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Pirates of the Caribbean
Yo Ho! Yo Ho!.jpg

Opened

December 15, 1973

Land

Adventureland

Designer

WED Enterprises

Ride length

8:30 minutes

Pirates of the Caribbean is a dark ride at the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World. This was the last attraction which Walt Disney himself participated in designing. It was originally envisioned to be a walk-through wax museum attraction. During the course of the indoor boat ride, guests float through an immersive, larger-than-life pirate adventure featuring gunshots, cannon blasts, burning buildings, and carousing and pillaging pirates, all accompanied by the now-iconic song, "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)," written by George Bruns and Xavier Atencio.

Ride Description

The attraction, guarded by the Caribbean watchtower Torre del Sol, is housed in a golden Spanish fort called Castillo Del Morro, inspired by Castillo de San Felipe del Morro in the Old San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Inside, the Blue Bayou has been replaced by Pirate's Cove, and the boat goes into a short grotto with Blackbeard, skeletons of dead pirates, the hurricane lagoon, and an echoing "Dead men tell no tales." There is no treasure room sequence as found in other parks. Following the plunge down one waterfall, the remainder of the ride is similar to Tokyo and California. Unlike in California, however, you do not return to ground level in your boat. Instead, you exit the boat immediately after the Jack Sparrow in the treasure room scene, then take a speed ramp up to the ground floor gift shop. The Florida version also does not include the scene past the powder room with the intoxicated pirates firing cannons.

The exterior of the attraction was slightly altered during the 2006 modifications. Included in the changes were the removal of the barker bird and original attraction sign. A new sign was placed on the outside corner of the fort facing towards the entrance of Adventureland. The design of the new sign is a ship's mast with the attraction name written in its black sails, and a skeleton of a pirate up in its crow's nest. The barker bird was eventually moved to the Pirates of the Caribbean section of the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney.

The position of the pieces on the chess board in the attraction's pre-show is not random. Marc Davis carefully arranged the pieces so that any move will result in a stalemate--thus, the skeletons have been playing the same game since 1973. The pieces were accidentally moved during a minor refurbishment and were not returned to their proper positions until someone found Marc Davis's original sketches.

Modifications

In its original form, the 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 the chase scene was altered to show the pirates making off with various treasure as the formerly "chased" ladies attempt to thwart them.

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. The "Pooped Pirate" was altered to hold a treasure map in his lap and a magnifying glass in one hand. His lines include: "This map says X marks the spot, but I be seein' no X's afore me." The woman in the barrel remained, although she was hiding a small treasure chest in the barrel with her.

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. 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 Jack Sparrow, and one of Hector Barbossa (who replaced the original 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, respectively). 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 Treasure Room scene, featuring an Audio-Animatronic figure of a tipsy Jack Sparrow relaxing and humming bits of the theme song amongst a collection of treasure.

To coincide with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, a projection of Captain Blackbeard from the film (voiced by original actor Ian McShane) temporarily replaced the 2006 projection of Davy Jones in the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom version of the attraction beginning on May 20, 2011.

Incidents

In February 2005, a 77-year-old woman from Minnesota lost consciousness and died after riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. A medical examiner's report said the victim was in poor health and she previously had several ministrokes. The report concluded that her death "was not unexpected."

Sources & External Links

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