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Big Jungle Cruise Refurbishment Coming to Disney World & Disneyland

Disney has just announced big changes coming to one of its classic rides as a Jungle Cruise refurbishment is planned for the Walt Disney World and Disneyland versions of the attraction.

Jungle Cruise Refurbishment details

According to Disney’s announcement, the Jungle Cruise will be reimagined with a more inclusive and diverse environment of the modern day.

Walt Disney World Imagineering said: “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.”

In this post, we are going to post everything we know about the Jungle Cruise refurbishment project including all the updates, new scenes, characters and the construction dates.

(NEWS 4/5/21) Trader Sam Removed from Jungle Cruise Ride

Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley recently told us that the Jungle Cruise refurbishment is starting soon, and it looks like that is now underway. This morning the famous Trader Sam character figure at the end of the ride was gone form the attraction’s final scene.

Is Trader Sam being removed from the Jungle Cruise

Trader Sam is the “head salesman” of the Jungle Cruise ride, famous for holding the shrinking heads. Not only has the Trader Sam figure been removed, but all his props are gone now too.

Disney has yet to comment specifically about Trader Sam, but it appears his removal will be a permanent one as Disney moves to make the ride more inclusive. We’ve already seen some of the changes with new characters and other scenes changing that promote cultural diversity.

As far as we know, the Trader Sam bars at Disney’s Polynesian Resort will keep their name. We will keep an eye on the developments of the Jungle Cruise refurbishment as the days a weeks pass.

(NEWS 4/3/21) Jungle Cruise Refurbishment Starting Soon

For a couple of months now we’ve been wondering when Disney is going to start making the updates to the Jungle Cruise attraction. Now we know that it’s going to begin sooner rather than later.

Jungle Cruise construction concept art with monkeys

In fact, Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley has just announced that work on the Jungle Cruise refurbishment is about to get started. He didn’t give an exact date but that sounds like it will begin in the upcoming weeks or even days.

The good new is that the work on the Jungle Cruise will not shut the attraction down and guests will still be able to ride while construction is going on. The work will take place over several months.

Riddley mentioned that guests might start to notice some “monkey business along the river” when the work does start. Disney will likely have the new scenes covered by construction walls and they will work in some clever joke into the ride as an excuse.

While no exact details were given, it makes me think Imagineers will work on one scene at a time to provide minimum disruption to the guest experience instead of working on 2-3 scenes all at the same time. We’ll have to see how this plays out once construction begins.

Jungle Cruise Changes Overview

Here is a video by Disney of some of the changes to the Jungle Cruise:

That’s not the only change coming to the Jungle Cruise. We’re all used to the funny skippers that head the adventures into the jungle, well now there will also be a skipper figure somewhere within the ride itself.

With the update will come a new story as guests aboard the journey will follow what happened to another skipper and his passengers when their adventure went awry.

In the new story, guests will set out on their journey to find out what happened to a lost skipper and his expedition group when their excursion went awry.

As you find out later in the ride, the lost expedition group will be literally up a tree and their sunken boat split apart as chimps take over the ship, causing all sorts of problems.

Jungle Cruise Refurbishment

The idea is to add “more humor, wildlife and skipper heart – and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.”

Disney has released some early concept art for the new Jungle Cruise scenes:

Jungle Cruise Refurbishment

In the concept art you can see a similar scene to what is already in the attraction only now the expedition crew is now more racially diverse.

Jungle Cruise Refurbishment concept art

They also show the scene where the chimps take over one of the Jungle Cruise boats.

In fact, Disney will be using some of its old boats previously on the attraction in the show scenes. These boats include the Mekong Maiden and Kwango Kate.

Jungle Cruise Refurbishment

Disney Imagineer Kim Irvine 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” and that the team working on the project is continuing “a Disney tradition of change and enhancement that was encouraged by Walt Disney.”

Jungle Cruise Refurbishment

The Jungle Cruise is not the only attraction that Disney has scheduled to be reimagined so as to be more inclusive to visitors. Disney announced total re-theming of Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog attraction that will be coming to the Magic Kingdom in the new few years.

It was previously believed that Dwayne Johnson and other characters from the upcoming Jungle Cruise film would be introduced in the Jungle Cruise attractions, however, Disney has not announced that at this time. They did say they have more announcements coming soon about the ride’s changes, but we are skeptical that The Rock will be added.

If he were going to be added, I don’t think Disney would have missed out on the big PR opportunity to include that part in the announcement. I guess anything is possible though so we’ll have to wait and see if that happens.

Jungle Cruise Refurbishment

Another question that immediately comes to mind is if Trader Sam is being removed from the Jungle Cruise attraction? Honestly, we think it’s a real possibility right now.

Disney is trying to make the ride more inclusive, and the portrayal of the indigenous people living in the jungle is one of the images they want to get rid of. While Disney hasn’t commented specifically on the matter, already we’ve seen the Trader Sam character removed from the ride and not likely coming back after the refurbishment.

If Disney does get rid of Trader Sam, that also begs the question, does Trader Sam’s over at the Polynesian Resort get a name change? Disney has commented the two bars bearing the name: “Trader Sam” will remain, we’ll see if that holds.

Right now there is no date for the start of the construction on the Jungle Cruise, nor an expected completion date, just that it is coming “soon.” Disney would like to get this attraction ready before the start of The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary coming later in 2021, which sounds like an ambitious target.

Seeing as the ride will be ready by the end of the year, perhaps it isn’t as extensive as we originally thought. In comparison, the Splash Mountain refurb will likely take a full year or two to put in all the changes, and this Jungle Cruise announcement doesn’t feel as big as that.

Jungle Cruise explorers in tree scene

As for the changes themselves, we don’t have a whole lot of opinions on them and prefer to reserve judgement until we actually see the new scenes in person. We know that many of the hardcore Jungle Cruise fans will no doubt be upset about the changes, as many Disney fans are whenever there is a big refurbishment to one of the classic rides.

Disney is big on inclusion right now after adding it as the 5th Key to their Cast Member training program and a core value for all employees of the company, and it makes sense they are making changes to the Jungle Cruise. Expect more of these type of updates to more attractions in the parks.

It could be a positive move as the Magic Kingdom is in dire need of some updates to its older rides.

Jungle Cruise Temple scene Magic Kingdom

We have no problem updating an older attraction, as long as it is immersive with the guest experience in mind, and it follows most of what has made it such a witty and popular ride over the past decades. If it does that it will be a success.

This is a developing story and we’ll update you with more details shortly, so stay tuned. Check out all the Walt Disney World Refurbishments coming to the parks in the coming months.

Your Thoughts

I want to know what you think about the Jungle Cruise refurbishment project…

  • Are you looking forward to these new changes?
  • What other new additions would you like to see?

Let us know in the comments section below!

If you enjoyed this article, as always I appreciate it if you’d share it with others via social media.  I work hard at making this website into a useful resource for you and your family to plan your visit to the Disney Parks and I hope it can help you! Thanks 🙂

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Michelle

Friday 16th of April 2021

I love the addition of different colors of people, but removing an indigenous trader seems like EXCLUSION, since there are still indigenous people that do not look like Americans. Careful Disney, you may go too far in the PC direction and remove all references to accurate history!

...I mean, my family and I are not into ghouls and suicide, but we still ride Haunted Mansion...

Pete G.

Sunday 11th of April 2021

gave up annual pass, tired of disney's B.S.

Lorraine S

Thursday 8th of April 2021

Oh my goodness. Everything is not an issue of being "politically correct" . What next - close Small World and 7 Dwarves Mine Train because it features "little people"? I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way. It's getting ridiculous.

kamir bouchareb st

Tuesday 6th of April 2021

good

Ona Keeforthis

Sunday 4th of April 2021

Reimagine another vacation spot !

Cartoon replaces movie ride at Hollywood ? Studios ?

Meals changed at restaurants, exclusion of any non Disney owned anything.

Non-offensive rides, and staff to reeducation camps. Sounds like something out of the reich.

I'll spend my money at a loction that is not pushing their agenda down my throat...... at my expense.

I don't go on vacation to be preached to, or converted to a new social-religion. Get enough of the in the daily world.

Groom someone elses family, to someone's ideal of social norms.

Lorraine S

Thursday 8th of April 2021

@Ona Keeforthis, thank you for that comment....You hit the nail right on the head. I agree totally. When I first saw that they changed the "Bride Auction" on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride....I knew we were in for trouble. Enough will all this "politically correct" stuff . Just let us have our "magical" day and stop ruining things.