Disney Wants Everyone To Feel Respected and Authentic In the New Jungle Cruise–Even the Chimpanzees.

Jungle Cruise Kongo Kate Boat with Chimpanzees inside

File this under, okay now you lost me. Disney has recently announced their updates for The Jungle Cruise attraction. So far they’ve revealed that the story will become more important and be about another cruise group who’s boat ran aground and their mishaps with their Skipper.

Okay. So far so good. The pole now has women on it and there are now diverse people chased up the pole too. But how else could Disney make sure to respect everyone, represent diverse cultures and even chimpanzee culture? We have the answers according to a recent article in D23.

Apparently Jeffery Epstein (no, not that one) sat down with Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty to discuss the changes coming to the attraction.

Mr. Beatty talked about  how they periodically update and look at ways to enhance experiences at the parks so “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.”

That’s understandable and I think most people aren’t too upset about being respectful to various cultures.

Beatty does stress that they aren’t changing the entire attraction, just a couple of scenes.  But from what they’ve shown I don’t think we’ve seen all the changes we are going to see and he says as much:

…. 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.”

Can we take bets on Trader Sam too?

It isn’t just funny Skipper jokes now:

With the new version each person on the expedition will have an “enhanced storyline” with “their own story and cultural heritage.

They know it’s only a relatively short ride right?

The jokes were mostly told by the Skippers. We didn’t need to know the backstory of each guy on the pole and where he’s from, what their job is, if he likes long walks on the beach, etc.

With the new version we will have the following characters: a birdwatcher, an entomologist, a wildlife painter, and a photographer. “..each one will have a different reason for being on the expedition.” Seems like it’s getting a big bogged down.

But wait there’s more.

I love when the Disney writer asks the Disney Imagineer questions like this one:

I feel like there is sometimes, perhaps, misplaced concern that when an attraction is reimagined that it is somehow not going to be as great as it was before. How do you address that?”

Right. The fans that might question changes with their “misplaced concern.”  Wow!

The answer was basically:

  1. The Skippers will keep it fun
  2. We have a diverse team looking to fix diversity issues
  3. We respect animal culture and are making that authentic too.

Wait, what?

That’s right folks. Disney is making sure they are being culturally sensitive, which is fair and makes sense, but they are making sure they are doing the same for the animatronic animals as well.

When introducing new elements—even animals—we make sure they’re done in a respectful way. We reached out to Dr. Mark Penning and his team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and said, “Look, we have these chimpanzees that are coming into this new world and we want to have fun with them. How do we make sure it’s done in an authentic way for the chimpanzees?” We want to have fun, but we’re not making fun of the animals. His team had great insights and it really elevated that new scene.

Yes. Because the whole point of the ride is not not make fun of anything…..oh wait.

Have you ridden the attraction?

Plus, “not making fun of the animals” what? Are the Chimpanzee going to hop on the boat and tell you to stop being a Chimpaphobe?

I can’t wait to see the LA Times headline for this one.

(I’m trying to write this but I’m laughing so hard it’s making it difficult. Every time I re-read that I start laughing again.)

Okay back to the topic.

As far as adding IP from the upcoming film the answer is “no” and “yes” at the same time.

No it’s not going to focus on the film in the redo, but Yes they are going to put film “Easter Eggs” in it, because of course they were.

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.

Maybe they learned from adding Johnny Depp to “Pirates of the Caribbean” and don’t want to be in a position where they might have to change course and remove them? So we aren’t getting a Dwayne Johnson or Emily Blunt animatronic figure. Honestly, with all these character backstories going on now it’s probably for the best.

Will Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s attraction remain different?

Both coasts will now have the exact same Jungle Cruise attraction. They were different but now they will be the same. So at least one Trader Sam is getting changed for sure.

All joking aside, I’m fine with changes as long as the attraction still feels authentic. I was not worried about the changes we’ve seen. I’m more concerned about the amount of backstory they want to add.

The Jungle Cruise was fun because it was lighthearted and funny. From the queue to the Skippers, it was just meant to make you laugh. But now we are discussing how to not make fun of the Chimpanzees, and cultural backstories for new characters, and I’m starting to feel a tad bit concerned.

Hopefully my fear is just silly and “misplaced” like they said. I still will likely make fun of the chimpanzees though.

What do you think? Comment and let us know.

Source: D23

Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.