Jungle Cruise from Disneyland has sailed in the park’s Adventureland area continuously since 1955 and today stands as one of the remaining attractions on Opening Day overseen by Walt Disney himself.
But culture often moves faster than ancient mechanical hippos.
On Monday, The Walt Disney Company announced that it is embarking on what many consider to be a correction of a long-awaited path for Jungle Cruise. Several changes were planned to make the appeal more inclusive and less ethnically sensitive in its portrayal of other cultures.
The move comes after numerous updates to ancient attractions such as Splash Mountain and Pirates of the CaribbeanAll of this was done to remove outdated panels that can be embarrassing at best and racist at worst. The company already revealed this year that Splash Mountain, originally inspired by the creatures in the racist movie “Song of the South,” will Get a makeover titled “The Princess and the Frog” The movie in which Disney’s first black princess appeared.
Jungle Cruise, as one of the Disneyland Opening Day attractions portrayed by the park boss, will likely be viewed with a lens more protected by the company’s vast fan base. However, the journey was also one in almost continuous development since its inception. His early influence was inspired by Disney documentaries on nature and the 1951 movie “The African Queen”, and is a favorite of early Disneyland designer Harper Gove.
Its initial concept as “jungle rivers of the world” was a bit more educational than the idea that is based on humor today. The ride’s obnoxious tribal imagery, largely inspired by Papua New Guinea photos, was added in the years after its opening. These vignettes from Jungle Cruise mainly portray the natives either as tourist attractions, attackers, or cannibals.
“Horrific racism” was a description from a Disney peer in the theme park design community. This was how the various Jungle Cruise scenes featured in an article from the entertainment design firm Thinkwell Group that was published shortly after Disney announced the changes to Splash Mountain.
A spear-waving war party was added to Jungle Cruise in 1957, as was the character of “Trader Sam,” a dark-skinned man who today wears tribal straw clothing. Disney’s Tiki bars – one on each coast – are named for the character who trades in stereotypes. He’ll exchange you with “two heads on your head.”
“As imaginers, it is our responsibility to ensure that the experiences we create and the stories we share reflect the voices and perspectives of the world around us,” Carmen Smith said in a statement provided by Disney. Smith is the executive director of creative development and inclusion strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering, the company’s division responsible for theme park experiences.
Conceptual art previewed by Disney showed a reworking of the “trapped safari” scene, in which adventurers gallop across a tree to avoid a rhinoceros horn. In its present state at Disneyland, the white traveler is at the top while the original safari guides are in a more dangerous position. The reimagined scene, initially dreamed of by Disney animator Mark Davis as an advertisement for the ride, only shows the unfortunate participants of a previous tour on a Jungle Cruise.
Disney stressed that the changes are being made independently of the future Based on Jungle Cruise Starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. “Expect all scenes featuring the obnoxious portrayals of the original characters to be updated,” a Disney spokesperson said, although details of possible alterations to the war party scene and Trader Sam’s finale have not been shared.
As ridiculous and full of words as Jungle Cruise, she has long been criticized for viewing adventure through an imperial lens. Non-Americans are portrayed as either vassals or savages. While the trip is supposed to be a collection of Asia, Africa and South America, the human characters in the regions are presented as bizarre, violent, and malicious, the humor of the 1950s and 1960s is disturbing and today smells of racism.
It’s also a view that conflicts with the broader cultural mission of Disney’s theme park, which over decades has transformed from cartooning and simplistic depictions of other cultures into a brand with a more global perspective. When Walt Disney World opened the Animal Kingdom in 1998, Africa and Asia emerged in a more respectful light, Which only served to augment Jungle Cruise’s old cultural imagery.
Disney expects changes to be completed this year at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Florida, where rides are currently open. The company adds that timelines may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since Disneyland has been in lockdown for nearly a year. Even as the governor of Newsom raises requests to stay home this week, Disneyland may remain closed for some time.
Upon completion, the cuteness story will be modified. Guests will follow the exploits of Jungle Cruise’s voyage that veered off and throughout the journey, glimpses of this past expedition. Expect, for example, seeing an old Jungle Cruise boat overtaken by monkeys, as new scenes are designed to add new life, activity and characters to the appeal, with more vulgar jokes stirred up from the ride’s tour guides.
“When we think about making changes to a classic attraction, we focus on ways to“ augment ”the experience, said Chris Beatty, Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Imagineering.“ The skipper at Jungle Cruise brings disrespectful sense of humor to guests of all ages, and we’re happy to add. To this legacy – along with a new animated captain character – by celebrating their adventures and impact. ”
While the trip has long been marked by nods to past trips that ended badly, Disney plans to add statues that represent other tourists and, as Betty points out, an untrained captain. This move would help fulfill Disney’s goal of removing tribal cartoons and, in Disney’s words, “negative indigenous images.”
“For the first time ever, the leader’s role will not only be that of a living, experienced and intelligent mentor, but also a show character within the same cuteness,” said Kevin Lively, story editor at Walt Disney Imagining.
For those who follow the Parks, the changes shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, especially with a movie starring Johnson and Blunt set for theatrical distribution. The Jungle Cruise, like many recent movies affected by the pandemic-related lockdown, has been postponed from its 2020 release date to one next summer.
However, it is worth noting that in this case, Disney does not wait to see how the audience responds to the image. Bear in mind that it is an indication that Disney recognizes that the cultural change of the ride is a more urgent necessity than marketing calendars might allow. Additionally, a Disney spokesperson said the new statues will not represent the characters in the movie.
None of the Jungle Cruise’s altered scenes were at the opening of Disneyland in July 1955, although this trip would look very different from today’s audience.
Animals at the time were rare – only seven hippos and eight crocodiles were in the water, according to documents for the park’s inaugural year – and the vast vegetation had not yet grown to hide the neighboring buildings. Many of the ride’s most beloved scenes, such as the elaborate elephant bathtub, were dreamed of by animator-turned-imaginative Davis and added in the 1960s.
Old-time attraction fans can expect to see some nods to retired boats in the new scenes, but the goal is a more inclusive excursion that multiplies the absurdity. Lively says, “In the end, the forest finally laughs.”