Disney Is Making Changes to Jungle Cruise Rides Due to 'Negative Depictions' of Native Peoples
The ride has been criticized for scenes characterizing native peoples as violent
Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida are making long-awaited changes to their Jungle Cruise attractions as an initiative to address the "negative depictions" of native peoples throughout the attraction.
"Imagineers are constantly looking for opportunities to enhance experiences, and when it comes to updating classic attractions, they employ a very careful and thoughtful approach," Disney said in a statement on Monday. "In this particular case, Imagineers created a storyline that builds upon what people love the most while addressing negative depictions simultaneously."
The ride follows the captain of a ship, called a skipper, who gives tours along rivers in Asia, Africa, and South America that sometimes go awry. Some of the cultural insensitive features included natives being depicted as tourist attractions or having them shown as violent.
"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," Executive, Creative Development & Inclusion Strategist for Walt Disney Imagineering, Carmen Smith, said in a statement on Disney Parks blog.
The new attraction will have more diverse tourists portrayed as well as animation of the skipper rather than just the live Disney tour guide acting in that role.
"When we consider making changes to a classic attraction, we focus on ways to 'plus' the experience," Chris Beatty, creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, said. "The skippers of the Jungle Cruise bring irreverent humor to guests of all ages, and we're excited to be adding to that legacy — along with a new animated skipper figure — by celebrating their adventures and influence."
"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," Kevin Lively, a story editor with Walt Disney Imagineering, added.
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Currently, there is no set timeline of when the changes will be implemented due to COVID-19 and the continued closing of Disneyland.
The changes to Jungle Cruise follow in the footsteps of Splash Mountain, which is being redesigned to depict scenes from The Princess and the Frog rather than the problematic 1946 film Song of the South that is not available on Disney+.