skippers," the Disney cast members who make jokes while leading the faux tour of the area.

As part of the new storyline, chimpanzees have taken over a wrecked boat and the tourists have climbed up a tree in search of safety.

The new look debuts just ahead of the July 30 opening of the big-budget, live-action Jungle Cruise movie, which stars Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson, Emily Blunt and Edgar Ramirez. However, Disney officials told Reuters that the changes were not connected to the film.

Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt star in "Jungle Cruise." (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy of Everett Collection)

Visitors will see similar changes at Walt Disney World in Florida later this summer.

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