One of Disney’s original rides, the Jungle Cruise, is getting a makeover at Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. According to Disney, the updates to the attraction will better "reflect and value the diversity of the world around us."
The ride, which takes visitors on a "scenic and comedic boat tour of exotic rivers across Asia, Africa and South America," was criticized for its depictions of Indigenous people. The ride included animatronic Indigenous human characters depicted as headhunters and "savages."
Carmen Smith, creative development and inclusion strategies executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, said in a statement, "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. 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."
Disney spokesperson Michele Himmelberg said in a statement, "In this particular case, Imagineers created a storyline that builds upon what people love the most while addressing negative depictions simultaneously. Imagineers are addressing negative depictions of native people while adding a humorous storyline that follows the adventure of a Jungle Cruise skipper, his passengers and what has become of their boat and its contents. Guests will also find this group of adventurers to be diverse – in background and fields of interest."
This follows an announcement in June that Splash Mountain would be reimagined as a new attraction based on The Princess and the Frog. A fan petition asked that the ride be changed because “it’s history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South.”
There have also been calls on social media to re-theme or remodel other Disney theme park attractions such as Peter Pan's Flight, which, like the 1953 movie, and the book the movie was adapted from, features what some have called “stereotypical and insensitive depictions of Native Americans.”
There have also been calls to renovate the Enchanted Tiki Room citing “ethnic stereotypes.” Most recently, some have called to remove former President Donald Trump from the Hall of Presidents.
The timeline for the Jungle Cruise update has not yet been released, though it will likely be this year as some of the Disney parks are still closed due to coronavirus restrictions.
Jungle Cruise is one of the original park rides and opened in 1955 at Disneyland. Disneyland has been closed since March due to California COVID restrictions. The Jungle Cruise is currently operating in Disney World, which reopened in July. A movie based on the ride starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, was expected to open in 2020, but was postponed due to coronavirus closures.