Friends, a few days ago I noticed a handful of sites sharing the news that the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland and Walt Disney World were getting a much-needed update in the near future. One might think that perhaps the update has something to do with the upcoming Jungle Cruise film that stars Dwayne Johnson (Doom, Rampage) as well as Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place, Edge of Tomorrow). It turns out though that the update is in fact to address some of the outdated caricatures, which have been understandable sources of concern to visitors to the parks over the years. Chris Beatty, the Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive went into more detail in an interview with Jeffrey Epstein of D23:
“When you look at the Jungle Cruise, as it is today, there are just a couple of scenes that don’t do that and needed a refresh. But I want to make sure people know we are not changing the whole Jungle Cruise. 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.” So that’s one of the scenes we’re going to go in and change.”
I am happy to say that the majority of fans of the Jungle Cruise understand and have embraced the idea of the upcoming updates. Perhaps in no small part to the video that was uploaded by Disney Parks – alleviating the concerns that the iconic skippers could possibly be removed from the ride.
After reading about the news, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Imagineers might not find a way to slip the titular character of Weird Al Yankovic’s “Skipper Dan” into the new storyline. The song which was originally released as a single on July 14th of 2009 – and later as one of the five tunes on the Internet Leaks EP the following month – focuses on a talented and lauded actor whose career has diverged from Hollywood and Broadway to become a skipper on the Jungle Cruise ride.
In closing out this article, if you want to know how Weird Al Yankovic came up with the idea for “Skipper Dan”, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and enjoy this interview from back in 2010.