Disney World has brought back a part of a classic ride for the first time in 49 years. Over the weekend, riders at Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise spotted animatronic frogs near the beginning of the ride. These frogs were originally designed by Disney Legend Marc Davis for the Disney World version of Jungle Cruise, but were pulled after less than a year due to complaints by a Disney Parks executive for looking "hokey." While the frogs themselves were removed, sound effects for the frogs could still be heard near the Inspiration Falls area of the ride. Since the frogs disappeared, they had become a bit of missing history for Disney Parks lovers, with at least one historian tracking down every bit of known footage of the frogs during their brief time on the ride.
No reason was given for the frog's mysterious reintroduction to the Jungle Cruise, but they could be a parting gift from former Disney Imagineer Kevin Lively. Lively was a former skipper on the Jungle Cruise ride before becoming a Disney Imagineer and even made an appearance on the Disney+ show Behind The Attraction discussing his love of the ride. Lively recently announced that he was leaving Disney due to the Imagineering department's move from California to Lake Nona, Florida, and it seems that he made one final contribution to one of his favorite rides before departing.
The Jungle Cruise attraction is a Disney parks original, having first been conceived by Walt Disney himself during the planning of Disneyland. While Disney originally wanted the ride to include live animals, he switched to animatronics after realizing that the animals would likely sleep throughout the day when visitors were at the park. Originally, the ride was supposed to be a "straight" visit through a fictional cruise, but the infamous skipper gags were later added to help zest up the ride and added a level of charm that has turned it into a Disney parks favorite. Earlier this year, Disney released a Jungle Cruise movie based on the ride starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt.