8. Years in the Making
For years before the ride was constructed, there had been plans for a pirate-themed attraction in Disney World. Initially, it was planned as a wax museum, but later it was decided to use audio-animatronics to tell a pirate tale. Pirates of the Caribbean has the honor of being the last attraction that Walt Disney oversaw in Disneyland. Rumor has it that before the ride opened, Disney Imagineers pushed Walt through the ride on a jerry-rigged dolly, at the same speed the boats would pass through. Disney World’s version of the ride opened in 1973, and has remained one of the most popular attractions in Magic Kingdom to date!
7. Special Effects
Despite the epic battle and fire spreading through town, the effects used in Pirates are relatively simple. The cannon effects involve flashes of light and air blasts timed with the movement of the prop cannons, making it seem like unseen cannonballs are speeding by. Guests are even blasted with air at the same time, adding to the effect. The “fire” is comprised of fans, lights, and cloth, which combine to make it look like the town is actually on fire.
6. Hollywood Influence
It’s common knowledge now that this attraction inspired a hit series of Pirates of the Caribbean films, which have now in turn influenced the ride itself. Due to the movies’ popularity, their counterpart rides in both Disneyland and Disney World were changed to incorporate everyone’s favorite heroes and villains from the films. You’ll find Jack Sparrow hanging out throughout the ride, and Captain Barbossa also makes an appearance. The mermaids featured in “On Stranger Tides” also show up. Johnny Depp himself decided to visit Disneyland’s Pirates ride, playing his famous character for unsuspecting guests – so you never know who will show up on this popular attraction!
5. Famous Voices
You’ll notice a lot of familiar voices throughout Pirates of the Caribbean. Of course, all of the actors from the films inspired by the ride voice their respective characters in the attraction. Paul Frees, who was the original voice of Donald Duck’s uncle, as well as the voice of the Ghost Host on Haunted Mansion, provides his voice for some of the other pirates. Then there’s Thurl Ravenscroft, better known as Tony the Tiger, who also voices characters on the ride.
4. Swashbuckling Secrets
Eagle-eyed guests will notice some hidden gems throughout the ride queue and attraction. While waiting to board your boat, watch for two pirate skeletons playing chess; rumour has it the game is an eternal stalemate! Once the ride begins, one of the skeletons in the beach scene wears one an old costume from Jungle Cruise. Finally, keep an eye out for a pirate resembling Abraham Lincoln – he’s a retired character from the Hall of Presidents.
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3. Name That Tune
Chances are most guests leave Pirates of the Caribbean humming the theme song, “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)”. The lyrics for the now famous tune were written by Francis Xavier Atencio (who also wrote not only the initial script for the attraction, but the script and main song lyrics for the Haunted Mansion ride), while the music was composed by George Bruns, who has written music for many Disney movies.
2. Updating a Classic
The ride has been updated on several fronts to give it a bit of a facelift. Characters have been given new, more colorful costumes (and Barbosa’s character is now wearing his outfit from the most recent movie). Lighting has also been updated to help make the characters pop against their background, and make them easier to see. The animatronics have also been renovated to help them move more naturally and smoothly. The bride scene has now become an auction scene with the redhead in a leadership role. Even classics can be updated!
1. Rum and Smoke
Another of the updates to the attraction involves smells on the ride. A guest favorite has long been the musty, dank smell of the water on Pirates of the Caribbean. While this scent can still be noticed in the ride queue, it’s been removed from the ride itself. The good news? It’s been replaced by other, even better, smells, including rum and burning odors.