“It’s a small world after all,” according to the folks at Disney. But it’s now a more diverse and inclusive one as well.
Leah Asmelash of CNN has reported that, after years of criticism, the popular Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland has finally been rethought and revamped in an effort to eliminate the numerous racially insensitive stereotypes and controversial depictions of Indigenous people it used to contain.
“In January, the corporation announced it would rethink the classic Jungle Cruise ride, in which a skipper ferried visitors along a waterway while making jokes and funny comments. One of the sights visitors were taken past involved a scene featuring ‘Natives,’ depicted as primitive and threatening,” Asmelash said.
Completely reimagined versions of the ride will reopen on July 16 at Disneyland in California and later this summer at Disney World in Florida.
In a statement from the company, Carmen Smith, creative development and inclusion strategies executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, said, “as Imagineers, it is our responsibility to ensure experiences we create and stories we share reflect the voices and perspective of the world around us.”
According to Asmelash, the ride now contains new scenes and new characters, including less offensive fare such as a “safari group stuck in a tree.”
Chris Beatty, creative portfolio executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, explained that in redeveloping the ride, Disney wanted to maintain its “classic” feel while also bringing in a much needed and appreciated new sense of “inclusivity.”
“We want to make sure that everyone that rides the Jungle Cruise can see themselves in the characters and in this experience,” he said.
Disney’s Jungle Cruise is one of the several rides at the popular theme park called out for outdated racial depictions over the years.
Most famously last summer, Asmelash reported that the company revamped its Splash Mountain, which “featured characters from Song of the South, widely considered the studio’s most racist movie for its stereotypical portrayals of Black people in the antebellum South.” Instead, Disney brought in new inspiration from the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog, which included Disney’s first-ever animated Black princess.