It looks like Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to lean into the meta with the final scene in its revamped Jungle Cruise ride. Disney just released some concept art of that scene, and it appears that Trader Sam is now running... a gift shop.
That theme park rides end with gift shops is a well-established trope in the themed entertainment design business. (Bansky lampooned this 10 years ago.) Disney is rescripting its Jungle Cruise ride to eliminate racist caricatures of indigenous people, including the headhunter Trader Sam. In the new scene, Trader Sam has converted the Jungle Cruise's lost and found into a gift shop... and is off to parts unknown "finding some new inventory."
With Trader Sam off site, the jungle animals have taken over the store, which also appears to include a new on-ride photo feature.
By eliminating Trader Sam from the scene, Disney is recasting him as a bit of a MacGuffin - a device to move along the story but that often is not revealed. In addition to running the new Jungle Cruise "gift shop," Trader Sam also runs bars at the Disneyland Hotel and Walt Disney World's Polynesian Resort, so he has become an important character in Disney's theme park storytelling.
But - other than the fact that he is the Jungle's top entrepreneur - we no longer know what this character looks like, so that creates some opportunities for future surprises. (Getting in right now to stir a rumor about Trader Sam being revealed as Alberta Falls' long-lost half sister Samantha Falls... or as Alberta Falls herself.)
Disney already revealed that it will be incorporating Falls and the Society of Explorers and Adventurers in its Jungle Cruise reboot. Remember that Alberta Falls' role in Disney's SEA story is converting her grandfather's jungle riverboat delivery company into a tourist attraction. So the new story here seems to be less about the perils of the jungle itself, but the perils of running a jungle-themed attraction.
Which Disney has become quite the expert on, hasn't it?
The new Jungle Cruise will debut later this year at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and at Disneyland. For discounted tickets to the Disneyland theme parks, please visit our travel partner's Disneyland tickets page.
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