It seemed inexplicable when Disney announced it was turning its Pirates Of The Caribbean ride into a feature film, and we all know how that turned out (the first was a hit, the second broke box office records, the fourth grossed $1 billion, and a fifth is on the way). With that precedent it’s less crazy, but still odd, that Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride is getting the Pirates treatment. According to Variety, the movie has been in the works since 2004, when the success of Pirates prompted adaptations of other plotless boat rides (here’s hoping It’s A Small World remains water-locked). Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will star, telling Variety, “Fired up about this one. Here we go.” The writer-directors of this year’s Focus, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, will write the script.
The Jungle Cruise is a boat ride held loosely together by themes of “river,” “jungle,” and “light Orientalism.” Giving visitors of the Florida theme park a taste of other hot climates far more exotic than swamplands and miles of concrete, the Jungle Cruise travels through the Amazon River, the Congo River, the Nile River, and the Mekong River, displaying exotic large animals and bizarre natives decked in colorful garb and painted faces. It’s a painfully dated ride, dating back to the 1955 Disney World opening and remaining largely unchanged since then. Lore has it that the classic film The African Queen was an inspiration, and this movie adaptation will pay homage by going back in time to set the Jungle Cruise in early ’50s Bogart-Hepburn times. One hopes the undeniable charm of Johnson and the lack of virtually any guiding plot will update the ride for the film. (The ride does contain lots of animals, a crashed plane, and a horrifying animatronic man called “Trade Sam,” who looks barbaric and carries shrunken heads, so maybe those’ll be the touchstones for the film.)
Check out the 10-minute ride below.