Recently, Disney announced that their much beloved and ultra-punny opening-day attraction, Jungle Cruise, will receive a refresh in 2021. Tiki fans have begun to wonder and worry that this reimagining may bring change to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar at Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Thankfully, Walt Disney Imagineers Susana Tubert and Kevin Lively have put an end to the rumours by dishing the dirt! Here is what we can expect…

As you are probably aware, the new Jungle Cruise coming to Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park will include new characters, scenes, and a “cohesive storyline” that will “bring more humour, wildlife and skipper heart” to the attraction.

When concept art for the new Jungle Cruise surfaced it showed no signs of altering the current state of Trader Sam’s. However, that didn’t stop fans from jumping to their own conclusions. After all, given Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s recent Moana makeover, can you really blame them? It wouldn’t be this out-of-this-world to assume that change could be around the corner for this fan-favourite watering hole.

The New Jungle Cruise

The reimaged version of Jungle Cruise will pave the way for a whole host of new characters, all of whom share a connection to Alberta Falls, the granddaughter of Jungle Navigation Company founder Dr. Albert Falls.

Meet Alberta Falls, Head of the Jungle Navigation Company and Jungle Cruise Founder:

Alberta was born to globetrotting parents in 1911 (the year her grandfather, Dr. Albert Falls, founded the Jungle Navigation Company). Her mother, Sneh, was a world-renowned artist from India, and her British father, Albert Falls Jr., was an art scholar.

Rambunctious, free-spirited Alberta was sent to live with her grandfather in Adventureland at the age of 8, eventually coming to call the jungle her home and the crew members her family. Alberta also began travelling the world with Dr. Falls, finding the occasion to cross paths with some of the other new characters during their adventures.

Following the disappearance of Dr. Falls in 1930 and a decline in business, Alberta reinvented the Jungle Navigation Company as a guided tour operator, giving way to the launch of the World Famous Jungle Cruise on Oct. 1, 1931. With the Jungle Cruise business booming, Alberta opened the home office to travellers as a restaurant — the Skipper Canteen.

Supporting Cast

This iteration of Jungle Cruise will showcase several other supporting players, in addition to Alberta. As Creative Director Susan Tubert puts it “They are all a little bit eccentric in their own ways, and yet they share a history with Alberta Falls and a common interest: to have a once-in-a-lifetime immersive experience in nature.”

This merry band of misfits includes;

  • Felix Pechman XIII, Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. Skipper
  • Dr. Leonard Moss, Acclaimed Canadian Botanist –
  • Rosa Soto Dominguez, Celebrated Mexican Artist
  • Dr. Kon Chunosuke, S.E.A. Member and Japan’s Preeminent Entomologist
  • Siobhan “Puffin” Murphy

So, What About Trader Sam?

You remember Trader Sam, don’t you? Trader Sam is the jungle’s “head” salesman who lurks throughout the last leg of your journey through the jungle. He offers you a real deal, two heads for one of yours! What will become of him? Unfortunately, we still don’t know! It seems that Disney is keeping the details of their crown jewel under lock and key.

So, What About Trader Sam’s?

Part bar, park attraction – this beloved hotspot literally littered from head to heel with whimsical throwbacks that celebrate the timelessness of tiki. Yet, despite how unique, could this rum-soaked slab be on the chopping block?

Despite the closed lips that surround the bar’s namesake, Tubert did confirm that there are no changes currently planned for either tiki bar, claiming “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.”