Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Ah, yes. The ever famous and enjoyable Pirates of the Caribbean. One of Walt’s original dark rides that lives on today.
This ride, or should I say the original ride which opened in Disney Land in California was the last attraction that Walt oversaw before his death three months later.
This original dark ride has all of the aspects you would expect to see in a ride named after pirates. First and foremost, it is a boat ride. You sit in your small boat which holds 5 or so rows of fellow mates. As you meander through the ride you are shown mermaids, skeletons, and shipwrecks.
In addition, you see firsthand the battle with Captain Barbosa and the village. Your boat slides quietly through the battle as canon balls fly overhead and splash water into your boat. This epic battle is the first memorable sight on the ride for me.
After, you float on through the village scene where they are actively looking for captain Jack Sparrow. If you look carefully you can see him hiding behind a wall overseeing the questioning of a villager.
Next up, you float to the auction. At this point you now see an historic change to the ride. Originally, this is the location for the auction of wenches. Yes, I said it. But in todays society, this is not politically correct, so is now has been altered to reflect the sale of chickens and other household needs. And yes, it is now run by “The Redhead”. The one in the same that was the original wench being sold off for rum. While this has all changed the context, the ride still remains true and the scene is still iconic with pirates spread about, most of them drunk and dirty, trying to buy the goods.
As you stroll through this, you come upon another pirate with a map to the lost treasure. We always need a treasure map. Behind this figure is Captain Jack Sparrow, in a barrel. He is bobbin up and down, looking at the map and situation. You can imagine how he is planning to obtain the all important map.
Floating further on , you see pirates being chased by maids, with broom. Originally, this was the complete opposite, but as time has changed, so did the scene to reflect a stronger position of women. Also around this point you see the village, lit on fire. Totally engulfed. You can almost feel the heat.
Now, we float up to the iconic jail scene. Here we have our convicts behind bars. They are whistling and calling the dog, who is just out of reach with the keys, to come on over so they can try to obtain their freedom. But to no avail, this never seems to happen.
Rounding the bend, you see Captain Jack in a treasure room, sitting in a chair. With gold and Jewels all around, he is drinking and singing. Yes, Jack is in his element.
Now you’ve come to the end of the ride and you are greeted by a cast member who helps you off the ride and back to shore.
That’s the summary of the ride here in Walt Disney World. The original version in Disney Land is slightly different in some areas of the story telling, but they are both very similar. One main difference is the Disney Land version is somewhat longer. This is due to it original version overseen by Walt. The one in Disney World was basically an afterthought.
Originally, when Disney World opened, there was not a plan to have the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Adventure land or anywhere else in the park. However after the tremendous outpouring from guests who desperately wanted to see is in Florida, Disney decided to add the ride. It was promptly installed into a location that had been slated for another themed attraction to fit the area. So basically they only had so much space and they had to shorten the original to make it work and fit into the existing footprint.
Even so, Pirates of the Caribbean is considered an iconic ride for its extreme theming and storytelling. In addition its technical advances, the use of many animatronic figures, It remains a beloved fan favorite to this day. To the point that we all dread the days that it is down for refurbishing. This always seems to happen when we don’t want it, but Disney has a schedule that they maintain. Basically, it doesn’t matter if it is peak season or off season, when it is time, the ride goes down.
Now one item that I want the put out there that I feel is amazing and increases your experience on this ride, is the use of live cast members playing rolls along the ride. We experienced this last year, 2019 for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. They put real live pirates in the ride. They would interact with the guests, sing and ask you questions. This gave a new perspective to the ride that we really felt worked in a positive way. They were located in areas such as the Jail Cells in the ride que, One the bridge, and along the village. We do hope that they bring this back and even make it a fulltime experience.
So to sum up, this is always an awesome experience and is a ride that we visit every time we are in Magic Kingdom. The nostalgia and the creative play in this ride are unparalleled and you can see why it is a fan favorite. Also, you can almost always get on this ride. In this day of FASTPASSES, we very seldom waste a selection on Pirates of the Caribbean as the wait times are usually under 30 minutes. Even at that, the ride que is immersive enough that you find the time flies.
This is a ride that every Disney fan needs to experience. It is one of the many memorable experiences that make the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World the park that one always needs to visit.