|Pirates of the Caribbean|
|Locations and opening dates|
|Disneyland||March 18 1967|
|Magic Kingdom||December 15 1973|
|Tokyo Disneyland||April 15 1983|
|Disneyland Paris||April 12 1992|
The last attraction in which Walt Disney himself had participated in the design, but never experienced, since it opened three months after his death. It is located within the New Orleans Square portion of Disneyland, its facade evoking antebellum New Orleans, topped by a 31-star United States flag (which would indicate the 1850s). An overhead sign at the boat dock names it for the famous pirate Jean Lafitte (although his name is misspelled Laffite), who fought alongside the U.S. Army at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. The second floor of the facade was originally designed to be a private Disney family apartment. Instead it later open as an art-related retail/museum space called the Disney Gallery until late 2007 when it was replaced by the Disney Dream Suite.
During the course of the indoor boat ride, guests float through an immersing, larger-than-life pirate adventure featuring gunshots, cannon blasts, and burning buildings, all set to pirates carousing and pillaging while accompanied by "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" written by George Bruns and X Atencio.
Originally envisioned in the late 1950s as a walk-through wax museum featuring pirates from history, the attraction evolved into a boat ride through complex show scenes filled with Audio-Animatronics characters after the 1964 New York World's Fair, which brought about several advances in Disney's theme park technologies. Instead, humorous sketches of fictional pirates by Imagineer Marc Davis inspired the animatronic diorama seen throughout the final attraction.
The portrait of the female pirate above the bar in the Crews Quarters scene is an original work by Davis. The pirate captain in the scene where captured women are auctioned as brides is a test bed for updates and developments to Audio-Animatronic technology; many innovations are tried on him first. As a result, his movements are far more lifelike and expressive than virtually any other Audio-Animatronics figure in all of Disneyland.
The ride never was intended to be part of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort because of concerns that it would not be exotic enough due to Florida's geographic proximity to the Caribbean and New Orleans, the settings of the Disneyland attraction. Instead, Imagineers developed plans for a similar attraction called the Western River Expedition, which would have featured cowboys and Indians instead as well as banditos, coyotes, miners, and a climatic drop bigger than Pirates. After many Walt Disney World guests complained about the lack of Disney's celebrated pirate attraction, an abbreviated version opened in Florida on December 15 1973.
The attraction was part of the opening day of Tokyo Disneyland (April 15 1983) and of Disneyland Paris (April 12 1992). There is no Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, but there are plans to add it in the near future with some Splash Mountain-style elements.
The ride begins amid glimmering fireflies during an evening abuzz with the croaking of a bullfrog in a quaint Louisiana Bayou. Daring adventurers board their boats at Laffite's Landing, and are at once afloat in the heart of bayou country. On one side is an actual working restaurant, The Blue Bayou, made to look like the backyard dinner party of a southern plantation.
Once past several rickety houseboats, the soft strumming of banjo melodies (including "Oh! Susanna" and "Camptown Races") can be heard over the peaceful symphony of nature as guests pass by one houseboat, on the porch of which an old man calmly rocks back and forth in his rocking chair. But then a talking skull and crossbones above an archway provides this taunting warning:
Then a more chilling sound becomes audible: the thundering of a waterfall, down which guests plunge. When they reach the bottom of the waterfall guests then get to enjoy the theme for the ride briefly. Then they hear the frightening echo of: "Dead men tell no tales!"
After a second hair-raising plunge (absent at Tokyo) further into the depths of an underground grotto, guests behold the skeletal remains of an unfortunate band of pirates, guarding their loot and treasure with macabre delight.
The boats glide gently past a thunderstorm tossing an old pirate ship about, though the captain driving the ship is nothing more than a skeleton. The boats pass through the Crews Quarters, complete with skeletal pirates playing chess, the captain looking up treasure on his map, an old Harpsichord playing the theme, and a huge amount of treasure being guarded by another skeleton pirate. The Aztec chest from Pirates of the Caribbean:The Curse of the Black Pearl sits in the corner of the Treasure Room and is the last thing guests see before entering a dark tunnel.
A waterfall with a projection of Davy Jones then appears, and the riders seem to float through without getting wet. He invites guests to proceed if "they be brave or fool enough to face a pirate's curse".
Suddenly, cannonballs whistle overhead and explosions throw water into the air — a fierce battle between a marauding pirate galleon and a Caribbean fortress is in full swing. Captain Barbossa leads the assault from the deck of a pirate vessel named the Wicked Wench, while The Medallion Calls also used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies plays. From the deck of the Wicked Wench Barbossa yells: "Strike yer colors ye bloomin cockroachers. By thunder we'll see you to Davy Jones. They need persuasion mates. Fire at will! Pound 'em lads! Pound em'!" When a cannon is shot, guests may feel a powerful blast of air coming from the cannon.
The village on the Isla Tesoro beyond is overrun with pirates in search of the Town Treasure. The first sight is the town square where some pirates have kidnapped the mayor and threaten to drown him in the well if he doesn't tell where the Treasure is. The mayor's wife tells the mayor to be brave and not talk, but the attempts are useless; she is shot at as the mayor continues to repeatedly get dunked in the water, while several other city officials tied up look on. Captain Jack Sparrow is seen hiding behind some dresses looking to see if anyone sees him. Followed by that is the famous auction scene where a pirate Auctioneer auctions off the town women while the drunk bidders hoot and holler for a redhead who is next up for bids. But unfortunately for them, the only person the Auctioneer wants to sell at the moment is an overweight forty-year-old that seems not to care what the others think of her. The next scene is the chase where pirates run around holding treasure, chasing girls, and two foolish buccaneers have stolen some snacks and are chased by an angry woman holding a rolling pin. Just beyond is the infamous "pooped pirate" drunkenly waving a map and key to a treasure vault, boasting that Captain Jack Sparrow will never see it. Little does he know, Jack is hiding in a barrel just behind him, popping out and getting a good look at the map over the pirate's shoulder.
Carefree, tipsy pirates succeed in ravaging the town and setting it aflame, filling the night air with an orange glow. Riders next float past a jail where imprisoned pirates are doing their best to escape as flames draw near. A small dog just out of the prisoners' reach holds the key to their escape in his teeth; he seems all but immune to the pleas of the pirates trying to coax him closer. Timbers are smoldering and cracking overhead as riders sail through a storage room filled with gunpowder, cannon balls, and rum-filled, gun-shooting pirates singing "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life For Me". A shootout between the inebriated crew and captain of the pirate ship in a flaming ammunition warehouse threatens to demolish the entire village.
Finally, Jack Sparrow is seen in a room full of the hidden treasure. Slightly drunk (as usual), he is draped over a large throne-like chair and waves his new treasures around happily while chattering to himself (and passing guests). Every once in a while he will sing "Drink up me hearties yo ho!". At Tokyo and Florida a small parrot talks with him. Riders then return to the sleepy bayou where the journey began.
In its original form, the Disneyland attraction contained a scene in which pirates were shown chasing attractive females in circles (achieved by simply placing figures on rotating platforms hidden below guests' view), along with a comical reversal in which an overweight woman was seen chasing a pirate. Some guests were offended by this depiction, and in response Disney initially changed the woman chasing the pirate by having her try to hit him with a rolling pin. In 1997, this sequence was changed so that the pirates pursued women holding pies, and the large woman is chasing a pirate with a stolen ham.
Originally, one overweight pirate (sometimes known as the "Pooped Pirate") was shown exhausted from his pursuit of an unwilling teenaged female. He brandished a petticoat as guests floated past, and uttered suggestive dialogue, including: "It's sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench," and "I be willing to share, I be." Behind him, the woman he had been pursuing would peer out from her hiding place inside a barrel. This scene was altered in the American parks, but it remains unchanged in the version at Disneyland Paris.
These modifications garnered criticism from longtime fans and some of the attraction's original Imagineers; in Jason Surrell's book Pirates of the Caribbean: From The Magic Kingdom to the Movies, showwriter Francis Xavier "X" Atencio referred to these "softening" touches as "Boy Scouts of the Caribbean".
In 2006, Walt Disney Imagineering debuted refurbishments at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean feature films to coincide with the release of the second movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. With the recent revisions of the ride to incorporate features from the movie, Disney has completely done away with the sequence of women being chased by pirates. Instead, one turntable features two pirates running in a circle, each holding one end of a treasure chest (taken from the aforementioned Magic Kingdom modification). In another, a woman is chasing a pirate who is making off with some stolen pies. In the third, a woman is chasing a pirate while menacing him with a weapon. The "Pooped Pirate" character is now brandishing a map and the key to the town's Treasure Room, while Captain Jack Sparrow stealthily observes him from inside the barrel.
The refurbishments also included other Audio-Animatronic figures of Captain Jack Sparrow, and one of Hector Barbossa (who replaced Blackbeard as captain of the Wicked Wench ship), along with new special effects, improved lighting and audio, and an appearance by the films' supernatural character Davy Jones, all voiced by the original actors (Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Bill Nighy). The skeleton beach and hurricane scenes are now accompanied by a quiet, mysterious instrumental version of "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" and a re-recorded part of a cue from Klaus Badelt's score to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl now underscores the Battle Scene. The Disneyland version also features a new final "lift scene". When the boats are being lifted back to ground level, guests pass by an Audio-Animatronic figure of a tipsy Jack Sparrow relaxing and humming bits of the theme song amongst a collection of treasure. A similar scene replaces the Treasure Room scene at the end of the Magic Kingdom version of the ride. Smaller modifications have been made to coincide with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. In the first treasure room, in the pirate's grotto, the chest of cursed Aztec gold from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl can be seen at the far right. In the skeletal bar room, in the very back of the room, Elizabeth Swann's discarded dress from Dead Man's Chest is visible. Also, portraits of Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa have been added to the pirate portraits that line the inside walls of the lobby at the Disneyland attraction.
In addition, the outdoor portion queue has been substantially changed since the Disneyland attraction's opening. The queue was originally all indoors, beginning at the doors that enter the ride's first show building. Lines of people frequently spread out into the entire walkway, creating a human barrier separating New Orleans Square, Tom Sawyer Island and Critter Country from the remainder of Disneyland, the walkway in front of Pirates of the Caribbean being the only access to these areas except for the Disneyland Railroad. In 1987, Disney decided that the ride's popularity necessitated a reorganized, permanent collection of switchbacks outside. A hole was dug in the original walkway, forming a lower patio for the queue's switchbacks. A bridge was then built over the patio so that passersby could continue past the attraction without having to fight their way through people in line on crowded days. Today, guests in line for the attraction walk through an archway beneath the bridge, through switchbacks in the patio, and eventually continue up curved ramps that lead back up to ground level and the building entrance itself. Severe crowding can result in the queue being rerouted into the small courtyard east of the main entrance, adjacent to the jungles of Adventureland, and/or into additional temporary switchbacks along the front of the bridge on the Haunted Mansion side of the arch. During the 1997 refurbishment, a 30th anniversary plaque and decorative fountain were installed against the back wall of the courtyard.
At Walt Disney World, the Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial is a special event that takes place daily in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The character of Captain Jack Sparrow holds court in enlisting budding pirates to join his crew. Alongside Captain Jack is Mack, his faithful crewman. Together they teach the audience how to be a pirate. The time of the performances can be found on the Magic Kingdom's schedule.
A computer game (by Akella), loosely connected to the first movie's plot, was released to coincide with the film. Port Royal, a world based on the Pirates of the Caribbean films, appears in the Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts II.
In 2000, Pirates of the Caribbean II: Battle for Buccaneer Gold , opened at DisneyQuest at Florida's Walt Disney World Resort. On this attraction, up to five players board a virtual pirate ship to sail around a small 3-D world. Players may fire cannons at other virtual pirate ships; if opposing ships are sunk, their treasure will be "stolen".
Video game developer Ron Gilbert has often said that the ambience for the Monkey Island computer game series was partially inspired by the Disney attraction. One obvious homage is the prison scene in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, in which a key-carrying dog is named Walt after Walt Disney.
On May 25th, 2007, Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer's Island opened at the Disneyland Resort. It features new caves and a Captain Jack Sparrow meeting area. The island also featured a 2-part show which began with a 20-minute set by "The Bootstrappers" (the island's very own pirate band) and concluded with a 20-minute stunt show starring the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow. As of January 6th, 2008, the stunt show was removed and now only "The Bootstrappers" remain.
A version of "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" can be heard in several Disney theme park fireworks shows: