HUGE news has just been released regarding the Jungle Cruise attraction in both Disney World and Disneyland.
Disney will officially be “building on the story” of the attraction on both coasts.
Disney has shared on Disney Parks Blog as well as in an exclusive D23 interview with Imagineer, Chris Beatty, that the ride will soon include “new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love – more humor, wildlife and skipper heart – and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.” Through these changes, The Jungle Cruise will get its “first continuous story, fantastic updated scenes, colorful new characters, and more.”
In the D23 interview, Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty shared a peek at the new storyline. Beatty said the new storyline really kicks off with that famous rhino pole scene. Beatty shared, “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.”
According to Beatty, the characters climbing up that pole include “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.”
One of the things that is being added to the scene is an “animatronic skipper, who’s been chased up the pole by the rhino, along with the other explorers.” That’s right! For the first time ever, the Jungle Cruise skipper won’t just be represented by your lively guide. The skipper will also be featured within the attraction.
Beatty noted, “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.”
Wondering what happened to the team of explorers’ boat? Well, according to the new storyline, the front of the boat has been beached upon some rocks, and a family of chimpanzees has moved in. Beatty shares that the “chimpanzees are almost making fun of us.”
One chimp will be wearing a skipper’s hat and holding the microphone. The mother chimp is looking at a map, and the little chimp has gotten into the painter’s supplies and made quite the mess. Beatty shares that “It’s the animals really getting the last laugh in this cute scene—these silly explorers really came in and invaded their world.”
You can see more of the description of this new storyline from Kevin Lively, a Disney Imagineer and former Skipper, below.
Want even more info? Check out the video below. It features Imagineer Kevin Lively discussing some of the changes coming to the attraction’s storyline. Lively is a writer at Imagineering who is working on these changes to the Jungle Cruise and he is actually a former skipper!
In an interview, Beatty was asked why Disney decided to make these changes. In response Beatty noted that they are “constantly evaluating ways to enhance attractions and experiences in our parks.” He noted that Disney wants 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.” Beatty said, “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, Beatty also said it was important for guests to know that they are NOT changing the whole Jungle Cruise. According to Beatty, “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.”
Beatty shared that they are really doing their homework to make sure this attraction doesn’t lose its magic. The team is leaning into its skippers to ensure that they feel they have some ownership in this. Disney has also brought together a diverse project team to make sure that anything that is culturally significant is done in the proper light. Dr. Mark Penning from Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also involved to make sure that new elements, including the animals, are portrayed in a respectful way.
Beatty noted that they’ve also gone back to the source material — original sketches from Marc Davis for the attraction — and looked at what makes the scenes funny, and what makes the attraction work.
According to Disney, Imagineers will be inviting current Jungle Cruise skippers from both Disney World and Disneyland to hear more about the new adventures and wonders coming the attraction. Some skippers have already been invited to hear about these upcoming changes. According to Beatty, in their feedback, the skippers said that the new storyline “feels like classic Jungle Cruise, like something that has always been there.”
Beatty has noted that classic jokes that fans know and love — like the backside of water — will be kept. But, skippers will have some new material to play off of.
Beatty also confirmed that the changes coming to the ride are focused on “enhancing the existing attraction storyline and addressing some areas that needed refreshing along the way.” The new Jungle Cruise film opening later this year will not be integrated into the attraction as part of this effort. Will they be putting Easter Eggs in the attraction? Beatty said they’d definitely do that, but they’re not adding a major storyline or character from the movie into the ride.
If you’re wondering whether things will be different in Disneyland vs. Disney World, Beatty has noted that they will be telling the same story on both coasts. The scenes they’ll be adjusting in the ride will be the same.
In terms of a timeframe, Beatty said the team is working hard to try to get everything in this year. At this time, a date for when the attraction will close in Disney World has not been shared.
We will continue to update this post and will share more details as they are released.
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