Pirates of the Caribbean

New Orleans, Disneyland Park

  • Land: New Orleans
  • Type: Mild but Wild Rides
WhereNew Orleans
ExperienceMild but Wild Rides
Duration15:30 minutes

Avast ye land lubbers! Set forth on a swashbuckling voyage on Pirates of the Caribbean and be transported back to the days when pirates and privateers wrought havoc on the high seas. Discover a pirate's curse, the plundering of a Caribbean village and the elusive exploits of Captain Jack Sparrow! As nighttime bruises the waters of the balmy bayou, enter the grand French manor and board a "bateau" that floats past the beautiful Blue Bayou Restaurant. Fireflies light the way as you pass an old shack, whose whiskered owner snores on the porch. Listen to the gentle banjo strains of "Old Suzanna" as you sail deeper into the caverns...

But tales there be aplenty in this cursed place. Drift into the Dead Man's Grotto, where the skeletons of past pirates litter the glittering troves of ill-gotten treasures. Many of these buccaneers met a brutal fate, forever silenced by the blade to keep the location of the booty a secret. The dead are scattered throughout the remains of a haunted ship whose crew drank themselves to death or who died in various states of repose. All the while, the harpsichord accompanies the rousing strains of the famous pirate chantey.

Sail straight into the pirate ship battle with the Spanish for a Caribbean town. A volley of cannon balls blasts through the air, crashing into the waters as Captain Barbossa calls for the surrender of both the Spanish crew and Captain Jack Sparrow. The waters carry you deeper into the caverns where pirates behave most abominably! It's all in the life of a pirate, I tell ye! Catch sight of beloved Captain Jack, as he drunkenly dodges his pursuers throughout the adventure. He's in pursuit of the treasure map and key that unlocks the secret location of the riches protected by the pirate curse. Will he elude capture and carry off a precious chest of pilfered treasure?

It is located within the New Orleans Square portion of Disneyland, its facade evoking antebellum era New Orleans, topped by a 31-star United States flag (which would indicate the 1850s). The ornate initials of Walt Disney and Roy Disney (W.D. and R.D.) can be seen entwined in the wrought iron railings above the attraction's entrance at Disneyland. 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 opened as an art-related retail/museum space called the Disney Gallery until late 2007 when it was replaced by the Disneyland Dream Suite.

Ride Experience

The ride begins amid glimmering fireflies during an evening in a Louisiana bayou. Riders board their boats at Laffite's Landing and are at once afloat in the heart of bayou country, after the safety spiel given by Blackbeard. On one side is a working restaurant, The Blue Bayou, made to look like the backyard dinner party of a southern plantation. It takes three days to empty and refill the "bayou" for renovations. There are 630,000 gallons of water, 53 audio-animatronic animals and birds, and 75 audio-animatronic pirates and villagers in the attraction.

Once past several rickety houseboats, the soft strumming of banjo melodies (including "Oh! Susanna" and "Camptown Races") can be heard over the peaceful sounds of nature as guests pass by one houseboat on whose porch an old man calmly rocks back and forth in his rocking chair.

A more chilling sound becomes audible from the darkness ahead: the thundering of a waterfall. The guests' boat takes a hair-raising plunge down the waterfall into a dimly lit cavernous passage, where a high-spirited version of the theme music plays.

After a second plunge 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 violent thunderstorm tossing an old pirate ship about, though the ship's pilot is nothing more than a skeleton. The boats pass through the crew's quarters, complete with skeletal pirates playing chess, the captain examining a treasure map, an old harpsichord playing the theme song, 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 version of the main theme on a pipe organ echoes through the dark tunnel. A curtain of mist appears in the darkness. Images of Davy Jones and Blackbeard are alternately projected onto the mist and invite guests to proceed if "they be brave or fool enough to face a pirate's curse". The riders pass beneath the mist curtain and emerge into the next scene.

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. A musical theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean films plays. From the deck of the Wicked Wench, Barbossa yells: "Strike yer colors, ye bloomin cockroachers, by thunder we'll see ya 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, followed by a large splash and underwater lighting effects to simulate cannon fire.

The village of Puerto Dorado on Isla Tesoro is overrun with pirates in search of treasure. The first sight is the town square, where some pirates have kidnapped the mayor, Carlos, and threaten to drown him in a well if he doesn't divulge the location of the treasure. Carlos' wife tells him to be brave and not talk; she is shot at as Carlos is repeatedly dunked in the water while several other captive city officials look on. Captain Jack Sparrow is seen hiding behind some dresses. An auction scene follows, where a pirate auctioneer auctions off the town women to other pirates while drunken bidders hoot and holler for a redhead who is next up for bids. Unfortunately for them, the only person the auctioneer wants to sell at the moment is an overweight woman who seems not to care what the others think of her.

The next scene is a chase where pirates run around chasing girls, and two foolish buccaneers who have stolen some snacks are chased by an angry woman holding a rolling pin. Just beyond is a "pooped pirate" drunkenly waving a map and key to a treasure vault, boasting that Captain Jack Sparrow will never see it. Jack is hiding in a barrel just behind him, popping out and getting a good look at the map over the pirate's shoulder. Off to the side, a pirate by the name of "Old Bill" wants to share rum with a group of terrified alley cats.

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. One of the pirates holds a noose, hoping to trap the dog.

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 (possibly the "Treasure Vault" as mentioned by the Pooped Pirate). He is draped over a large throne-like chair and waves his new treasures around happily while chattering to himself and to passing guests. Every once in a while he sings, "Drink up, me hearties. Yo ho!". At Tokyo and Florida a small parrot talks with him. The boats proceed up a lift hill, and Davy Jones' and Blackbeard's voices are alternatively heard once more, encouraging riders to come back soon. The boats reach the top of the hill and spill back into the sleepy bayou where the journey began, passing by a parrot on a sandbar that can be seen from the queue.

Touring Tips

  • The queue for Pirates of the Caribbean takes a while to build up, and is usually of quite manageable length for the first 2-3 hours after park opening. Except on the busiest of days the queue is shorter than that of other attractions like Indy and Splash Mountain.
  • While it is a relaxing boat ride with no height restrictions be aware that the whole ride is in the dark with scary images throughout.
  • Keep in mind that you will also experience at least two big drops.
  • After the popular Disney movies came out Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa, and Davey Jones can be seen throughout the ride so keep your eye out for them.
  • After embarking, look to the right and observe those who are dinning by firefly light at the Blue Bayou Restaurant. (If you want to eat at Blue Bayou make sure to make reservations several weeks in advance of your trip since it is extremely popular and fills up quickly.)
  • The ship can hold plenty of crewmen so the line usually moves very quickly.
  • Some people have said that their favorite part of Disneyland is the musty smell on this ride.
  • This is a must see! If you have limited time in the park make sure to ride Pirates of the Caribbean at least once. With just under 70 talking pirate animatronics this ride is one of the most elaborate audio character themed rides in the park.
  • The closest restrooms are located in the back of New Orleans Square, around the corner from Le Bat en Rouge.

Facts

  • This was the last attraction which Walt Disney himself participated in designing; it opened three months after his death, in the spring of 1967. It was originally envisioned to be walk-through wax museum attraction.
  • During the spring 2006 rehab, several new audio-animatronic figures inspired by the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl were added to the attraction. The villainous Captain Barbossa commands the pirate ship The Wicked Wench, and some very life-like audio-animatronics of Captain Jack Sparrow appear in three different places - he even "sings" in his final appearance.
  • At the beginning of the ride while floating in the bayou look overhead, and you may see a shooting star.
  • The pirate ship that's firing on the fort is named the "Wicked Wench."
  • In the original version of the attraction, after the "Buy a Bride" auction the pirates were shown chasing their "brides", with the exception of the "stout-hearted" lass who was chasing her groom. It was changed into a more "politically correct" version in 1997, and now the women are chasing the pirates - who are carrying food that they apparently stole.
  • Several new audio-animatronic figures that were added in the 1997 rehab came from the World of Motion attraction at Epcot. Most of these were added in the village scene.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney-made log flume themed dark ride at Disneyland Park, Walt Disney World Resort Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.

History

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. However, the audio of the women's giggles while being chased remained despite the complaints. Sometime after this the audio was also removed.

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.

In the 1997 refurbishment, the "Pooped Pirate" was recast as the Gluttonous Pirate, a rogue in search of food. His dialogue included lines such as: "Me belly be feeling like galleon with a load of treasure", and "I be looking for a fine pork loin, I be". The woman hiding in the barrel was replaced by a cat.

At the Magic Kingdom, the chase scene was altered to show the pirates making off with various treasure as the formerly "chased" ladies attempt to thwart them. The "Pooped Pirate" here holds 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 remains, although this time she is 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 (taken from the aforementioned Magic Kingdom modification). 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 "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: The 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.

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.Fitzgerald, Tom (May 6, 2011). "Blackbeard Comes Aboard at Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Park May 20". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved May 17, 2011.

On November 24, 2011, the Disneyland version reopened after a heavy rehab which involved cleaning the props, replacing the cavern walls, repairing Dead Man's Grotto, repairing electrical systems, and cleaning mildew. Rumors floated that mermaids (as seen in On Stranger Tides) would be added. There was also a joke that thrill ride elements (loops, corkscrews, helixes and a jump over Club 33) would be added. The only major alteration, however, is the mist screen projection. Now it is randomized, meaning riders can see both Davy Jones and Blackbeard. Also, boxes have been added in the famous jail scene, and the treasure room at the end with Jack Sparrow now has a sparkling effect.

Hidden Mickeys

  • Behind and to the right of the Treasure Room's sitting skeleton, is a treasure chest with a specially designed lock. The lock on that treasure chest features a hard to find Hidden Mickey.
  • An image of Davy Jones is projected onto a curtain of fog. Three barnacles on Davy Jones' tri-cornered hat create a Hidden Mickey. The barnacle Mickey is found on the brim, just to the left of the tricorne's front tip.
  • Cannon fire from the pirates aboard the Wicked Wench has created a Mickey shaped hole in fort's wall.
  • On the left side of the last room, there are three pieces of armor hanging on the wall. The gold piece of armor has a Classic Mickey hidden within the design centered on the chest.
  • Try to ignore the gun battle in the attraction's last scene. On the left hand side, there are several pieces of armor hanging on the wall. Hidden within the design on the gold piece of armor, is a Classic Mickey. (The Hidden Mickey is now in a new location. As of February 2010, the Hidden Mickey armor had been moved to this location behind the red gunpowder barrels.)
  • The dark smudges (or rust) on the top of a treasure chest in Jack's treasure room, form a distinct Classic Mickey.
 

Touring Details

  • Best: Before 11am, after 5pm

New Orleans Attractions