Major Jungle Cruise Changes At Disneyland Make For A Better Ride

As Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt's Jungle Cruise movie heads to theaters, Disneyland is relaunching the iconic theme park ride with some massive changes on July 16.

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The Jungle Cruise is an iconic ride at California's Disneyland. In fact, it's one of the park's original attractions, dating back to opening day on July 17, 1955. Now, as it celebrates its 66th birthday, the ride is relaunching on July 16 with a massive makeover just as a Jungle Cruise movie is set to hit theaters and Disney+ premiere access.

The new Jungle Cruise isn't necessarily inspired by the film, though there are nods to it for fans to check out. Instead, Walt Disney Imagineering has given the ride a series of upgrades, implementing a storyline, several new scenes, an army of new animals causing some serious chaos, and the removal of certain characters that were culturally insensitive--notably the spear-carrying "natives" and Trader Sam.

The new ride experience starts as you walk up to it. An updated sign features boat oars in place of the old spears. From there, guests move into the queue, which not only includes Easter eggs from the Jungle Cruise movie (keep an eye out for costume items worn by Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in the film) but also introduces the new lore of the ride.

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Historically, there is one character name associated with the Jungle Cruise, and that's Dr. Albert Falls (namesake of the ride's Schweitzer Falls). "We realized that Dr. Albert Falls has a granddaughter named Alberta, who could become the new proprietor of the Jungle Navigation Company," Walt Disney Imagineering creative director Susana Tubert revealed during a media event, adding that in the canon of the ride, Alberta's mother is an artist from India and her father is a British scholar. "So Alberta has this benefit that she's traveled all over the world. She's very cultural, she's very worldly, and she's made a lot of friends."

In the story being told on the ride, those friends have now come to visit Alberta, leaving trinkets that hint to their personalities throughout the line queue. They end up going on a Jungle Cruise themselves, though, and naturally things go very wrong.

It's important to note that, for the most part, the first half of the ride remains unchanged. You're still seeing the same animal scenes--including the "sleeping" zebra--and getting the same pun-filled dialogue from your skippers. As you get into the second half of the ride, though, the new Jungle Cruise shines through. The lost safari party being chased up a tree by a rhino has been replaced by Alberta's friends stuck in that predicament. How did they end up out of their boat and in a tree? That's revealed next, as a group of fun-loving monkeys has seemingly crashed the boat and are now playing with the supplies they found on-board as the ship goes down.

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You can check out the photos above for a better look. This is the most exciting part of the new take on the ride. The boat crash takes up two scenes, while another sees monkeys playing with butterflies they've discovered in a shipment. This is one scene that will be different at Walt Disney World's new take on the Jungle Cruise when it opens later this summer; it was revealed during the media event that in Florida, the monkeys can be found eating some of the butterflies.

The final major change comes at the end of the ride when you reach Trader Sam's lost and found stand, where the character has been removed from the ride. Per Imagineering, he's off collecting new goods to sell back to guests after rebranding the lost and found a gift shop. In his place, more monkeys are running the store, snapping photos, and having too much fun playing with the goods Sam has left behind.

Unfortunately, this isn't an actual gift shop and the ride photos being taken aren't real. Still, it's an entertaining way to welcome guests back to the dock, putting a nice finishing touch on the new experience.

In all, the revamped version of Jungle Cruise puts the focus on the animals and all of the fun they seem to be having at the expense of people silly enough to get lost in their natural habitat. "What's fun is that by the end of the ride the guests and the skipper have realized that, in reality, it's the animals that get the last laugh," Tubert said. "That's the twist to our story."

The Jungle Cruise reopens at Disneyland on July 16. The ride will then re-debut at Walt Disney World later this summer.

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