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Jungle Cruise Movie: Everything We Know About The Disneyland Ride Adaptation

Jungle Cruise has been delayed twice already, but it finally has a release date that might stick.


How ubiquitous is Disney? They can make high-budget films inspired by their decades-old theme park rides, and no one even bats an eye. When Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl released in 2003 the conventional wisdom was that pirate movies, let alone one based on a 1967 boat ride, were box office poison. A $4.5 billion combined gross dispelled that notion.

Disney has established the formula for making this unlikely sort of adaptation work: Keep things light and fast paced, throw in enough Easter Eggs to please the die-hards, and cast an A-List actor to anchor it. But still, no ride-based movie has ever been as successful as Pirates. The Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland, Mission to Mars, and The Country Bears all underperformed. Could the latest attempted ride adaptation, Jungle Cruise, succeed where those movies failed?

Here is everything we know about Jungle Cruise so far.

Jungle Cruise movie release date

Jungle Cruise will release in the United States on July 30, 2021. It is noteworthy that the movie actually wrapped production on June 1, 2019; it has been sitting on the shelf for over two years. The original release date was October 11, 2019, which was then moved to July 24, 2020. The COVID pandemic pushed the release to its current date.

Jungle Cruise movie cast

The two headliners are Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Frank, a riverboat skipper, and Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton, a swashbuckling Indiana Jones type scientist. Also in supporting roles are Paul Giamatti, Jesse Plemons, Édgar Ramírez, and Jack Whitehall.

What's the story?

According to the official site, Jungle Cruise is set in the Amazon rainforest. Dr. Houghton (Blunt) enlists the services of Frank (Johnson) to travel downriver on his boat, La Quila. Her goal is to find the Tree of Life, which legend says has mystical healing powers, and could revolutionize medical practice. Along the way, they run into obstacles both real (such as a competing German expedition and wild animals) and supernatural.

The Tree of Life is potentially another Disney attraction reference; a tree by the same name is the visual centerpiece of Walt Disney World's fourth main theme park, the Animal Kingdom. The two trees bear a striking visual resemblance to one another.

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Who's the director?

The director of Jungle Cruise is Jaume Collet-Serra. You might not know his name, but you probably know his movies--mostly horror and action thrillers, including House of Wax and Orphan. More recently, he's directed several Liam Neeson action vehicles such as Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night, and The Commuter.

What's the Jungle Cruise ride like?

When Disneyland first opened to the public in 1955, Jungle Cruise also debuted. Today, it remains one of the few attractions that has survived from opening day, that Walt Disney had a direct hand in creating.

It takes its audience, via boat cruise, through a series of jungle tableaus based on South America, Asia, and Africa. Like much of Disney, the fanciful exists alongside the realistic; there are animatronic hippos, a rhino who's chased a group of men up a tree, and a group of hostile tribal natives who target your boat. You are accompanied on your cruise by a skipper, who pilots the boat and gives a dryly humorous, puntastic spiel about everything you see. The skipper role allows for a lot of improvisation; much of the ride's appeal comes down to the self-effacing, meta narrative.

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Will Disney change the ride?

In response to changing cultural norms, Disney will soon redo all of the ride's scenes that include stereotypically hostile natives. They also plan to overhaul the ride's story to include an animated skipper alongside the real one. As far as we know, however, none of these changes will add characters from the upcoming movie, like when they added an animatronic Jack Sparrow to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride--although that could always come later, depending on the movie's success.

Are there any trailers or preview images?

There are two trailers available online. The first trailer promoted the Summer 2020 release date. The second trailer, released several months later, promoted the July 24, 2020 release date. There has been no new trailer since, though we can almost certainly anticipate a new one leading up to July 30, 2021.

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