Disney has removed "racist" depictions of indigenous people from the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland theme park in Anaheim California. After being closed for more than a year, Disneyland finally reopened in April 30, 2021. During that time, Disney did much work in the park including bringing new upgrades to Jungle Cruise.
Many of these changes to the iconic Disneyland ride included removing tribal dancers, a group of spear-throwing tribespeople that "attack" the boat, and the Trader Sam character who appeared at the end of the ride selling shrunken heads. There is now the Trader Sam gift shop at the end of the ride, an empty stall showcasing products for sale. Other new additions include updated animatronics and a boat that has been taken over by a group of mischievous chimpanzees.
The new version of the ride will open on July 16th. Disney states these new changes will "reflect and value the diversity of the world around us."
Chris Beatty, Disney's Imagineering creative portfolio executive, said in a statement: "This is not a re-envisioning of the entire attraction. 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."
"We are constantly evaluating ways to enhance attractions and experiences in our parks. We want to make sure everybody has the best time - that guests from all over the world can connect with the stories we share and that how we bring those to life are respectful of the diverse world we live in."
Videos online showcase these new changes and it doesn't seem much has changed. The skippers continue to make the same jokes, the backside of water steals the spotlight, and the many highlights of Jungle Cruise continue to be in the ride. Similar changes will also be coming to the Jungle Cruise ride at Disney World's Magic Kingdom park in Florida.
These changes are not the first Disney Parks have made to address outdated depictions. In 2018, Disney Parks updated the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The famous bride auction scene was refurbished by changing the character Redd, who initially was being sold off, into a pirate who is selling rum. The audio was also changed to have the pirates no longer chant "We wants the redhead."
Disney also recently announced in June 2020 that changes would be coming to Splash Mountain. The popular attraction, featuring the song ""Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," will be rethemed to the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog. Splash Mountain has been under criticism for a while due to its connection to Song of the South. Song of the South is an incredibly controversial 1946 Disney film due to its racial stereotypes and problematic themes. It's so controversial that Disney has kept it completely hidden away in its vault, even keeping it off of the extensive library of Disney+.
The new ride will see guests joining Tiana, Naveen, and others in a musical journey set after the events of the film. There has still been no official confirmation for when these changes will be coming to Splash Mountain as the ride is still operating in its original format in both parks.
Disneyland guests can check out many of the changes on Jungle Cruise soon. These changes come right in time for the release of the Jungle Cruise film, starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. Jungle Cruise arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 30.