Disney's Jungle Cruise ride reopens Friday – without 'racist' features

Disney’s updated Jungle Cruise ride reopens this week without ‘racist’ tribal dancers and shrunken heads

  • Disneyland has announced it will reopen the Jungle Cruise ride on Friday, July 16
  • The iconic theme-park ride has been revamped after years of accusations its depictions of indigenous people are racist
  • Several  features have been removed including the tribal dancers, a party of spear-waving tribespeople, and a shrunken head trader 
  • The ride is reopening just as Disney’s new film ‘Jungle Cruise’ is set to be released this month but it will not integrate features from the new movie 

Disneyland has announced that the Jungle Cruise ride will reopen on Friday, July 16 after it was renovated to remove ‘racist’ depictions of indigenous people. 

The Jungle Cruise ride at Disney’s theme parks has long been criticized as racist but this January the company announced that it would give the ride a makeover to remove what the company called ‘negative depictions’ of some cultures.

Disney had said that the river boat attraction would be updated to ‘reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.’

The Jungle Cruise, which first opened in 1955, has been accused of having racist overtones in its depiction of some characters as savages and cannibals for decades. 

Disney announced that the popular Jungle Cruise attraction will reopen Friday, July 16

The ride has long been accused called out for its offensive portrayal of indigenous people

Back in January, Disney theme parks announced that it would remove its ‘negative depictions’ of indigenous people

Tribal dancers, a shrunken head trader and a group of spear-waving tribespeople have been removed from the attraction

The ride simulates a riverboat cruise along major rivers in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Guests float down on a replica 1930s steamboat with animatronics throughout the ride showing tourists hiding from animals and ‘a tribe of headhunters,’ according to Disney World’s previous description of the attraction. 

The company had promised to remove depictions of ‘natives’ that cast them as subservient or as savages. Some of the features that will not reappear are the tribal dancers, a party of spear-waving tribespeople, and a shrunken head trader.

The updated ride will include new scenes and a new story line, Disney had previously announced in a blog post. 

‘As part of this story update, we’ll get to follow a Skipper and his passengers as their journey goes awry,’ Imagineer Kevin Lively said in a Twitter video.

‘In fact, the expedition will be up a tree after their sunken boat splits apart and chimps board the wreckage, with monkey business ensuing.’

Although the reopening of the attraction is coinciding with the release of Disney’s new film ‘Jungle Cruise’ the ride will not contain references to the movie.  

Trader Sam’s gift shop is still included in the ride but the character previously seen holding two shrunken heads has been removed

The revamped ride will not contain references to the upcoming ‘Jungle Cruise’ movie

The ride continues to simulate a riverboat cruise along the major rivers in Asia, Africa, and South America

A group of monkeys have now taken over the Mekong Maiden 

‘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,’ Chris Beatty, an executive with Walt Disney Imagineering said in an interview.

‘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.’

The statement continued, ‘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.’ 

Disney’s Executive Chairman Bob Iger also tweeted about the ‘exciting’ changes following the announcement.

‘The exciting changes we’re making to one of Disney’s most popular classic attractions, Jungle Cruise, reflect our commitment to creating unparalleled experiences that reflect, not only the best in storytelling, but also the values and rich diversity of our world,’ he said.  

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