Just in time for Disneyland’s 66th Birthday, one of the park’s oldest attractions, Jungle Cruise is reopening with new adventures, an expanded storyline and more humor as skippers take guests on a tongue-in-cheek journey along some of the most remote rivers around the world. It also makes sense since in just a few weeks, the movie based on the ride will be entering theaters as well. Changes are being made in Florida’s version of the ride as well at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort which will be completed later this summer.
“We’re excited to be building on the story of the Jungle Cruise to include new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love, while adding more humor, more wildlife, and an interconnected story,” said Chris Beatty, an Imagineer who led creative development of the enhancements. “As part of creative development, we’ve also introduced characters from around the world and took a thoughtful approach to ensure accurate representation of cultures in our story.”
That’s one way to put it. The Jungle Cruise, which opened the same day that Disneyland on July 17, 1955, has had a few facelifts over the years including changing the course of the river itself and additions like the iconic elephant bathing pool, gorillas in the safari camp and a newer piranha scene. But one thing has changed until recently – negative depictions of Indigenous people. Up until recently, both parks continued to show tribal headhunters and a shrunken head salesman with jokes that became more uncomfortable each year.
Trader Sam is no longer selling shrunken head but instead has opened a “gift shop” that appears to be all of the items left behind from former Jungle Cruise tourists. Another scene shows a group of explorers from around the world being chased up a tree by a rhino. And there are more comedy bits featuring jungle animals running amuck.
(Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)
In the beginning, Jungle Cruise was meant to be a much more serious tour along four rivers: the Nile of Africa, the Amazon of South America, the Irrawaddy of Southeast Asia and the Ganges of India. Though, it didn’t take long before the skippers of the boats began to tweak their own narrations of the ride and soon Disney approved a more comedic version. The new 2021 version continues the tradition with more jokes and a new storyline centering on Alberta Falls, the the granddaughter of the world-renowned Dr. Albert Falls, who is now proprietor of the Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. One of the new scenes added includes a group of chimpanzees taking over a wrecked boat. Unlike the the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which added Captain Jack Sparrow after the character was featured in the Pirates movies, this new update will not feature Dwayne Johnson’s Frank Wolf character from the upcoming movie. At least, not right now.
In celebration of the new daily expeditions, Disneyland’s food service counter, The Tropical Hideaway, has prepared a new Pineapple Split! Starting today and while supplies last, it will be served in a souvenir container that looks like a Jungle Cruise boat with a red-and-white striped canopy. This “pineapple split” comes with DOLE Whip®, blueberries, strawberries and Mandarin oranges, topped with coconut-caramel sauce, crushed plantains, dried hibiscus and toasted coconut.
Main Image: Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.