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.
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.
“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.