One of the original Disneyland attractions from opening day in 1955 has gotten a brand-new revamp, with an expanded storyline, new characters and Easter eggs galore in the queue, and Collider, along with a handful of select outlets, snagged an invite to be one of the first guests to ride the newly redesigned Jungle Cruise. Officially open to guests on July 16th, meaning that there are still some finishing touches to be added before then, the ride maintains all of the heart and humor (never fear, you’ll still get to check out the back side of water!) that it’s known for, while adding some new humor to the adventure, and the new scenes fit in perfectly with the comedic tone.
When Walt Disney originally created the original Jungle Cruise, he based it on the True Life Adventure TV shows and films that he had made, so that it would be very realistic for people who really didn’t get to travel much at that time, and it had a much more serious tone. The boat skippers still lead guests on an expedition through the Nile of Africa, the Amazon of South America, the Irrawaddy of Southeast Asia, and the Ganges of India, but what they encounter along the way has changed in different incarnations over the years.
According to Susana Tubert, Creative Director of Disney Live Entertainment at Walt Disney Imagineering, “When we began to explore our creative approach to refreshing the Jungle Cruise, we gave ourselves a couple of guiding principles. The first one was how important it was to sustain the lighthearted, comedic tone of the attraction. We wanted to make sure that we stayed true to the humor. And then, the second one was about looking for opportunities to find ways to bring an inclusive brush stroke across the attraction, but one that would feel relevant, authentic and organic . . . We put the characters and our guests in these unexpected scenarios that they have to overcome, and then what’s fun is that, by the end of the ride, the guests and the skippers realize, in reality, it’s the animals that guest the last laugh.”
When it came to the aspect of diversity and inclusivity, to reflect not only the guests but the cast members today, Imagineers expanded the ride’s backstory and centered it around Alberta Falls, the granddaughter of world-renowned Dr. Albert Falls, as the proprietor of the Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. Alberta is very well-traveled and cultured, and it is her friends who make up the safari of explorers from around the world that now find themselves stuck up a tree when their journey doesn’t go quite as planned.
Even though he no longer appears in the ride, Trader Sam still has a location of things for sale that he’s picked up from lost and found and made available in his gift shop. He’s just not available to be there himself because he’s off collecting new inventory.
Along with marking the 66th anniversary of the much-loved attraction, the reopening is also a reminder of the upcoming blockbuster action flick starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt, that hits theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on July 30th. Much like with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Jungle Cruise was directly inspired by its namesake, which in turn has led to a bunch of fun nods to the film throughout the upper and lower levels of the queue.
“We were able to get The Rock’s jacket, and the office that’s now run by Alberta Falls has lots of wonderful gifts from people that you might recognize, and some wonderful photographs of her grandfather and people that you know,” shared Kim Irvine, Executive Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering. “There’s a map from the film, that plays a very special part, when they’re trying to piece together the jungle maps. I don’t wanna ruin it because I like the sense of discovery, but take a look at each scene very carefully and you’ll see some fun things.”
As an added bonus, guests will also be able to enjoy the new Pineapple Split at The Tropical Hideaway, comprised of DOLE Whip, blueberries, strawberries and Mandarin oranges, topped with coconut-caramel sauce, crushed plantains, dried hibiscus and toasted coconut. That tasty sounding concoction will be served in a souvenir container that looks like a Jungle Cruise boat with a red and white striped canopy, while supplies last.
Changes to this attraction are also underway in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, with completion expected later this summer. For guests that park hop between California and Florida, there will be differences between each of the experiences, including a new scene that involves chimpanzees and some butterflies.
Forget ‘Romancing the Stone,’ it’s time to Romance the Rock.
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