Walt Disney Imagineering announced today that Disney plans on updating the Jungle Cruise. With these new additions they want to add “more humor, wildlife and skipper heart. and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.”
For the first time, the Jungle Cruise will have a continuous story to go along with updated scenes
D23 sat down with Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty to get all the details on everything coming to the Nile…
The Jungle Cruise has evolved over the years—maybe more than any Disney Parks attraction.
I think the Jungle Cruise everybody remembers now is the Marc Davis version, which has a little, well, a lotmore humor when the skippers really get going. That attraction is really all about the skippers, if you think about it. They bring that attraction to life; they are the heart and soul of it. So you couple that with Marc Davis’s renderings and the characters he brought to life along the river’s edge, and it’s really just a win-win. That’s what gives the attraction its DNA. It’s what makes it a classic in so many ways. And you’re right: over the years, it has changed. Think about the piranhas we added at Disneyland into the Amazon or the exploding barrels as you enter Africa. We’ve added some really great moments that bring new magic to that attraction through the years. So we’re excited about this update—bringing new magic to our guests and giving it a fresh take.
Can you talk about why you decided to make these new updates?
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. And when they get off the attraction, they know that we have done our homework because these are the details that matter. When you look at the Jungle Cruise, as it is today, there are just a couple of scenes that don’t do that and needed a refresh. But I want to make sure people know we are not changing the whole Jungle Cruise. 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.” So that’s one of the scenes we’re going to go in and change.
So let’s talk about some of these changes…
We want to make sure that we take this as an opportunity, right? So as we look to clean up a lot of the challenges that we have in the attraction, we want to make sure we go in and add all the humor that Marc Davis gave it, all those years ago. Anything new we add will be in that tone. And for the first time, we are actually linking scenes together.
So if you think of the famous rhino pole scene, with the team of explorers who have somehow camped that night and then been run up the pole by the rhino and a group of other animals… that will really kick off the storyline. Did you ever wonder who those explorers were or where they came from? What’s their backstory? As part of the enhanced storyline, each one of them will have their own story and cultural heritage. 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.
And you may ask yourself, Wait, what happened to their boat? And we find out that the front of the boat has been beached upon these rocks. We wanted to put something here that feels like Marc Davis had a hand in it, that has a bit of humor in it. And we wanted the animals to have the last laugh. So you’ll see that the family of chimpanzees has moved in. And we don’t currently have chimps on this attraction—all of these amazing animals have been brought to life through the years on the Jungle Cruise and yet we’ve never had chimpanzees. The family of chimpanzees jumps on the wreckage of the boat and they are almost making fun of us. One is wearing the skipper’s hat and is on the microphone. The mother chimp has opened up all the maps and it looks like she’s reading them. A little chimp has gotten into the wildlife painter’s supplies and has made a mess with paint everywhere. It’s the animals really getting the last laugh in this cute scene—these silly explorers really came in and invaded their world.
Disney has not said anything about a timeline of when the changes will be completed, but has indicated that it will be coming “later this year.”