In a blog post, Disney explained that the Jungle Cruise story will be enhanced to “elevate the experience for all of our guests”.
The attraction will “stay true to the experience we know and love” whilst reflecting the diversity of the world.
Animated skipper added to the attraction
The role of the Skipper (the cast members who drive the boats in the attraction) will be expanded in this update. Kevin Lively, former Jungle Cruise Skipper and current Imagineer, explained that the story will “follow a skipper and his passengers as their journey goes awry”.
Guests will be able to see a figure of the skipper up a tree after their boat splits apart and chimps board it.
Scenes updated to “reflect … the world around us”
Some scenes in the Jungle Cruise will be updated, such as changing the “negative depictions of ‘natives’”, Beatty explained in an interview with D23.
This is not the first time the Jungle Cruise has been changed. Change is a tradition that Walt Disney himself encouraged.
For Carmen Smith, Executive Creative Development & Inclusion Strategies at WDI, being an Imagineer includes a “responsibility to ensure experiences we create and stories we share reflect the voices and perspectives of the world around us”.
The adventurers who have joined the skipper will all have their own backstory and cultural heritage. This will help guests from around the world to connect with the characters in new ways.
There is no official date for when this update will be complete.
Disney recently announced that Splash Mountain will be rethemed to Princess and the Frog.
Meanwhile, Disneyland has “sunsetted” its annual pass programme as the COVID-19 pandemic means the park remains closed.