Tokyo Disneyland to reboot its Jungle Cruise

July 12, 2013, 8:56 AM · The Tokyo Disney Resort just announced a US$16 million reboot of Tokyo Disneyland's Jungle Cruise ride, for a fall 2014 debut.

Tokyo Disneyland Jungle Cruise

From the press release:

The revamped version of the attraction will have new lighting effects and other special show effects. In addition, a specially written musical sound track will be heard throughout the attraction for the first time in any Jungle Cruise. Also, an after-dark only “night cruise” will provide a unique take on the jungle adventure.

The new Jungle Cruise will offer Guests an adventure that is even more thrilling than before. From on board the attraction’s boats, Guests will explore jungle landscapes full of wild animals with the help of their daring and comical skipper who guides them through the beauty and dangers of this exotic world. The adventure includes a startling encounter with one of the animal spirit guardians in the ruins of a lost jungle temple.

The "night cruise" option reminds me of the wildly popular "Night Safari" at the Singapore Zoo, an attraction that's been copied throughout Asia. But a musical soundtrack? As the press release stated, that is a first for a Jungle Cruise. Tokyo Disney's got a pretty good track record with musical revamps, though. Tokyo DisneySea's 2007 revamp of its Sindbad ride added Alan Menken's "The Compass of Your Heart," which has proven itself one of the top theme park songs in the world.

Of course, this announcement should fuel speculation on whether similar reboots will come to Disney's other Jungle Cruises around the world. The Oriental Land Company — not Disney — might be paying the bills in Tokyo, but they're hiring the same Imagineers who could bring these same plans to Disney's U.S. parks for the (not unsubstantial) cost of installation.

The current version of Jungle Cruise will close in Tokyo on January 6, 2014.

Replies (20)

July 12, 2013 at 9:10 AM · Surprised TH hasn't commented yet, he always eats up anything Jungle Cruise ;)
July 12, 2013 at 9:49 AM · Have you been on the Tokyo Jungle Cruise, Robert? If so, any guesses as to why they would make this change?
July 12, 2013 at 9:53 AM · I skipped that ride in Tokyo, mostly because it's such a narrative-driven attraction and I don't speak Japanese. But from I understand, it's essentially the same ride as the US versions.
July 12, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Clearly this is the biggest theme park news of the last decade.

Love the soundtrack (as long as it is not intrusive to the narrative. LOVE LOVE LOVE the night time variation. Genius!

Nice of the OLC to pick-up the tab for this experiment. Here's hoping that WDI top dog and former JCS Jon Lasseter will play a big role in the reboot and then draw from that experience when juicing the WDW and DLR productions.

On a final note: Hey Rao ... YOU LOSE!

July 12, 2013 at 10:31 AM · This would have to happen in Japan. The US Disney fan-boy crowd would never accept it. I can imagine the endless blog posts and comments now...
July 12, 2013 at 10:50 AM · One of the cheapest (investment wise) things Disney can do is change the script and jokes every 2 or 3 years. It's a really tired ride with a tired script and is as boring and outdated as it is old. Imagine what they could do with all that land. Tarzan toilets, a Jungle book eatery and a "game" finding differently coloured coconuts in a palm tree forest. Finish it of with a new jungle cruise ride including the people mover ride system showing the animals singing a catchy song and a projection off the backside of a waterfall.
July 12, 2013 at 11:21 AM · Nope, TH, I win. Anything that brings this dilapidated relic closer to the 21st Century is welcome news.

I also heard a rumor that the ride will be extended to a three hour tour, and that both the Skipper and Gilligan would be featured on the daytime cruises, while Mary Ann and Ginger would take the lead when the sun goes down!!

Oh, yeah, and TH, where's book two, ya lazy bum?!?

July 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM · I'd love to see this type of change at Disney World. They can leave the original in California and take some chances to make it different in Orlando. Of course, that would require Disney to spend more money, so the chances are very low.
July 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM · I would welcome a classy, well thought out upgrade in CA because lets face it the "classic" jungle cruise we all know is not the original anyways ( as the original didn't have comic relief and was more like a realistic excursion more like Mark Twain) and imo gets a little old for revisits. I mean the back side of water just isn't funny after you heard it once. Don't get me wrong, some of the skippers put on an excellent and entertaining performance, but I have long felt that this attraction deserved some serious plussing So this is great news to me. Also Disney has shown that it can upgrade classic attractions while respecting their nostalgia(like POTC). But bigger than that I wish they'd plus Mark Twain with real animatronics!
July 12, 2013 at 1:32 PM · Jacob, "... If so, any guesses as to why they would make this change? ..."
Very interesting question !

The attraction certainly is not "worn out". But, there are 2 basic versions. (a)=> Anaheim-Orlando-Tokyo. (b)=>HK.

Anaheim = original = rooted in the old "Disney's Nature Wonderland" documentary TV series (and the endless spinn off stream of books). (Most people around are too YOUNG to remember those ... ;-) )
Orlando + Tokyo are just near copies. But Orlando is still in the USA, and "wilderness documentary adventures" on TV is an American (and Brittish) tradition. It's the right feeling, with the Jungle cruise, in the USA. The TV documentaries were into jokes all the time as well ! (Compare with Spanish & South American made nature documentaries, those are always so unbelievable "Blood-Serious".)
Now, in the Japanese cultural context, there has never been this typology of 'joking-yet-educative' documentary. It always must have been a bit of a mental puzzle for Japanese customers to understand what is the point of view, there, in the Jungle Cruise. They have no media reference !!
It is my GUESS, that the addition of a musical track, actually is saying to the Japanese visitors : "Look, this is not meant to be blood serious, as it's on a musical chore, OK?"... Sometimes, formal symbolism must help to get the smiles....
I do not know if this really was the reason, but I would suggest something similar, in view of connection to their cultural context.

At (b) :
The Hong-Kong version is completely different, in a serious effort to differenciate into an other cultural context (after cultural context mistakes made in both Japan and even much more in Paris), yet failed blatantly. It's an inferiour show in every respect. It's impossible to get the slightest "feeling" you're in a jungle there... 50% of the time cruising through open water... JUNGLE ?? ... come on...

July 12, 2013 at 3:45 PM · Dan Heaton: I'd love to see this type of change at Disney World ... Of course, that would require Disney to spend more money, so the chances are very low.

I Respond: Yeah, because the expansion of Fantasyland, the relocation of the Lion King Theatre, the development of Avatar at DAK, the inclusion of BOTH Carsland and the Star Wars footprint at DHS are clear indications that the company is unwilling to pony-up bucks to juice the Florida parks.

July 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM · Rao-sta-bout writes: "Nope, TH, I win. Anything that brings this dilapidated relic closer to the 21st Century is welcome news."

I Respond: So you're suggesting that they put Tonto in the hippo pool?


July 12, 2013 at 5:36 PM · Well, the Lone Ranger's going in with the piranhas, so there's not going to be any room over there. ;^)
July 12, 2013 at 9:07 PM · You telling me my Mary Ann / Ginger night cruise idea wasn't cool enough on its own? Okay then, how about a Sharknado? Even better, a Chihuahtopus?

Book 2, TH? We're waiting....

July 12, 2013 at 8:24 PM · 'Name Tags' Book 2 in The Theme Park Trilogy will drop in October.
July 12, 2013 at 9:09 PM · Glad to hear it! I'll be fresh back from Disneyland and in need of some Disney-centric entertainment!
July 12, 2013 at 10:14 PM · Great tokyo disneyland!!
July 13, 2013 at 7:46 AM · Oohhhh even their elephants in the bathing pool look happier because they are at the Tokyo Disneyland
July 14, 2013 at 9:49 AM · If anyone's gonna do a reboot right, it's Tokyo! Sure Monsters Inc isn't a reboot over there, but it's already better than what DCA has. Same with Winnie the Pooh. Just to clarify, I know it's not just all about technology. Just because technology is better in an attraction doesn't automatically make it better overall. It's the application of said technology that makes something better.

I'd welcome changes to DLR and WDW if done right, and not just tacking on Johnny Depp in half Tonto, half Sparrow costume hanging upside down above the piranhas only to last minute be saved by a bowl of cheerios bouncing off of our skipper's face.

July 17, 2013 at 4:12 PM · The night cruise seems interesting. Based on MK's hours, it might be a good option.

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