Eight Fun Facts about Pirates of the Caribbean
In the days before Captain Jack Sparrow battled Davy Jones and Captain Barbossa, Disney fans already loved Pirates of the Caribbean.
The ride stole our hearts as an integral part of New Orleans Square and Adventureland.
Even if Disney had never created a wildly popular film franchise, this ride would still be iconic.
Here are eight fun facts about Pirates of the Caribbean.
There’s a Real Fort
When you gaze upon the ride building for Pirates of the Caribbean, you’re looking at a realistic fort.
The explanation for this realism stems from the model Imagineers used for the building.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Puerto Rico dates back to the 1500s when King Charles V of Spain demanded its construction.
Called El Morro, it’s a World Heritage Site and a San Juan National Historic Site famous enough to have an extensive Wikipedia entry.
Disney built Castillo del Morro based on this structure. The nearby clock tower is Torre del Cielo, which translates to the Tower of the Sun.
The Ride Was Almost a Museum
During the 1950s and 1960s, both New Orleans Square attractions vacillated between styles.
At one point, Disney famously plotted Haunted Mansion as the Museum of the Weird. Later, Walt Disney himself envisioned it as a part of the attraction experience.
Pirates of the Caribbean faced similar indecision. When Imagineers conceived the ride, they viewed it as a walkthrough attraction.
At the time, museums worked as a sort of themed building. So, Disney considered them as viable inclusions at theme parks.
Thankfully, the 1964 New York World’s Fair proved to Disney that boat rides would appeal to mainstream audiences.
So, the next time you ride Pirates of the Caribbean, remember that you have It’s a Small World to thank for its existence, at least as a boat ride.
Don’t Drink the Water
First of all, you should never drink strange water. You’re an adult. You should know this by now.
However, this statement especially applies to Pirates of the Caribbean. Drinking the water here is a stupid move for two reasons.
Disney colors the water to make it brown. If it didn’t do that, you’d experience a shock. You’d notice that the water is shallow.
Yes, the water of Pirates of the Caribbean is only about three feet deep! Plus, you could look at the tracks, which ruins the illusion.
The Ride Sometimes Includes Live Actors
Have you ever visited Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or other ticketed events?
During some of these special evenings, Disney rewards its loyal paying customers with extra amenities.
For example, Space Mountain leaves the lights off during the entire ride, creating an exercise in total sensory deprivation.
Pirates of the Caribbean features what is probably my favorite of the bunch.
In the line queue and throughout the attraction, cast members role-play as pirates!
Sometimes, a pirate will lurk around a corner, waiting to shock an unsuspecting guest. One second, you’re walking quickly through the line.
Then, suddenly, a pirate is in your face, screaming at you! It’s hysterical for guests and pirates alike. You can tell that the cast members really get a kick out of it.
Of course, you may prefer the encounters that happen during the boat ride. Pirates will stand on bridges and shout lunatic piracy thoughts as you watch.
Anytime you see that Pirates of the Caribbean will have live actors, you MUST go! You never know who might show up.
You May Hear an Undead Auctioneer
Disney has plussed Pirates of the Caribbean on several occasions. After the success of the film franchise, Imagineers introduced a new misting effect.
The ghastly visage of Davy Jones threatened guests before they dropped into the waters below. Later, Disney replaced Jones with Blackbeard, a later movie villain.
However, most recently, Disney went back to basics by removing the misting scene entirely. So now, an old but familiar voice haunts guests.
Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you, either. It’s the Ghost Host from Haunted Mansion!
Yes, Paul Frees provides the voice of the Auctioneer and performs some other animation.
His undead presence adds particular spookiness to the moment in the cave when a skeletal turns into a live pirate.
Disneyland Provides Better Bang for the Buck
Sometimes, the difference in ride quality comes down to math.
To wit, I’m a Walt Disney World evangelist, yet even I must admit that Disneyland’s version is superior.
At Magic Kingdom, Pirates of the Caribbean lasts roughly seven minutes. Meanwhile, the Disneyland version runs for more than 14 minutes!
That’s not the only advantage, either. Disneyland’s version also features double the drops, two to one!
Plus, when you ride Pirates of the Caribbean in Anaheim, you get a view of Blue Bayou Restaurant!
The mad geniuses at Disney placed the restaurant’s tables right by the water!
The Fires Were Too Realistic
Have you ever thought about what a drone would look like to someone from the 1960s? It’d seem like witchcraft, right?
The same thought process applies to Disney attractions, as Imagineers utilized groundbreaking special effects.
Some of these tricks proved too realistic for the uninformed. To wit, the fire scene from Pirates of the Caribbean got Disney in trouble.
Yes, the Burning Town stirred confusion, even among firemen and firewomen.
Anaheim’s Fire Chief (!) personally requested that Disney turn off the power when the ride wasn’t in operation. He feared something perfectly reasonable.
In the event of an actual fire, workers may not be able to distinguish between the real thing and Disney’s special effects wizardry.
The Auction Scene Lives On
Over the years, Disney has removed most of the controversial elements from the attraction.
During the 1960s, Imagineers mined the unsettling history of piracy for laughs. For example, the Pooped Pirate famously grabbed a woman inappropriately.
Perhaps the most infamous example involves the Auction scene, wherein pirates spend some of their ill-gotten loot to purchase unwilling brides.
Disney understandably altered this scene a few years ago, turning the character of Redd into a fiery pirate leader rather than a victim.
However, fans of the old version are in luck. You can still watch it as long as your passport is up to date.
Tokyo Disneyland still shows the original version of the Auction scene and hasn’t indicated any intention to change it.
Feature Image: Disney