Monday, December 5, 2011

Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

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!

Pirates of the Caribbean has always been one of my favorite rides. I have many found memories of being with people on this ride. I remember taking my nephew on this ride on his first visit to the park when he was four years old. I had worked hard babysitting to earn the money to take my mother and nephew to Disneyland. My nephew enjoyed the entire day but the one ride that stuck in his mind was Pirates.

The first time we went on it my nephew was terrified of the fire effect, the pirates did nothing but make him laugh with joy. Once I reassured him that Mickey Mouse would never let him get hurt in his park my nephew begged to go back on the ride.

When I was homeschooling my daughter I used Pirates as a jumping off point to discuss the early buccaneers and pirates and how countries used them as part of their navel effort to colonize and grow. We also used it to talk about how women were look at in the past and how things have changed. (I wish that Disney had not gone and made things so politically correct by changing the sequence with the pirates chasing the women.)

There is an interesting joke in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. In the jail sequence where the imprisoned pirates are trying to get the key from the dog they could get out. There are three cell doors. The doors near the pirates and dog are closed and locked, requiring the key to get out. There is another door. It is the first door you pass when entering the area. That door is open with a burning piece of lumber wedged in it. If you look closely you will see there are no walls between the pirates and that first door. It would be easy for the pirates to exit through that door by stepping over the smoldering timber. This was placed in the rides by the Imagineers as a joke and to see how many people would notice it.

As you float past the Blue Bayou Restaurant you will notice some "buildings" with a second floor behind the guests enjoying their meal. At times the doors to the second floor rooms are open giving you a few in the Disney's allusive and exclusive Club 33. These doors are usually closed but sometimes open momentarily for servers to move freely up stairs from room to room. The Blue Bayou and Club 33 share the same kitchen.

The Bayou Bateau

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...

Dead Man's Grotto

Beware the warnings uttered by the pirate's skull as you drift beneath the raging waterfall:

Dead men tell no tales!

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.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!

Pillaging the Village

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!

Captain Jack Sparrow

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?

If ye be brave or fool enough to face a pirate's curse, proceed...

Pirates of the Caribbean is a ride at Disneyland and one of the most famous in the park's legacy. It is known for being one of the final attractions made with Walt Disney's involvement, and is also known for its catchy theme song. In recent years, the ride has become better known as the inspiration for a successful film franchise.

This ride is a dark boat ride. It features two drops that lead below ground. It has a very wide population of audio-animatronic humans and animals. It was created with some of the technologies from the 1964–65 New York World's Fair. This is the theme park version of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Ride Location

Pirates of the Caribbean is located in the land of New Orleans Square at Disneyland Park, California part of the larger Disneyland Resort. It is below the Disney Gallery and next to Tarzan's Treehouse in Adventureland. New Orleans Square is surrounded by the lands of Critter Country, Frontierland and Adventureland. Critter Country to the northwest, Frontierland to the northeast and Adventureland to the southeast.

The indoor ride itself goes outside the western boundary of Disneyland Park going beneath the Disneyland Railroad. It does so by going over two waterfalls leading you below ground.

Ride Experience

First you slowly move along with the canal as you come across a bayou, similar to what you would see in Florida or Louisiana. As you drift pass the Blue Bayou Restaurant (inside the building right next to the ride) you hear frogs croaking and see fireflies buzzing around you. You also hear a man playing his banjo to the tunes of "Oh! Susanna".

You turn around a corner and discover a dark cave looking opening and hear a talking pirate skull give you a mysterious warning of what lies ahead. Suddenly, you feel your boat picking up speed as you slide down a waterfall taking you beneath the park level. After that is a second, but shorter waterfall that takes you even farther below ground.

In the first show building is a more mysterious setting that takes you through creepy caverns and some alive and some dead "skeleton pirates". The second show building is more silly than creepy because of the odd behavior of the "non-skeleton" pirates.

As you go through the caverns you hear a frightening voice say: "Dead man tell no tales". As you enter show building two you go through a pirate fight with pirate ships on both sides firing cannon balls at each other. Then the captain of the pirate crew auctions off wenches for wives to the other crew members. You go under a bridge to witness a pirate ransacking featuring pirates chasing the village people. Then, you go through what's left of the village. Through several burning houses that the pirates then destroyed after ransacking them. You end up in a jail of captured pirates trying to get a dog's attention for the key that it's holding. And finally, around the corner is a pirate gun fight where the bullets seem to shoot over your heads as you go up the final lift hill to the unloading station.

Ride History

Originally, Walt Disney wanted this attraction to be a walk-through attraction using wax to make the pirates and would not be audio-animatronic, but those ideas were abandoned. Then came the technology of water propelled boats.

These came from the 64-65 New York World's Fair. With that, WED Enterprises was able to make one of the most advanced armies of audio-animatronics ever created by Disney. The process to make these figures was what made them so realistic. First they started with a sketch of the figure. Then they would make it 3-D (fraction scale replica). After, they would put them all in a fraction scale replica of what the show set would look like. And finally, they made the real full-scale audio-animatronics and the rest of the set as the ride you see today.

Unfortunately, Walt Disney died just three months before the attraction opened on March 18, 1967. Making this the last attraction he personally supervised before his death. He never saw the opening of this great attraction.

Movie Inspirations

In 2003, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. It became a multi-billion dollar franchise with the addition of two sequels. The films have grossed more than US$2.7 billion. The first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl premiered in 2003. The second film, Dead Man's Chest premiered in 2006. The third film, At World's End premiered in 2007. Also, a fourth film has been confirmed for release in 2011.

2007 Renovations

In 2007, shortly after the premiere of the third film of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the attraction got a face-lift. In return, the attraction was inspired by the movie and added characters from the movie into the ride. These characters were Captain Barbossa, Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones.

Davy Jones is introduced first. He appears at the end of the cavern scenes as a mysterious figure in the mist and appears to be a hologram. During the battle scene Captain Barbossa is introduced as the one replacing the old pirate ship captain (He replaces the old captain throughout all of the ride). Also in this scene are two added audio-animatronics that were put in to match the dialogue that never had animatronics to go with it.

The story throughout the new attraction is that Captain Barbarossa and his crew are trying to capture arch-nemesis Jack Sparrow (Seen hiding from Barbarossa throughout the ride). Dialogue for some of the classic pirates are changed to match the story.

2011 Renovations

Blackbeard took the place of Davy Jones for a time in honor of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. When the ride was closed down in October for a major refurbishment Davy Jones was brought and now Davy Jones and Blackbeard take turns welcoming guests into the battle scene.

Fun Facts

·         The audio-animatronics pirate captain auctioning off brides in the plaza were the most advanced figures of its kind in Disneyland.

·         The skeletons in the caverns were real because the plastic (and fake) bones were not invented yet in 1967.

·         Some of the sculptors made pirate faces looking like themselves for fun.

The highly advanced audio-animatronics in the auction scene

 Attraction Facts

·         Ride system: Water propelled boats

·         People per boat: 18

·         Audio-animatronics: 122

·         First drop length: 52 ft.

·         First drop angle: 21 degrees

·         Second drop length: 37 ft.

·         Second drop angle: 21 degrees

·         Number of show buildings: 2

·         Number of levels: 3

·         Canal length: 1,838 ft.

·         Ride duration: 16:30 min.

My Christmas book, An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas is out!!
You can find for all formats at
And for the Nook at
It is also available at the ITunes store for IPod, IPad and IPhone
It soon will be up at other sites such as Amazon

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