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Jungle Cruise’s Trader Sam is gone — for now; Disney still says no plans to update Trader Sam’s

by Brooke Geiger McDonald

Changes are underway on Disney’s Jungle Cruise, the iconic opening-day attraction at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. In an Instagram post on Saturday, April 3, Walt Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley shared that a phased approach to the ride’s updates would soon be underway, and the ride opened Monday morning at Magic Kingdom with a notable absence: Trader Sam is gone.

Trader Sam Audio- Animatronics
Trader Sam, as he used to appear in the Jungle Cruise at Walt Disney World.
Photo by Brooke Geiger McDonald

In our recent interview about the changes coming to Jungle Cruise for our Spring issue, we talked to Walt Disney Imagineers Susana Tubert and Kevin Lively about the planned updates to the attraction and asked what the ride’s reimagining could mean for Trader Sam, the jungle’s “head” salesman who appeared near the end of the ride and lends his name to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar at Walt Disney World. While they did not elaborate on how the character within the ride might be addressed, Tubert did confirm there are no changes currently planned for the eponymous tiki bars, both of which remain closed due to the pandemic.

Photo of the spot where Trader Sam used to be located. Photo by LaughingPlace.com
This photo, provided by Laughing Place, shows the spot where Trader Sam used to be located in the Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom.

“As far as Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Resort and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Walt Disney World Resort, no plans are on the way to update them currently,” Tubert said.

In light of Trader Sam’s disappearance at Magic Kingdom this week, we reached back out to Disney to check in on Trader Sam’s fate. Disney reiterated there are still no planned changes to the Trader Sam’s locations . Of the Audio-Animatronics figure at the end of the ride, they had this to say:

“As part of the changes we previously announced, we are addressing negative depictions of natives in the attraction. We look forward to sharing more about the finale to the enhanced storyline and final scene very soon.”

Riddley confirmed Disney is taking a phased approach to the Jungle Cruise reboot, updating scenes “over the next several months” while the attraction remains open. Tubert and Lively previously shared detailed descriptions of the ride’s new characters and their backstories with us and we’ll be looking out for them to appear as the ride updates continue to be revealed. You can also read more about the new characters on the My Disney Experience app.

As for Trader Sam and the ride’s new finale, it remains to be seen whether Disney will announce the updated storyline or let guests see for themselves when they ride Jungle Cruise.

Do you think Trader Sam will be part of the new Jungle Cruise finale or is he gone for good? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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31 comments

Orman B April 7, 2021 - 11:27 am

Disney has succumbed to the “woke” culture. Everyone already knows they were huge in making propaganda films for World War II. They continue to push garbage government agendas. “Divide & Conquer” is all they do to keep us all separated under silly “group” titles. All the while, stripping the single uniting title we have together… Americans…
They will not bring back Trader Sam as black. They are deleting black people everywhere. THAT is offensive. TS will come back as some kind of sexually confused pervert that plays with kids. This culture is ok with that… Just another person that will not step foot in a Disney park ever again

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EE April 8, 2021 - 2:32 am

It’s hilarious that you believe what you just said lmao

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Kathi April 26, 2021 - 12:49 pm

Grow up Disney, it was an icon of a fantasy ride!

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Longtime Disney Fan April 23, 2021 - 10:02 pm

Remember, Mickey AND Minnie Mouse are black!

Lots of studios made war propaganda films. It was considered patriotic to do whatever you could to help in the war effort, because it quite literally WAS a WORLD WAR. Many studios kept open BECAUSE of those films. It was a dark time for everyone.

With regard to being upset at changes, I guess you think they shouldn’t have put Johnny Depp in multiple places in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, or taken out the pirates auctioning the wenches, or the fat wench chasing the pirate?

You should appreciate the fact that “It’s a Small World” still has it’s various ethnic dolls. I somehow doubt that ride would be of interest to you.

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NPFO April 25, 2021 - 4:26 am

WW2 we were fighting fascist,we were against them. We were Anti them you could say, Antifascist, or Antifa, for short.

But I’m sure you want Disney to return to Walt’s Hitler loving time. Walt hated unions and was convince they were a Jewish Bolshevik plot, just like Hitler said the USSR, France, and England were.

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Michelle R April 7, 2021 - 5:46 pm

I myself am fine with the change. Change is part of growth. For those looking at it in a negative way…it is obvious that they have never been discriminated against. Trader Sam will probably be dressed in better taste and remain within the Jungle Cruise ride, but if not that is okay. In my opinion I don’t believe Walt Disney ever had intentions of discriminating against anyone. In fact Disneyland was meant for EVERYONE to enjoy. It doesn’t matter your color, race, religious beliefs, financial status…It’s a Small World After All. My family is a Disney family and we will continue to enjoy everything Disney has to offer.

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Ty April 21, 2021 - 12:10 pm

I’ve been discriminated against throughout the course of my entire life, and I’m still not offended by the Jungle Cruise, Trader Sam or over the things that everyone else is. It’s not seeing it in a negative way because those that want those things changed were actually the ones seeing it in a negative way. You have to tip toe carefully around those types of people.

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Randy Rickard May 6, 2021 - 4:33 pm

So sad but true

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Jimmy Laslo April 7, 2021 - 10:42 pm

I don’t like the way white people are portrayed in the pirates of the Caribbean. Can that be changed too please?

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Justtalking2u April 25, 2021 - 12:47 pm

Jimmy Laslo, you say “I don’t like the way white people are portrayed in the pirates of the Caribbean. Can that be changed too please?” I believe it has been changed in a few small ways to be more tasteful. I hope you are pleased by that.

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Randy Rickard May 2, 2021 - 12:53 pm

Awesome point!!!

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No April 8, 2021 - 1:52 am

How is it offensive to portray an obvious fact that 100 years ago Africans were still living in the stone age again?

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Tiki Shawn April 12, 2021 - 3:14 pm

Some things shouldn’t be taken away completely. Maybe upgrade them a bit but leave them for the most part. Trader Sam is an icon. Getting rid of him would mean they have actually won! Keep him! Put some Burmudas on him and a few island tattoos. Some Ray Bans on the shrunkin heads and viola. New and improved. Everyone knows shrunkin heads won’t wear Ray Bans so it will all work out.

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Salena April 24, 2021 - 3:46 pm

They weren’t. That’s the problem, you grow up seeing these things and believe them to be reality. Do some research about historical Africa. Some amazing technology and civilizations there, more advanced than European during different parts of history. It’s a historical ebb and flow and to say TS represents Africans 100 years ago because they lived in the stone age is pure l of education and bias

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Randy Rickard May 2, 2021 - 1:43 pm

Amen!

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Risperdal Brun April 8, 2021 - 7:14 am

As a DVC member for 15 years I am seriously considering selling it. I adored Song of the South and other Disney gems as a kid and now I am being told I am racist. Erasing history because one person is offended is offensive and ridiculous. I have spent enough money in WDW to buy a Ferrari. Do any of the people you are trying to appease spend that? DISNEY’S rewrite of history and their wokeness will fail. Just like they ruined Star Wars

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Dirk Disco April 8, 2021 - 10:46 am

I’m Caucasian and I’ve been discriminated against countless times in Japan. Trader Sam should stay!

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RickTR April 9, 2021 - 9:29 pm

It’s funny that the bottom man on the new totem pole, about to be gored, is a white male while everyone about him are “men/women of color”. That just about represents how Disney feels about white males these days. The natives on the Jungle Cruise were based on actual tribes, but of course we have to change that. As far as Trader Sam, God forbid we should have a little humor. I am sick of people being offended about everything, especially since the people who complain never go to Disneyland anyway. Since the woke crowd got Disney to bend a knee, there is no stopping them. Look for revisions of Peter Pan, Tiki Room, and Small World next. I’m glad Tokyo Disneyland told the suits that they weren’t changing anything on the ride.

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Randy Rickard May 2, 2021 - 1:51 pm

Makes you sick that every one get offended so easily

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Joe Allocco April 11, 2021 - 9:43 am

This is absolutely ridiculous! I understand the need to update the mechanics and artwork of a ride, but to totally make changes to historical and classic Disney rides and films is absolutely ridiculous! The reason people come to Disney with families, children, grandchildren and friends is to revisit memories they share together and make new ones. Yes, there was actually headhunters in the world (jungle Cruise) and yes history did have slavery in the world. (Song of the South) and they did a great job showing the representation of this throughout their history. Some of what I learned from these rides and films peaked my curiosity and I wanted to learn more about history. That was a good thing. So now Disney is on board with slowly erasing all historically correct areas in time and must love the changes we’re making now in this era. I’m sure they love all the political statues being torn down all around the Country too. Again, totally ridiculous! This is why I love universal studios so much! They not so “politically” correct and focus more on the entertainment values and imagination of their visitors. I haven’t been to Disney in 5 years because of Their views, but haven’t stopped going to Universal Studios. Growing up in Florida from 1973 and seeing every change Disney went through since then till now is unreal. I’ve been to Disney about 90 times in my lifetime. I’m Done with it. They’ve now gone too far with their Political correctness and I’m sure it’ll only get a lot worse.

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Justtalking2u April 25, 2021 - 1:02 pm

Risperdal Brunn, take it easy. It’s an amusement park. Times advance and evolve. It will be okay.

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Corey April 13, 2021 - 11:34 am

Bad stuff happened in the past. We, as people, did some messed up stuff, said some messed up things. The only way we’ll move on from there, is if educate and leave be. Now, im in no place to have a deeper opinion than that- HOWEVER, somethings are the way they are- BECAUSE THAT”S THE WAY IT WAS. Erasing it, does not change a thing….- Hey, remember when the Pirates used to drink, smoke, chase women, steal, etc? IM IN NO WAY CONDONING ANY OF THESE BEHAVIORS- But that is a pirate. That is what they did. Historically. They weren’t eye-liner wearing, bad British accent having, dainty lads. I mean, they even changed the change they made. (after putting in Sparrow, they felt as though his hands on two dress form’s butts while hiding in the shadows was a bit too racey and changed that too!) A sexually driven pirate?! How dare he! Point being- Can we PLEASE leave well enough alone?

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Randy Rickard May 2, 2021 - 1:53 pm

Amen!

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Kdm April 24, 2021 - 1:50 am

Some of these comments are beyond ignorant.

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Ned April 25, 2021 - 1:44 am

Just make trader sam white and be done with it

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Randy Rickard May 2, 2021 - 1:21 pm

Yep like all the pirates in pirates of the Caribbean

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Frankly April 25, 2021 - 10:53 am

This stupid world jusr keep getting nicer and nicer. It makes me so mad! lol

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Justtalking2u April 25, 2021 - 12:34 pm

A character at Disney World had his hands on butts, and you’re offended by removing that gesture? That is weird.

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Justtalking2u April 25, 2021 - 12:37 pm

My reply was to Corey, not Frankly.

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Cheyenne April 26, 2021 - 1:03 pm

Walt Disney was, of course, a proud American man with every advantage. With his cultural upbringing came many of the shared misconceptions and stereotypes of the time period.

Changes, like the removal of the utterly offensive Trader Sam, frankly, are overdue.

The controversial matter of Song of the South is plain. The movie misrepresented the African American slave experience and African Americans in general. That should be enough for adults to refrain from the hyperbolic commentary and childish backlash. Why? Because you are not the butt of the joke and you will never know what it feels like to see your culture or race portrayed in that particular way in a park that is meant to be “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

I am in full support of all of Disney’s recent changes. It shows that they truly do care about the comfort of ALL their guests and cast members, even if it does turn away a few Disney adults with deep pockets.

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Randy Rickard May 2, 2021 - 1:40 pm

You are aware that there were very black head hunters in the Congo. And saying that I guess I need to be offended by pirates of the Caribbean as I look at all the white people doing all those bad things? You must want to live in fantasy land and deny the past. I know how blacks were treated in the past is wrong but trader Sam was a plastic object why does that offend anyone that has intelligence?

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