The Walt Disney World theme parks are full of classic attractions. One of the best is Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom. Pirates is suitable for families and appropriate for almost all ages. *Some youngsters might be frightened by the dark surroundings and the loud noises, especially during the battle scene, but generally, this is a very tame attraction. Set sail on a swashbuckling voyage to a long-forgotten time and place when pirates ruled the seas! Here are 10 swashbuckling secrets about Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean. How many did you know?
1) Facts & Figures – Pirates opened on December 17, 1973, more than two years after the Magic Kingdom opened. There are 66 pirates & 57 animal and bird Audio-Animatronic Figures in the attraction. The amount of water used is 750,000 gallons. The ride vehicles (boats) hold 22 adults. There is one angled drop of 15 feet, and total ride time is about 8 minutes.
*Bonus: The Disneyland version of Pirates opened in March of 1967 and was one of the last construction projects overseen by Walt Disney himself.
2) Captain Jack – The successful Pirates of the Caribbean movies have boosted the ride’s popularity, and guests’ demand led to the addition of animatronic figures of the film’s Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa in scenes. Captain Jack can be seen three times in the current version of the ride. Don’t miss him!
3) Chess anyone? – A popular rumor states that the chess game being played by the skeletons in the beginning of the ride are arranged in a stalemate., implying the two pirates sat playing the game, unable to make a move, until both died. Other sources claim that the pieces are arranged to suggest a game that can’t be won. Still others, such as “The Florida Project”, have photos showing that the pieces aren’t in a stalemate configuration and don’t even stay in the same place!
4) Watch out for those cannonballs! – Pirates features a battle between a pirate ship and the town’s fortress, with both sides lobbing cannonballs at each other. Of course, since launching heavy metal balls over guests’ heads is unrealistic, no actual cannonballs are used. Flashes of light and blast from beneath the water give the illusion of projectiles being fired and hitting the water. The recent addition of an air cannon blasting guests in time with the cannon fire adds to the effect of unseen cannonballs whizzing by.
5) Political correction – The original ride featured a scene where several pirates chased after local ladies and one heavyset lady pursued a pirate. This particular scene has been changed several times to keep up with what modern guests felt was appropriate for a Disney park ride. At one point, the heavyset lady was given a rolling pin to chase the pirate off. Later on, the ladies and the pursued pirate were given food items, changing the object of the pirates’ desires from the ladies themselves to the goodies they were carrying. The giggles were dropped from the soundtrack as well. Curiously, the bride auction scene remains unchanged.
6) Don’t yell Fire! – The fire effect in Pirates is surprisingly simple. It’s just a combination of cloth, fans and lights, but when seen from afar, it really looks like the town is burning. The effect has fooled many riders into thinking that real fire is being used, including once at Disneyland where an Anaheim fire chief was on the verge of shutting the ride down until he realized that the flames weren’t real.
7) Walt’s original idea – The attraction was originally conceived as a wax museum and a walk-through adventure. But following the success of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Walt Disney and his team of Imagineers decided that Audio-Animatronics—Walt’s latest animation technology—was the most imaginative way to tell a rousing pirate story.
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8) Details, details! – As you’re going under the bridge into the jail scene, there’s a pirate sitting on the bridge with his leg hanging down. If you look closely you can see that the bottom of his foot is dirty and that his leg is hairy.
9) Imagineers – Married couple Marc & Alice Davis helped to imagineer the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
10) Souvenirs – Pirates was the first ride in Disney World to end with an exit directly into a gift shop. Many rides now end this way.
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