Disney is to overhaul its Jungle Cruise theme park attraction to remove what it describes as “negative depictions of native peoples” and to “reflect and value the diversity of the world around us”.
The changes were outlined in a blogpost on its Disney Parks website, which included concept art for the redesigned attraction, a simulated riverboat ride originally developed for Disneyland when it opened in California in 1955. It has since been replicated in Disney theme parks in Florida, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
In a statement quoted by USA Today, Disney added that its designers “are addressing negative depictions of native people while adding a humorous storyline … this group of adventurers [will] be diverse – in background and fields of interest”.
Partly inspired by the 1951 film The African Queen, Jungle Cruise has long been a target of criticism for its inclusion of caricatures of indigenous people as well as a character, Trader Sam, who offers “heads” for sale. A post by design group Thinkwell calls elements of the attraction “horrifyingly racist”.
Disney’s redesign of the Jungle Cruise follows its decision, announced in June 2020, to rework its Splash Mountain attraction. Originally inspired by the now repudiated 1946 film Song of the South, Splash Mountain is being modelled on its 2009 animation, The Princess and the Frog, the first to contain an African American princess.
A film version of Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, has had its release delayed until July 2021.