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Disney Reveals Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Change Amid Controversy

Pirates in jail trying to get dog to give them key on Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction
Credit: Disney

Disney Genie+, Lightning Lane, and Pirates of the Caribbean are all going through one massive change at Disneyland — here is what you need to know.

pirates of the caribbean disneyland

Credit: Disney

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most classic and iconic rides at Disneyland. The attraction opened in Disneyland in 1967 with the help of Walt Disney Imagineers such as Claude Coats, Rolly Crump, Marc Davis, and Blaine Gibson. It is also one of the original attractions that Walt had a hand in creating, even if he was not around to see it debut.

In each Disney Resort around the globe, a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction lives, making it universally known to all Disney fans, whether you are at Walt Disney World or Tokyo Disneyland. In Disneyland, the attraction is located in New Orleans Square, and while it was not initially designed to be a part of the Disney Genie+ system, it is now.

Disney Genie+ is the “new” version of the old Disney FastPass, which some guests may not know if they have not visited the theme parks post-pandemic. Disney Genie+ gives you Lightning Lane access, allowing you to zip past long queues for an added fee per person. The fee will change depending on the date, but starts at $30 per person per day. The feature only boasts that guests will be able to reserve around 2-3 attractions, as you can only make one Lightning Lane at a time, and time slots do sell out during the day.

Pirate on Pirates of the Caribbean attraction

Credit: Disney

In Disneyland, the park was not designed to fit the capacity that it demands, meaning a lot of the queues for attractions are far shorter than they need to be. For example, if you ever rode Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and thought, “oh no, the queue extends all the way outside”, you would have likely been stunned to see that as soon as that tiny outdoor line made it inside, you were directly boarding the ride.

Since the queues are not all made to accommodate a Lightning Lane, not all attractions have one.

How is Pirates of the Caribbean changing at Disneyland?

Pirates of the Caribbean was one of those rides until recently. With Haunted Mansion shut down entirely during its queue transformation and Splash Mountain transforming into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, those are two major Disney Genie+ attractions that are gone from selection. With Disneyland already having reduced rides to choose from when it comes to Lightning Lane, they had to look for another one to add — which is why Pirates of the Caribbean is temporarily a Lightning Lane attraction.

Disney has not yet stated how temporary this change will be, but it will certainly last until both Haunted Mansion and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure are in operation.

Jack Sparrow Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland

Credit: Disney

When guests make a Lightning Lane for a ride, but it breaks down, they are typically given a Multiple Experience Pass, which is essentially a pass that lets you enter nearly any Lightning Lane you want (some rides may be excluded). This often causes other Lightning Lane queues to fill up a lot more than expected, affecting the experience of those who were returning at their scheduled time.

Now, that may be changing.

One guest posed the question,”Is Disneyland changing Multi-experience passes?” online, after noticing that their Pirates of the Caribbean Lightning Lane return time was canceled due to the ride going down temporarily, but instead of getting a multi-experience pass, they were just able to redeem the Lightning Lane at Pirates of the Caribbean later on.

“Friend went to Disneyland today with Genie+. Pirates broke down during the return window, but instead of changing to a multi-experience pass (MEP), it changed to an open ended LL for Pirates only (as shown in the image and highlighted portion). Is this a new change across all LL’s or perhaps specific to Pirates since it’s “supposed” to be a temporary LL attraction while Mansion/Tiana’s are offline.

And if it is across all LL’s, this is the first I’ve heard of it and figured it warrants broader reaction/discussion from the community.”

Is Disneyland changing Multi-experience passes?
byu/forlorn_hope28 inDisneyland

In the comment section, other guests noted that they believe that this change is only applicable for Pirates of the Caribbean since it is a temporary Lightning Lane attraction. It seems that this feature was implemented a few weeks ago based on responses on the post.

While this will help other queues not get too bogged down from multiple experience passes that emerge when Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down (which is a slightly common occurrence), it does mean that once it is back up, there will be many guests clogging the Lightning Lane queue as many time slots will arrive all at once, making the Lightning Lane wait long, and the regular line longer as cast members must prioritize shrinking the Lightning Lane first.

That being said, we do know that this is a temporary setup.

Is Johnny Depp Still in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride?

Disneyland added Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in 2006. The addition was made to incorporate elements from the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise into the classic ride. Specifically, the character of Jack Sparrow, portrayed by Johnny Depp, was integrated into several scenes throughout the attraction. The movies that inspired these additions include Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), among others in the franchise that were not yet created.

Pirate skeleton scene from Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction

Credit: Disney

Johnny Depp’s animatronics are still present in all Pirates of the Caribbean attractions. Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure in Shanghai Disneyland calls even more attention to the rum-loving pirate.

The storyline of the attraction follows a new narrative inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, while also incorporating elements unique to Shanghai Disneyland. Guests embark on an adventure alongside Captain Jack Sparrow and other iconic characters as they set sail in search of hidden treasure and encounter thrilling encounters with pirates, mermaids, and sea monsters.

While Depp is certainly a strong presence in the attractions, as well as in the parks via meet and greet characters, he sadly is no longer involved in the films. 

Johnny Depp’s swashbuckling turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise became a pop culture phenomenon. But in 2018, Depp’s career path took a sharp turn due to a very public and tumultuous legal battle with his then-wife, actress Amber Heard.

The catalyst for the controversy came in 2016 when Heard filed for divorce, alleging that Depp had subjected her to domestic violence throughout their relationship. Depp vehemently denied these allegations and countersued Heard, claiming that she had fabricated the abuse claims and physically abused him instead.

Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland Paris

Credit: Disney

The ensuing legal battle became a media frenzy. Both sides leveled accusations and counter-accusations, saturating news outlets and social media with a constant stream of headlines. In 2020, Depp lost a libel lawsuit in the UK after a judge ruled that a British tabloid could describe him as a “wife beater” based on the evidence presented in court.

This legal setback, coupled with the ongoing negative publicity, had a significant impact on Depp’s career. Most notably, Disney severed ties with the actor. Though the studio never explicitly cited the legal battle as the reason, Depp’s absence from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was widely seen as a consequence of the controversy surrounding him.

The legal saga took another turn in 2022 when Depp won a defamation lawsuit against Heard in the United States. This verdict reignited discussions about domestic violence, due process, and the impact of public opinion on legal proceedings.

Is Johnny Depp No Longer Jack Sparrow?

Now, in an interview with ComicBook.com, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who was involved in all five movies of the nautical fantasy series, unveiled intentions to rejuvenate the franchise.

When queried about the current state of his Pirates and Top Gun franchises, Bruckheimer disclosed that the former will undergo a reboot. The original movies featured Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley in prominent roles.

Pirates of the Caribbean 6

Credit: Gaby Garza

“You don’t know how they come together. You just don’t know,” Bruckheimer said. “Because with Top Gun, you have an actor (Tom Cruise) who is iconic and brilliant. And how many movies he does before he does Top Gun, I can’t tell you. But we’re gonna reboot Pirates, so that is easier to put together because you don’t have to wait for certain actors.”

We also know that Craig Mazin, co-creator of The Last of Us, was previously linked to a new project alongside Pirates writer Ted Elliot. However, the development of the film was halted due to the Hollywood writers’ strike in 2023. However, Disney loved what was being created.

“We pitched it and thought there’s no way they’re buying it; it’s too weird. And they did!” Mazin told the Los Angeles Times in August 2023. “And then he wrote a fantastic script, and the strike happened, and everyone’s waiting around.”

Johnny Depp smirking as Captain Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'

Credit: Disney

Barbie star Margot Robbie was previously in discussions to lead a “female-led” overhaul of the franchise, as she revealed to Vanity Fair. However, plans for this project were ultimately abandoned. Nevertheless, Bruckheimer later informed Collider in December of the same year that the script for Robbie’s iteration of Pirates would eventually resurface.

Depp stated that even if Disney paid him $300 million to come back to the franchise, he would not, and based on Jerry’s agenda to reboot the franchise, his character would essentially no longer be needed. Whether that is a good or bad idea (likely, bad) will certainly reflect in box office numbers. Many fans have promised to boycott any future films with Depp after Disney dropped him, and a Pirates without him will likely cause an uproar.

Right now, there is no timeline for Pirates of the Caribbean 6. 

Would you be interested in a Pirates of the Caribbean without Jack Sparrow? 

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Alessia Dunn

Orlando theme park lover who loves thrills and theming, with a side of entertainment. You can often catch me at Disney or Universal sipping a cocktail, or crying during Happily Ever After or Fantasmic.

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