Disney has announced that it will be making significant changes to Jungle Cruise, one of its oldest rides, due to offensive depictions of indigenous people.
Jungle Cruise is one of the few remaining rides from Disneyland’s original opening in 1955 and has since expanded to Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland (though the attraction will reportedly only be updated in Disneyland and Disney World). The ride is meant to simulate a boat cruise down several major rivers in Africa, Asia, and South America and was inspired by several real-life nature documentaries.
Despite the ride’s enduring popularity, it has long been criticized for its racist depictions of native people and Disney will now be making several changes to address those criticisms. The Jungle Cruise will no longer feature Trader Sam, a dark-skinned man dressed in stereotypical “tribal wear” who offers to trade “two of his heads for one of yours,” as well as updating a rhinoceros scene that shows several “native safari guides” at the bottom of a tree trunk with a white traveler at the top. The ride will also be adding a scene of a group of monkeys on a sinking cruise boat.
In an interview with D23, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty said that the Jungle Cruise will remain the same ride people know and love but updated to remove offensive stereotypes of several native cultures.
“This is not a re-envisioning of the entire attraction,” Beatty said. “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.'”
This is not the first time that Disney has made changes to attraction due to public scrutiny, including Splash Mountain, which was based on the racist 1946 Disney film Song of the South, being refashioned to become a Princess and the Frog themed ride.