Pirates of the Caribbean
As you enter the Magic Kingdom and head down Main Street USA if you are looking for adventure take a left at Casey’s Corner and head towards Adventureland. Adventureland has two rides that were E Ticket rides when such things were still used. One is the Jungle Cruise. The other is Pirates of the Caribbean.
Even if you have never been to Disney World you have probably heard of Pirates of the Caribbean. How could you miss it after four films that made almost four billion dollars? You are probably even aware that the film took its inspiration from the theme park attraction.
What you may not realize is that if you rode the ride you might recognize some scenes from the first movie and even some characters. Subsequent movies also borrowed a line or in one case even some of the soundtrack from the ride. If, having seen the movies, you expect to experience the movie in the ride you will be sorely disappointed though. Some scenes have been modified and added to the ride in tribute to the movies but it’s still not a ride through of the movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean was not originally intended to be part of the Magic Kingdom. Walt thought it would not be exciting or exotic enough for people who were living so close to the Caribbean themselves. Guests who experienced the ride at Disneyland disagreed though and began to demand that the Pirates dock in the Magic Kingdom.
Instead imagineers envisioned a western themed area called Western River Expedition. This area would have included a dark ride, hiking trails and a roller coaster. This attraction would have been built where Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain are today. Guests, however, wanted Pirates so plans for the Western River Expedition were put on hold and then because Pirates took up so much of the proposed budget eventually scrapped.
When imagineers turned to adding Pirates to the Magic Kingdom they did not do a complete recreation of the Disneyland version. Either because of space, time or budget there were several changes made and the Magic Kingdom version is shorter than its predecessor and among those who have experienced both they say it is inferior. I have never made the trip to Disneyland so I cannot offer an opinion on which is better.
I can say that Pirates of the Caribbean has earned its place as an E ticket ride. I ride it every time I find myself in the Magic Kingdom and sometimes multiple times in a day.
Like almost everything Disney there is a story behind the ride. As you enter the building it is not just any building but an old Spanish fort, Castillo Del Moro. Guests enter through the Torre Del Sol. The façade of the building is a great recreation of a Spanish fort modeled after the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro in the Old San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Besides the impressive stone walls, gates cannons and muskets one of the first things I notice entering the building is that is cool! That alone makes the ride great after hours in the Florida sun. You can also catch music and the sounds of fighting.
Usually the line for Pirates moves pretty fast which is good. There is no Fastpass option for the ride. The ride itself is the typical Disney dark ride. You join the crew of a 30 passenger boat for a tour of a mostly successful pirate raid on a fictional 16th century town.
The ride begins once you join your crew and set sail. The first thing you will encounter will be either a ghostly apparition of Davy Jones or Captain Blackbeard himself(Blackbeard is rumored to be only a temporary part of the ride.) Next you get the famous dead men tell no tales scene complete with a skeleton or two. This is the audio that was lifted for the At World’s End movie. Then it’s a short drop in the dark to find yourself in the middle of a battle between Captain Barbossa and the town he is trying to sack. Be careful of the cannonballs! There are very few direct hits but there is a danger someone in your crew may be splashed a little.
You will also encounter an auction for the fair ladies of said town and an attempt to get the mayor to reveal a secret. Be on the lookout for Captain Jack Sparrow. You will also see a pirate or two in the jail trying to coax the keys from the jailhouse dog. This scene was borrowed for The Curse of the Black Pearl. The keen observer will find Mr Gibb’s inspiration in one scene with a pirate passed out with the pigs.
After touring the town and getting to hear a rousing chorus of It’s A Pirates Life For Me you will find Captain Sparrow one last time as he joins in the singing.
Finally your tour of duty is over and you will exit the ship to be given the standard opportunity to gather some booty of your own in the gift shop. I do not recommend trying to pirate the goods though. Use money please.
While this ride may lack the splash of Splash Mountain or the thrill of the other two mountains in the Magic Kingdom it is a must see. The animatronics are great and the music is compelling but not nearly as annoying as It’s A Small World. The ride is definitely child friendly. The pirates are portrayed as more comical then fearsome. Check it out if you haven’t already. If you have leave a comment about your favorite part.