Exactly a year after Jungle Cruise‘s previous July 24, 2020 release date, the Disney movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt had its world premiere Saturday night at the place where it all began — Disneyland.
Johnson, also a producer on the film, in an on-stage speech paid tribute to Walt Disney who opened the Anaheim park in July 1955 with the Jungle Cruise ride as one of its original attractions.
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Disney pulled out all the stops for the Jungle Cruise premiere which temporarily closed a handful of rides and canceled fireworks on Saturday while giving regular park goers a chance to see the stars of the movie, led by Johnson and Blunt who took the Jungle Cruise ride before hitting the red carper at the Fantasyland Theater.
One of the first big Hollywood film premieres since moviegoing restarted this spring following a yearlong Covid-related theater shutdown, the Jungle Cruise opener marked the first major public event for many of the attendees who had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR Covid test. The premiere brought back a sense of normalcy with most movie premiere staples returning intact — from a fan pen and multiple interview stops on the red carpet for the cast, to character costume display and multiple photo ops for guests, to buckets of popcorn — and a nearly hour late screening start.
Except for riding the shuttle from the parking lot to the park, no masks were required. Only handful of attendees — and the majority of Disney staffers — were seen wearing face coverings, including young children who are not currently eligible for a Covid vaccine.
To safely achieve the look and feel of a grand movie premiere from the pre-Covid era with the pandemic still in effect, Jungle Cruise was an entirely outdoor event, from the red carpet, to the open-air Fantasyland Theater to the reception on the streets of Adventureland after the park had closed for the day at 10 PM. (In Los Angeles County, where most of the premiere guests were from, there is a new mask mandate triggered by the new Delta variant only for indoor gatherings; there are no mask guidelines during the current fourth Covid wave for Orange County, where Disneyland is located.)
The long-gestating Jungle Cruise movie adaptation, which went through multiple incarnations over the past 17 years, was originally slated for pre-pandemic October 19 2019 release. It was pushed to July 24, 2020 and subsequently postponed to July 30 2021 because of Covid.
Johnson and Blunt took the stage to address the guests at the premiere and posed for a “big selfie” with the audience (Main photo above) “We wanted to make a movie that was really the adventure of a lifetime, it was more than a tagline for us,” Johnson told the crowd. “It was something we wanted to deliver to families around the world in hopes that they had a good time. We hope that achieved our goal.”
In a departure from the traditional Hollywood premieres of the past, there was no dinner served at the post-screening party — a challenge to pull off safely during a pandemic — with guests treated to Disneyland desert staples they can eat on the go, churros, Dole whip and Mickey Mouse ice cream and cotton candy.
The only indoor activities included in the premiere itinerary were the Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean rides which, along with Jungle Cruise of course — were open for guests during the party that stretched well past midnight, with a walk through the empty streets of Disneyland also on most attendees’ to-do list.
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