Prior to the release of the upcoming Disney movie Jungle Cruise, the folks at Disneyland have made some much-needed cultural updates to the ride that inspired the film. These changes were finally revealed this week when the ride re-opened for guests and showed off new tweaks to some of the iconic — and now condemned — scenes.
One of the changes involved the “trapped safari” scene, in which a white traveler was depicted at the top of a totem pole trying to avoid a rhinoceros while native guides were stranded towards the bottom. In addition, several “negative depictions of native people,” Disney says, were swapped out of more slapstick scenes that depicted various monkeys and chimps getting the best of some ill-prepared travelers on a jungle expedition.
According to a report by the LA Times, “these changes are part of a broader attempt by Disney and Imagineering to ensure Disneyland remains a vital part of the cultural conversation rather than a cultural artifact.” Carmen Smith, the executive of inclusion strategies for Imagineering, says Disney is “very mindful of the events that are happening around the world that impact people,” and wants to “make sure that everyone who comes to our parks is seen, and that they’re heard.”
The changes made to Jungle Cruise aren’t the first to come to Disney parks and are merely just one part of the company’s overarching goal to make their theme parks “the happiest place on Earth” for everyone. In 2017, Disneyland removed a bridal auction scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and altered one of the ride’s “wenches” to be a fellow pirate instead. Following the murder of George Floyd, Disney announced it would remove “Song of the South” from Splash Mountain, and instead feature music from “The Princess and the Frog,” the Disney film featuring the first Black princess, Tiana. Earlier this year, Disney announced that all Disney staff members would have more freedom in their workplace attire, including the ability to choose gender-inclusive costumes and hairstyles, as well as show off their body art. With all these changes in mind, it seems Disney is doing a pretty phenomenal job at growing with the culture rather while preserving what matters: creating a safe and fun place for all.
These changes come just a few weeks out from Jungle Cruise, Disney’s latest film based on a theme park ride. The film boasts an all-star cast featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Emily Blunt, Paul Giamatti, Jesse Plemons, and more as they undertake an “epic quest.” According to the film’s synopsis, Jungle Cruise follows Lily (Emily Blunt) as she seeks out an ancient tree with healing abilities, which will allow her to “change the future of medicine.”
“Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate—and mankind’s — hangs in the balance.”
Jungle Cruise hits theaters and theaters and Disney on July 30, 2021.