Everything We Know About the New Jungle Cruise Retheme

in Disneyland, Disneyland Resort, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Jungle Cruise

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

The Disney Parks Blog announced some highly anticipated news this week: a Jungle Cruise retheme! “Casting off” from both east and west coasts, the theme park ride will be digging deeper into its own punny backstory with a less problematic depiction of specific characters.  With skippers continuing to lead the way, let’s take a look at the entire picture! Please… stay seated and remain in the boat.

jungle cruise
Credit: Disney

Jungle Cruise Retheme FAQ

Walt Disney started a tradition over 60 years ago at Disneyland Park with the World Famous Exotic Jungle Cruise. Continuing this tradition, Walt Disney Imagineering has a new creative concept for the river’s updates. The new journey will be original to WDI. Here’s a look at some of the “gnu” magic, as well as some answers to frequently asked questions.

Is the Ride Being Gutted?

No! The attractions at both Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom will remain intact, but there will be some changes and additions.

When Will Jungle Cruise Shut Down for Refurbishment?

While there is no official date for the closing of the attraction, the Disney Parks Blog tells us to, “check out the Walt Disney World Ambassador team on Instagram, @WDW.Ambassador, […] and stay tuned for more details about the enhancements in store for the Jungle Cruise, coming later this year.” The D23 article adds that they will be trying to get everything done by the end of “this year,” 2021.

Magic Kingdom Memories elephant
Credit: Disney

Why did Disney decide to make these new updates?

Disney reflects on the decisions that lead up to the Jungle Cruise project, saying:

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. 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. But I want to make sure people know we are not changing the whole Jungle Cruise. 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.” So that’s one of the scenes we’re going to go in and change. – D23

jungle cruise
Credit: Disney

Will the new Jungle Cruise Movie be Included in the New Theme?

To some small disappointment, but also some relief, the new film (coming Summer 2021) will not be integrated into the retheming of the Jungle Cruise attraction. When Dwyane Johnson announced via an April 2017 social media post that he would be involved in the reimagining of the ride, the news went mostly unnoticed. But fans eventually caught wind of the refurbishment, and now we have official confirmation that the ride will be undergoing updates and reimagined scenes… but without the supposed additions from the film. So don’t be looking for Emily Blunt or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the Adventureland shoreline!

Christ Beatty, Imagineer speaking to D23 about the project, said, “I’m sure the film is fantastic and we’re very excited about it, but integrating the film into our classic Jungle Cruise is not part of this effort. Does that mean that as Imagineers we won’t put Easter eggs in there? We’ll definitely do that. But we are not adding a major storyline or character from that film.”

Will the Skippers Still Lead the Way?

Yes! In fact, the Skippers have had such an enormous historical impact that the new threaded storyline will include an animated Skipper and his passengers.

Chris Beatty mentioned in the Disney Parks Blog, “When we consider making changes to a classic attraction, we focus on ways to ‘plus’ the experience. The Skippers of the Jungle Cruise bring humor to guests of all ages, and we’re excited to be adding to that legacy – along with a new animated Skipper figure – by celebrating their adventures and influence.”

Let’s hear it for our incredible beloved Skippers! Perhaps we should give them all honorary S.E.A. memberships?

Chris Beatty Imagineer Jungle Cruise
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Will There Still Be Funny Jokes?

“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.’ So that’s one of the scenes we’re going to go in and change.” said Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty.

He added more about the skippers getting new material to create jokes. “We’re keeping a lot of the classic jokes that the fans know and love, like the backside of water. But it will give our skipper some new material to play off of. So that’s exciting for them. They were really excited about having some new source material.”

We’re over the river and through the… jungle over this news. While Marc Davis’s original ride didn’t have the intense humor that the ride now does, the Skippers brought about such life and giggles into the attraction and that’s not going anywhere! Here’s to the backside of water!

jungle cruise
Credit: Disney

So, What’s the New Storyline?

Monkey business will still be afoot as we follow the story of a Jungle Cruise Skipper and his passengers along the journey that goes awry. Instead of the Skippers touring you about… there will be a thread of a new expedition that shows another animated Skipper along the way.

The expedition will eventually be up a tree (literally” after their sunken boat splits apart and chimps board the wreckage,” Kevin Lively tells us. Lively (the PERFECT name for a skipper…) initially served as a Skipper in Disneyland Park, and now has risen above the shoreline to become a writer for the Imagineering Department.  The JC never leaves you, he tells us. The adventure and humor are here to stay.

ken lively jungle cruise quote
Credit: Disney

Will the Attraction be the Same on Both Coasts?

The Jungle Cruise ride changes will be the same at both Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort. The Imagineers are aiming to tell a “cohesive story on both coasts.” While the attractions have had different flairs or nuances in the various parks, the adjusted scenes will (in the end) be the same.

trader sam jungle cruise disneyland
Trader Sam, 2019 Credit: S.E.A.

Will There Still be a Jingle Cruise?

Chris Beatty acknowledges his love for Jingle Cruise. “Jingle Cruise is great, and it probably was the first time we went in and from a narrative standpoint threaded a storyline through all the rivers.” We suspect that Jingle Cruise is here to stay, at least at Walt Disney World Resort, as it may have served as partial inspiration for a threaded storyline.

How do Disney Fans feel about the Jungle Cruise Retheme?

Some have compared the new sinking Chimpanzee boat to the real-life attraction boats sinking in 2020. If this isn’t self-deprecating humor, we’re not sure what is. Jungle Cruise has always (or for most of its life) been about tongue in cheek, punny jokes. So, this reflective joke on sinking boats totally works. Fans in general are breathing easy with the updates and eager to see what new jokes will surround the additions.

Many Disney fans (and press outlets) have been vocal in their approval of the cultural updates. Below is a tweet from both the LA Times and follower JJ:

Do other Imagineers and Cast Members Like the Changes?

Several Imagineers added quotes to the Disney Parks Blog post with their thoughts about the upcoming changes. Imagineer Carmen Smith diplomatically added, “As Imagineers, it is our responsibility to ensure experiences we create and stories we share reflect the voices and perspectives of the world around us. With Jungle Cruise, we’re bringing to life more of what people love – the humor and wit of our incredible skippers, while making needed updates.”

Carmen Smith Imagineer Jungle Cruise
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Likewise, Kim Irvine, who serves as Executive Creative Director for Walt Disney Imagineering, said, “The Jungle Cruise has changed course many times over the years – always with the idea that the adventures along the river change from day-to-day. I’m fortunate to be part of the Jungle Cruise team that is carrying forward a Disney tradition of change and enhancement that was encouraged by Walt Disney.”

Kim Irvine Imagineer Jungle Cruise
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

How Does Bob Iger Feel About the Jungle Cruise retheme?

Bob Iger, now a board member for The Walt Disney Company, took to his Twitter account to weigh in on the changes awaiting the opening day ride. In an approving tone, Bob said, “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.” It’s safe to say that Bob is  ON BOARD with the updates, and we are, too!

boa jungle cruise imagineers
Credit: D23

Need more information on the World Famous Exotic Jungle Cruise? Explore our comprehensive guide to the ride’s history, evolution, and modern-day vacationing tips. Between that classic guide and this modern-day tip sheet, we think you’ll be ready for whatever the adventures of the world throw at you. Just watch out for that boa… he’s full of constricting information. 

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