The Jungle Cruise is the next Disney ride that will get an update to remove racist undertones from its story and scenes
The last year has forced so much of American to reckon with our country’s systemic racism, including the microaggressions that occur day after day in places where you might not expect them. That includes Disney, who, after announcing last summer that they’d update their Splash Mountain ride to remove references to a racist film, just announced that another classic attraction is getting a modern update: The Jungle Cruise.
In a video announcement, Disney revealed plans to update the Jungle Cruise, which is 65 years old, to “reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.” The ride has long been criticized for its depictions of native tribes, and a big part of the update, the video revealed, will be removing tribal caricatures and “negative depictions of native people.” The update will also add new scenes and characters to the existing story of the ride.
“As Imagineers, it is our responsibility to ensure experiences we create and stories we share reflect the voices and perspectives of the world around us,” Carmen Smith, creative development and inclusion strategies executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “With Jungle Cruise, we’re bringing to life more of what people love – the humor and wit of our incredible skippers, while making needed updates.”
Smith also said Disney consulted several “cultural advisors” to make sure the updated ride is more inclusive.
Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger also made a short statement, on Twitter.
The exciting changes we’re making to one of @Disney’s most popular classic attractions, Jungle Cruise, reflect our commitment to creating unparalleled experiences that reflect, not only the best in storytelling, but also the values and rich diversity of our world. https://t.co/oy1fzKzgaI
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 25, 2021
“The exciting changes we’re making to one of Disney’s most popular classic attractions, Jungle Cruise, reflect our commitment to creating unparalleled experiences that reflect, not only the best in storytelling, but also the values and rich diversity of our world,” he wrote.
This might seem like convenient timing for Jungle Cruise to get an update, since a live-action movie based on the ride, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, is set to be released later this year. But Disney has been clear that the updated Jungle Cruise won’t tie in with any movie storylines or characters. Guess we’ll just have to be surprised on our first ride on the new and improved Jungle Cruise.
This news comes after last summer’s announcement that Splash Mountain will be completely remade to feature the story of The Princess and the Frog, Disney’s only movie with a Black princess. That move came after years of criticism that the parks featured a ride based on Song of the South, an extremely racist film that Disney keeps locked away in its vault.