While these changes may take the wind out of the sails of many Disney fans, others have been calling for changes to the Jungle Cruise in light of new societal efforts to remove remnants of racial stereotyping.
Those calling for these changes cite the adage “Disneyland is not a museum” (which is applied to Walt Disney World) in defense of those opposing the changes to maintain historical portions of attractions. The Florida Trader Sam character was specifically created by legendary Disney Imagineer Marc Davis and has been a staple of the ride for nearly 50 years.
Trader Sam was a portrayal of a headhunter selling shrunken heads. This practice can be dated back to the early 1900s, and by the 1930s, the sale of shrunken heads was largely prohibited. The ritual was primarily a religious practice for several indigenous cultures, and most heads sold to tourists and museums were actually fake. For those in favor of the removal, Trader Sam’s portrayal is often represented as a perpetuation of the stereotype of indigenous cultures as “savages.”
Stay tuned to WDWNT for more updates on the changes coming to the Jungle Cruise.