Yesterland
 
Goodbye,
Old Jungle Cruise

 
at Disneyland Park
and Magic Kingdom Park
 
January 29, 2021
Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2020

Earlier this week, on January 25, 2021, Disney announced plans to update the classic Jungle Cruise in California and Florida.

It’s about time. At Disneyland, the last significant new show scenes, including Gorillas in the Camp, were added in 1976.


Renderings showed a re-imagined version of the Trapped Safari scene and an entirely new scene of chimpanzees who have taken over a wrecked Jungle Cruise boat.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

© Disney 2021, Artist Concept Only

A new take on a classic scene

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

© Disney 2021, Artist Concept Only

The wrecked boat of the five adventurers

The Disney Parks Blog shared that there would be “new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love—more humor, wildlife and skipper heart—and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.”

The website of D23 (“the Official Disney Fan Club”) published an interview with Chris Beatty, Creative Portfolio Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. Beatty explained, “This is not a re-envisioning of the entire attraction. It’s the Jungle Cruise you know and love, with the skippers still leading the way, and at the same time, we’re addressing the negative depictions of “natives.”

Without saying so directly, the phrases “reflect and value the diversity” and “addressing the negative depictions“ made it clear that the African porters, dancing natives, ambush party, and Trader Sam’s shrunken heads would all be “sent to Yesterland.”

So let’s say goodbye to the Old Jungle Cruise.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

Entering the dense jungle foliage (Disneyland)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

Sunlight glowing through the rainforest mist (Disneyland)

The best parts of the Jungle Cruise are staying. There’s no need to say goodbye to the skippers, the boats, the animal scenes, Schweitzer Falls, or the jungle itself.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

“You can take pictures because they all have their trunks on.” (Magic Kingdom)

The Indian Elephant Bathing Pool, Gorillas in the Camp, the African Veldt, and the Hippo Pool should all survive.

Surprisingly, the Trapped Safari is quite different at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Park.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2017

Trapped Safari (Disneyland)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2017

Trapped Safari detail (Disneyland)

At Disneyland, the Lost Safari scene joined the Jungle Cruise in the summer of 1964. A Great White Hunter and his four fez-wearing native African porters sought safety from a rhinoceros with a particularly long horn. The porters wear identical khaki outfits and carry identical small backpacks.

Disneyland has been closed since March 2020. Presumably, the five men are still shifting higher and lower, as the rhino raises and lowers his horn—even without guests watching.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2020

Lost Safari (Magic Kingdom)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2018

Lost Safari detail (Magic Kingdom)

When the Jungle Cruise opened in Florida in 1971, the rhino was once again trying to get his point across to the hunter and his porters. But at some point, the men on the pole changed in Florida—but not in California.

The safari group in Florida currently consists of five hapless white guys, one of whom is wearing a fez. The pole has an unexplained platform at its top. This safari party carries more stuff on their backs than at Disneyland.

Both versions of the Lost Safari will become the same.

Quoting Chris Beatty in the D23 article again, “Did you ever wonder who those explorers were or where they came from? What’s their backstory? As part of the enhanced storyline, each one of them will have their own story and cultural heritage. There’s a birdwatcher, an entomologist, a wildlife painter, and a photographer, and each one will have a different reason for being on the expedition.”

If you look at the rendering, you can figure out who’s who. The woman at the top is observing a bird nest, and so on.

Next on our “Say Goodbye” tour, our skipper navigates into Headhunter Territory: “We are now entering the most dangerous part of our journey. This is a bad place to be headed.”

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

Native dancers in their village (Disneyland)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2020

Native hut with skulls (Magic Kingdom)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Native musicians (Disneyland)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2020

Drummers in their thatched roof bandstand (Magic Kingdom)

The costumes and ornamentation of the musicians and dancing natives are based on the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea, but the inhabitants of Headhunter Territory come across as Hollywood stereotypes of “savages,” made worse by the skipper script.

This isn’t about enjoying a unique culture. It’s about pretending the passengers are in danger. Your skipper might look for someone on the boat wearing distinctive clothing, before delivering the line, ”They’ll only attack you if you’re wearing…" followed by a description of that item of apparel.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

Ambush! (Magic Kingdom)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

Pile of human skulls on a native canoe (Disneyland)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

Decorated human skulls atop oars, next to native canoes (Magic Kingdom)

It’s likely that the Wrecked Boat scene will replace the native village in California and Florida. No great loss. Compared to the animal scenes, the Headhunter Territory section is a big yawn. It has not aged well.

Just before returning to the dock, the boat reaches Trader Sam.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Trader Sam’s Outpost (Disneyland)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Trader Sam offering shrunken heads and human skulls (Disneyland)

Trader Sam is the Head Salesman in the jungle, The skippers always let you know about his “two-for-one special, two of his heads for one of yours.”

Shrunken heads were a real thing in the northwestern Amazon basin of South America—which is not the usual habitat of a baby Indian elephant.

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2009

A different Trader Sam, but also dealing shrunken heads (Magic Kingdom)

Goodbye, Old Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Trader Sam-ta during the Jingle Cruise overlay (Magic Kingdom)

At Magic Kingdom Park, Trader Sam looks nothing like his Disneyland counterpart. With an umbrella (must be that Florida rain), a Bolivian bowler hat, and a need to lower his body mass index, he offers the same deal as his physically fit Disneyland counterpart because “business is shrinking.”

For two decades, this Trader Sam even had a different name—Chief Name (pronounced Nah-Meh). There are at least two versions of how Trader Sam became Chief Name. One story is that a revised script was incomplete; a Jungle Cruise skipper read “Chief (name)” in the script as Chief Nah-Meh, much to the delight of the other skippers, so the name stuck. Another story is that there was a contest to come up with a new name; a skipper wrote “Name” in the blank, and “Name” won the vote as the best name.

The announcements from Disney didn’t mention the fate of Trader Sam. Having the ride conclude with the jungle version of a gift shop offering a creepy souvenir is clever—but it would be odd if Trader Sam continues to deal in shrunken heads after Headhunter Territory and the other human skulls go away.

No doubt, the Imagineers will figure out a good way to handle Trader Sam.


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Updated February 26, 2021