Pirates of the Caribbean is my favorite Magic Kingdom attraction. I am not sure of the exact reason that I hold such fondness for it in my heart (I suspect there are many). As the last Disneyland attraction that Walt Disney himself supervised, it is a classic dark ride filled with amazing audio animatronics. And for me, it was one of the very first Disney rides that I experienced as a child. I remember being completely immersed into the experience and, in particular, I remember my dad pointing out the details like the hair on the leg of the pirate straddling the bridge. Located in Caribbean Plaza in Adventureland, you see and hear this imposing attraction as you approach, and you know you are in store for a fun ride. There are almost too many reasons to name as to why we love Pirates of the Caribbean, but here are 5:
5. Classic Walt
As newer, faster, flashier attractions are built for the Disney theme parks I find myself still drawn to the classics that are anchored with the amazing audio animatronics that Walt Disney is known for pioneering. There is something about the complete environment surrounded by moving (almost breathing) figures where complete vignettes filled with rich detail play out right before you. Literally like sailing through a storybook. Pirates of the Caribbean is a chief example of the talent of the early Imagineers with the first attraction opening at Disneyland in 1967 and Walt Disney World’s version opening in 1973 just 2 years after park opening (after guest demand). And to their credit, the more recent updates to the attraction by Imagineering keep the original spirit of the attraction in tact (in my opinion).
4. The Water Smell
I know you think I am crazy, but as soon as I enter the inside portion of the queue I can smell it. And I don’t know how to describe it. A bit musty I guess, but the smell of the water gets me and it takes me back to my first time riding. I guess it is a little crazy to love that smell so much but I know I am not the only one. With one of the latest refurbishments the Imagineers added in some new smells through the ride and I like those but the water smell is my favorite.
3. Captain Jack
What’s not to love there really? While I was skeptical when they altered the original ride experience to include Jack Sparrow I have to admit that his audio animatronics are incredibly well done and lifelike. Sometimes I would swear it is actually Johnny Depp sitting there on that throne at the end or popping out of the barrel. For the most part the addition of Captain Jack does not change the storyline of the attraction and they don’t detract from its charm. And I am sure that for a younger generation who was first introduced to Pirates of the Caribbean through the movies rather than the attraction it would be strange for Jack Sparrow not to be in the ride.
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2. The Details
As I said in the introduction, it is the details that pulls me into this attraction and the story. The pig in the mud, the hair on the guy’s leg, the flowers in the flower boxes. There is an attention to accuracy as well with appropriate types of furnishings for the time period, everything from the chairs they are running around to the lock on the jail. The details really start in the queue where you go through the fort area complete with cannons, ammunition, and my very favorite the scene of the skeletons locked in a never ending game of chess. Once you board the boat you see the foreboding beach with the crab, and down you splash into a battle. The town scenes are what impress me the most and I think every time I ride my eye catches something different. The Imagineers went to great lengths to bring the scenes to life with props and details everywhere.
1. Yo Ho!
My favorite part of the ride is the part that stays with me as I exit, as I walk through Adventureland, and as I sit here at home typing this article: the song! I bet you are singing it too, “Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirates’ Life for me! . . . Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads, Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.” This catchy song was written in 1967 for the original Disneyland version of the attraction by George Bruns and X. Atencio, and has been guiding boats through the attraction ever since.
What do you love about the Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction?