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LA Times: Jungle Cruise to be more inclusive after years-long complaints of racism

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  • News LA Times: Jungle Cruise to be more inclusive after years-long complaints of racism


    Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times article:

    Disneyland to make the Jungle Cruise more inclusive after years-long complaints of racism

    by Todd Martens
    Jan. 25, 2021

    "Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise has set sail in the park’s Adventureland area consistently since 1955 and it stands today as one of the remaining opening day attractions overseen by Walt Disney himself.

    But culture often moves faster than decades-old mechanical hippos.

    On Monday, the Walt Disney Co. announced that it’s embarking on what many view as a long-overdue course correction for the Jungle Cruise. Numerous changes will make the attraction feel more inclusive and less racially insensitive in its depiction of other cultures.

    The move follows updates to other older attractions such as Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, all done to remove now-outdated tableaus that can be cringe-inducing at best and racist at worst. The company had already announced that Splash Mountain, originally inspired by the critters in the racist film “Song of the South,” would receive a makeover themed to “The Princess and the Frog,” the movie that featured Disney’s first Black princess.

    The Jungle Cruise, with its ties to the park’s patriarch, is likely to be viewed with a more protective lens by the company’s vast fanbase. Yet the ride has also been one under near-constant evolution since its inception. Its early influences were Disney’s own nature documentaries and the 1951 film “The African Queen,” a favorite of early Disneyland designer Harper Goff.

    Its initial conception as “The Jungle Rivers of the World” leaned slightly more educational than today’s more humor-driven take. The ride’s unsavory tribal depictions, largely inspired by images from Papua New Guinea, were added in the years after its opening. These vignettes essentially depict indigenous people as either tourist attraction, attackers or cannibals.

    “Horrifyingly racist” is how one of Disney’s peers in the theme park design community, the Thinkwell Group, characterized various Jungle Cruise scenes in an essay published shortly after Disney announced the changes to Splash Mountain.

    A spear-waving war party was added to the Jungle Cruise in 1957, as was the “Trader Sam” character, a dark-skinned man today outfitted in straw tribal wear. Disney tiki bars — one on each coast — are named for the character that traffics in stereotypes. He’ll trade you “two of his heads for one of yours.”

    “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,” Carmen Smith said in a statement provided by Disney. Smith is the creative development and inclusion strategies executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, the company’s division responsible for theme park experiences....

    Changes, Disney stressed, are being made independent of an upcoming Jungle Cruise-inspired film starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. Expect all scenes that feature unsavory depictions of indigenous characters to be updated, said a Disney spokesperson, although details on potential tweaks to the war party scene and the Trader Sam finale have not yet been shared.

    As silly and overly pun-filled as the Jungle Cruise may be, it has long been criticized as viewing adventure through an imperialist lens. Non-Americans are depicted as either subservient or savages. Although the ride is meant to be a collage of Asia, Africa and South America, human figures of the regions are presented as exotic, violent and dim-witted, humor that in the 1950s and 1960s was troublesome and today reeks of racism.

    It’s also a point of view that clashes with the broader cultural Disney theme park mission, which over the decades has shifted from cartoonish and simplistic depictions of other cultures to a brand with a more global perspective. When Walt Disney World opened Animal Kingdom in 1998, Africa and Asia were shown in a more revered light, which only served to heighten the outdated cultural depictions of the Jungle Cruise...."



    Full story at the LA Times.





    "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
    it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
    together with every variety of recreation and fun,
    designed to appeal to everyone."

    - Walt Disney

    "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
    - Michael Eisner

    "It's very symbiotic."
    - Bob Chapek

  • #2
    Anyone who complains about these changes needs to get a grip... I've seen a lot of people whining on Twitter and it's ridiculous. It's a Disneyland ride. Y'all are adults. Yay for those changes! I'm glad Disney is trying to right some wrongs
    I'll never grow up...
    Peter Pan

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mouseketeer07 View Post
      Anyone who complains about these changes needs to get a grip... I've seen a lot of people whining on Twitter and it's ridiculous. It's a Disneyland ride. Y'all are adults. Yay for those changes! I'm glad Disney is trying to right some wrongs
      Ok, your opinion is fine, but please don't lecture. I don't have a problem with the changes, but with the current Disney track record (and hypocrisy) I'm not sure it's going to be good changes. "Diversity" is a natural thing and cannot be artificially manufactured by Government, or multi-billion dollar Companies.
      We need another Walt...and fast!

      "It's always more difficult to recover than it is to do the right thing at the beginning" - Tony Baxter,
      The Imagineering Story, Episode 4 "Hit or Miss"

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Laugh-O-Grams View Post

        Ok, your opinion is fine, but please don't lecture. I don't have a problem with the changes, but with the current Disney track record (and hypocrisy) I'm not sure it's going to be good changes. "Diversity" is a natural thing and cannot be artificially manufactured by Government, or multi-billion dollar Companies.
        The issue is not about implementing Diversity, it's how the current depictions of 'diversity' for the ride are outdated.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Spongeocto4 View Post

          The issue is not about implementing Diversity, it's how the current depictions of 'diversity' for the ride are outdated.
          So change it. I never liked the Headhunters anyway. Not because of some social wrong doing, but because they were boring and I would rather see more animals. Not everything has to be a crusade.
          We need another Walt...and fast!

          "It's always more difficult to recover than it is to do the right thing at the beginning" - Tony Baxter,
          The Imagineering Story, Episode 4 "Hit or Miss"

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post

            The Jungle Cruise, with its ties to the park’s patriarch,

            This got the biggest laugh from me.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Spongeocto4 View Post

              The issue is not about implementing Diversity, it's how the current depictions of 'diversity' for the ride are outdated.
              As long as there isn't a tie-in to the Rock or anything else from the ridiculous steampunk movie version, I think it will be good. But as I have said before, today's TDA and WDI makes me nervous and I don't put much faith in their ideas anymore. I just hope the pea-brains in Consumer Products are not calling the shots.

              I have to agree with Laugh-O-Grams , I never liked the Head-Hunters either. It's like they ran out of ideas and just tossed in a bunch of dancing Natives. Give me more Animals.
              “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.”

              DL Trips: '58, '59, '61, '65, '66, '67, '68x2, '69x2, '70x2, '71x2, '73x2, '74x2, '75x2, '76x2, '77, '78,x2, '79x2, '80x2, '81, '82, '83, '88, '89x3, '90x2, '91, '93, '94, '95x2, '96, '97, '98x4, '99, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07x2, '08, '09x2, '10, '11, '13
              WDW Trips: '81
              EPCOT Trips: '93
              Tokyo DL Trips: '86

              Comment


              • #8
                Todd Martens writes an article proclaiming Disneyland as a place that sells its customers "racially insensitive," "cringe-inucing," "horrifyingly racist" attractions, with characters that "traffic in stereotypes."

                On the exact same day he published this, Todd Martens twitter bio says he goes to Disneyland way too much.

                Is there maybe a disconnect, here?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by J. Thaddeus Toad View Post
                  Todd Martens writes an article proclaiming Disneyland as a place that sells its customers "racially insensitive," "cringe-inucing," "horrifyingly racist" attractions, with characters that "traffic in stereotypes."

                  On the exact same day he published this, Todd Martens twitter bio says he goes to Disneyland way too much.

                  Is there maybe a disconnect, here?
                  I didn’t get the impression that he necessarily shares those sentiments in the article. More that he was citing other articles that do believe those statements.

                  I don’t know the guy so I’m not really here to defend him. just saying that I didn’t get that impression from the article
                  Mike_M

                  Disneyland Trips
                  Walt Disney World
                  Disneyland Paris

                  1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                  1990, 1992, 1993

                  2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                  2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                  2020

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by stovk View Post
                    As long as there isn't a tie-in to the Rock or anything else from the ridiculous steampunk movie version, I think it will be good. But as I have said before, today's TDA and WDI makes me nervous and I don't put much faith in their ideas anymore. I just hope the pea-brains in Consumer Products are not calling the shots.

                    I have to agree with Laugh-O-Grams , I never liked the Head-Hunters either. It's like they ran out of ideas and just tossed in a bunch of dancing Natives. Give me more Animals.
                    The best part about the headhunters is when the skipper would imitate the sound of spears flying in the mic and the ensuing joke about the spears going over our heads. One joke just isn't enough to keep a scene around.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J. Thaddeus Toad View Post
                      Todd Martens writes an article proclaiming Disneyland as a place that sells its customers "racially insensitive," "cringe-inucing," "horrifyingly racist" attractions, with characters that "traffic in stereotypes."

                      On the exact same day he published this, Todd Martens twitter bio says he goes to Disneyland way too much.

                      Is there maybe a disconnect, here?
                      When being "offended" is your bread and butter, it becomes an involuntary reaction. Kind of like the knee reflex.
                      “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.”

                      DL Trips: '58, '59, '61, '65, '66, '67, '68x2, '69x2, '70x2, '71x2, '73x2, '74x2, '75x2, '76x2, '77, '78,x2, '79x2, '80x2, '81, '82, '83, '88, '89x3, '90x2, '91, '93, '94, '95x2, '96, '97, '98x4, '99, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07x2, '08, '09x2, '10, '11, '13
                      WDW Trips: '81
                      EPCOT Trips: '93
                      Tokyo DL Trips: '86

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mike_M View Post

                        I didn’t get the impression that he necessarily shares those sentiments in the article. More that he was citing other articles that do believe those statements.

                        I don’t know the guy so I’m not really here to defend him. just saying that I didn’t get that impression from the article
                        Maybe he was. But aside from "horrifyingly racist," those are direct quotes from the author.

                        Moreover, why not present the counterarguments? There's plenty of research material on why Walt and the imagineers made the decisions they did in these attractions. And it's not like there is a lack of good faith arguments in defense of the character of these rides, and Walt Disney himself, that can easily be found. Talk about the "save splash mountain" petition and how its signatures outnumber "retheme splash mountain" by a wide margin, etc, etc.

                        Good journalism is supposed to present both sides of an argument.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There's already a big thread discussing the Jungle Cruise changes. What's the point of this one? To complain about the complainers and/or "PC culture"?
                          Last edited by jacob555; 01-26-2021, 02:32 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by J. Thaddeus Toad View Post

                            Maybe he was. But aside from "horrifyingly racist," those are direct quotes from the author.
                            Fair enough. I suppose I’m more interested in hearing the message and making up my opinions on that vs. what the writer thinks himself or looking for opportunities to discredit him as a way of distracting away from the topic.

                            Moreover, why not present the counterarguments? There's plenty of research material on why Walt and the imagineers made the decisions they did in these attractions. And it's not like there is a lack of good faith arguments in defense of the character of these rides, and Walt Disney himself, that can easily be found. Talk about the "save splash mountain" petition and how its signatures outnumber "retheme splash mountain" by a wide margin, etc, etc.

                            Good journalism is supposed to present both sides of an argument.
                            The counter arguments have been out there for decades. The civil rights movement is not something that started when Splash Mountain was announced to be getting re-themed. Whether anyone agrees with it or not, the discussion has been going on for quite a long time and is obviously a problem in American culture whether we want to admit it or not. I don’t think anyone here in this discussion is saying Walt or the Imagineers were racist. What we are saying though, is that times have changed and in order for Disneyland to be relevant to today’s society and future generations, it’s time for it to change too.

                            Good journalism is supposed to report the facts and let people make up their own minds about whether it’s good or not. While this reporter may have used some strong statements, the fact that the ride is being changed and why was still point of the article which is what we should stick to debating if we must have this debate.
                            Mike_M

                            Disneyland Trips
                            Walt Disney World
                            Disneyland Paris

                            1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                            1990, 1992, 1993

                            2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                            2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                            2020

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mouseketeer07 View Post
                              Yay for those changes! I'm glad Disney is trying to right some wrongs

                              I for the the refreshing and new , to this Attraction...Jungle Cruise......

                              It has been long time in coming IMO
                              in this CASE.....I also glad see Disney is trying to right some wrongs !

                              Soaring like an EAGLE !

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                You see, these changes at least make sense, where let's face it, the tribal people were depicted in a less than appealing light, and it put them in a stereotype even though throughout history, that wasn't always the case where a decent amount of tribes in Africa weren't really aggressive towards outsiders, where some are very inviting and hospitable towards outsiders while others aren't. So at least for these changes, it's needed and better than changing the auctioneer scene in Pirates which let's face it, was not really as good of a change (they seriously need to fix the audio bad for Red, because her audio sounds way too out of place for the rest of the ride where they made her particular audio far too loud, I think double the volume the rest of the ride uses to make it noticeable instead of bringing it down to the same level as the rest).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Jungle Cruise to be more inclusive after years-long complaints of racism
                                  I'd be very curious to know the racial makeup of who exactly was complaining.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by jacob555 View Post
                                    There's already a big thread discussing the Jungle Cruise changes. What's the point of this one? To complain about the complainers and/or "PC culture"?
                                    There are multiple repeat discussions on just about every topic. But thank you for being the hall monitor (eyes rolling)
                                    “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.”

                                    DL Trips: '58, '59, '61, '65, '66, '67, '68x2, '69x2, '70x2, '71x2, '73x2, '74x2, '75x2, '76x2, '77, '78,x2, '79x2, '80x2, '81, '82, '83, '88, '89x3, '90x2, '91, '93, '94, '95x2, '96, '97, '98x4, '99, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07x2, '08, '09x2, '10, '11, '13
                                    WDW Trips: '81
                                    EPCOT Trips: '93
                                    Tokyo DL Trips: '86

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by jish5555 View Post
                                      You see, these changes at least make sense, where let's face it, the tribal people were depicted in a less than appealing light, and it put them in a stereotype even though throughout history, that wasn't always the case where a decent amount of tribes in Africa weren't really aggressive towards outsiders, where some are very inviting and hospitable towards outsiders while others aren't. So at least for these changes, it's needed and better than changing the auctioneer scene in Pirates which let's face it, was not really as good of a change (they seriously need to fix the audio bad for Red, because her audio sounds way too out of place for the rest of the ride where they made her particular audio far too loud, I think double the volume the rest of the ride uses to make it noticeable instead of bringing it down to the same level as the rest).
                                      I think this is a pretty good take and where I sit with it. Unlike the bride scene in PotC, the headhunters are NOT an accurate representation of African tribespeople. Any argument for historical accuracy that was applied to disliking the changes on the Pirates cannot be applied here.

                                      I think these changes are great for guests, actually. Most of us frequenting this forum like the uneven experience of riding the Jungle Cruise. We've been on it so many times that different skippers being varying levels of bad to good are part of the fun for us. However, on the whole, the Jungle Cruise is an highly inconsistent experience for the normal (read: first time) theme park guest. Can you imagine if your laughably bad skipper was the first and only experience a new visitor gets of that ride? Not great is it?

                                      I think having a real story will allow for a tighter script and, even when there are uneven performances from the skippers, at least there will be a better framework of ride experience for the guest.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by savarese04 View Post

                                        I think this is a pretty good take and where I sit with it. Unlike the bride scene in PotC, the headhunters are NOT an accurate representation of African tribespeople. Any argument for historical accuracy that was applied to disliking the changes on the Pirates cannot be applied here.

                                        I think these changes are great for guests, actually. Most of us frequenting this forum like the uneven experience of riding the Jungle Cruise. We've been on it so many times that different skippers being varying levels of bad to good are part of the fun for us. However, on the whole, the Jungle Cruise is an highly inconsistent experience for the normal (read: first time) theme park guest. Can you imagine if your laughably bad skipper was the first and only experience a new visitor gets of that ride? Not great is it?

                                        I think having a real story will allow for a tighter script and, even when there are uneven performances from the skippers, at least there will be a better framework of ride experience for the guest.
                                        THIS! It’s unfortunate that it seems that now the weird lackluster skipper experiences outweigh the good, and I think that comes with a lack of a consistent story. The only good skipper I had of recent practically crafted his own story instead of falling back on the “wow, the backside of water!” I understand that joke is a historical gem, but when it’s the only one you have in the bag... eh...

                                        (Regarding the good skipper experience — I forgot his name, but basically he went through the ride relating most of the scenes to his dating life. My favorite was him scaring away the hippos like his dates by simply screaming, “I LOVE YOU!” He put his all into it. Good stuff.)

                                        Comment

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