Disney Parks announced yesterday that new scenes were going to be added to the Jungle Cruise attraction. The changes are planned to come to the ride in both Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort.
New scenes focusing on a story of a crashed Skipper boat will be added to the attraction. Some scenes are being reworked to be more “respectful of the diverse world we live in” according to Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty. He goes on to say: “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.'”
As the company points out, this will not be the first time additional scenes have been added, or changes have been made to the attraction. Even the attraction itself was initially designed as a “serious” boat ride featuring real animals. The humor was added later, and eventually solidified by humorous vignettes designed by Disney Legend Marc Davis.
The famous rhino pole scene will be updated to enhance to the storyline, giving each of the characters atop the pole their own story. Beatty says: “There’s a birdwatcher, an entomologist, a wildlife painter, and a photographer, and each one will have a different reason for being on the expedition. And, of course, they did one of the things you’re never supposed to do, which is leave the boat.”
And one of the things we’re adding to the attraction is an animatronic skipper, who’s been chased up the pole by the rhino, along with the other explorers. They each have great personality, and I think our guests will connect with these characters in new ways. So we’re not really re-envisioning that scene, we’re just adding a narrative and storytelling to bring things to life and connect that moment with other happenings along the river.
Another new scene will show us what happened to the boat before these unlucky passengers found themselves up a pole. The boat, which will be modeled to look much like the boat you’re traveling in yourself, was taken over by a family of chimpanzees. That’s an animal that has yet to be represented on the attraction.
In an interview for D23, Chris Beatty explained how they worked with experts to ensure the update was being designed in a respectful way that celebrates diverse backgrounds:
Second was to bring together a diverse project team. We wanted to make sure that any changes we made from a relevancy standpoint were done right. So we’ve been working with Carmen Smith [executive for Creative Development and Inclusive Strategies] and her team within Imagineering to make sure that any time we show something culturally significant, that is done in the proper light. It’s done in a way that celebrates diverse backgrounds and interests—that’s part of the rich storytelling, not something you poke fun at it.
According to Disney, the Skippers will not be removed from the attraction. And in the short video presentation, below, we got to see some of their first reactions. Beatty points out that there will be new material to play off of, which is exciting for the Skippers, but that classic jokes like the backside of water, will remain.
And when asked about whether or not elements from the upcoming Jungle Book film starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt would be added, Beatty said they are not adding a major storyline or character from the film, but that doesn’t mean Imagineers won’t put Easter eggs on the ride.
A timetable for the refresh has not yet been announced, but they’re hoping to get it done this year according to Beatty. Stay tuned to the site for more details and updates for the Magic Kingdom version as they happen.