The Walt Disney World Resort is home to many beloved and iconic attractions that Guests love to enjoy time and time again on each visit. One such attraction is Pirates of the Caribbean, which can be found in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom. This popular attraction has been wowing Guests since its opening in December 1973 with a band of swashbuckling hearties that are as lovable as they are mischievous.
Pirates of the Caribbean is a slow-moving boat ride that begins by drifting through eerie caves where the skeletal remains of past pirates can be seen on the beach. After a brief drop, Guests emerge in a burning seaside town where the pirates are causing all sorts of havoc, including torturing a man in a well, hosting an auction for gold, and singing the beloved song “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).”
While no visit to the Magic Kingdom is complete without a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, many details throughout the experience often go overlooked by Guests. These details pay homage to the history of the attraction as well as the Disney Imagineers who designed it and are absolutely worth checking out on any visit!
The Eternal Game of Chess
The queue of Pirates of the Caribbean brings Guests into Castillo del Morro, a seaside fort filled with ammunition rooms, cannons, and many hidden pathways and areas to check out before reaching the boarding area. Guests who are moving through the Lightning Lane side of the queue should take the time and check out some of these areas, including a chess game down below where two skeletal pirates are trapped forever in the middle of a game. This game was an actual stalemate scenario from a chess tournament that was then dreamed into the pirate scene that exists today by Disney Imagineer Marc Davis. When Pirates of the Caribbean went through a refurbishment not long ago, the chess game was moved, and there was slight panic that Imagineers didn’t know exactly how to place the pieces on the board until, luckily, an original sketch from Marc Davis was found!
A Familiar Voice
There are many pirates to be found throughout Pirates of the Caribbean, but several characters feature a voice that Guests might find very familiar. Paul Frees, the iconic voice of the Ghost Host over at the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom, provided his voice talents while Pirates of the Caribbean was first being designed. Guests can listen closely throughout their adventure and recognize his memorable voice as the disembodied pirates warning that “dead men tell no tales” in the caves and the Auctioneer looking to collect gold.
A very unique thing about Pirates of the Caribbean is its lasting legacy that has gone on to inspire a Disney film franchise that, in turn, came back and inspired the attraction. Pirates of the Caribbean is a live-action film franchise starring Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom that was inspired by the beloved story enjoyed throughout Pirates of the Caribbean. The movies went on to be so successful that Pirates of the Caribbean was eventually updated to include several audio-animatronic figures of Captain Jack Sparrow throughout the experience, proving that the Disney Parks will always be evolving and updating with the times.
Another example of how Disney attractions have been updated with the times are several scenes throughout Pirates of the Caribbean that have been slightly edited to be more politically correct. The auction scene has long been a favorite of Guests and previously featured the Auctioneer selling off captured women as brides. While the redhead was always an iconic character, the scene was given an updated take with Redd, the pirate now helping the Auctioneer sell off goods and treasures for gold. Shortly after the auction scene, Guests can also spot several pirates who are being chased by women. This scene used to be reversed but was updated to be more politically correct in recent years.
There are endless details throughout Pirates of the Caribbean to check out while moving through each scene, including several Hidden Mickeys, which are technically all made of the same prop. There are many jail cells and locked areas to be spotted throughout the attraction, including the iconic scene near the end where pirates are desperately trying to lure a nearby dog who is holding the key to their cell. Guests who look closely at each of these cell doors can spot a heavy metal lock with a unique shape that creates a Hidden Mickey!
Burning Down the House
The burning seaside village scene of Pirates of the Caribbean is the highlight of the attraction where Guests truly see the scope of destruction that the group of swashbucklers is causing to the town. The pirates merrily sing as they collect their loot and the town burns all around them. The flame effect found throughout the scene was created by Disney Imagineer Yale Gracey, who is most known for the beloved and timeless effects that he created for the Haunted Mansion. Gracey’s flames on Pirates of the Caribbean are so realistic and lifelike that a fire crew who was conducting an inspection before the attraction’s opening actually thought that they were real!
Just before disembarking from their boats, Guests pass by a final scene where Captain Jack Sparrow can be found happily singing away amongst a massive pile of treasure. While there are plenty of shiny objects to check out in the scene, Guests should look up above the doorway at a unique crest found on the stone. The crest bears the name Marco Daviso which is a subtle nod to Disney Imagineer Marc Daviso, whose work can be found throughout many beloved attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean.
The final detail to not miss when enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean can be found after disembarking the boats. Guests head up a long moving sidewalk to emerge inside of the Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar, which sells all sorts of treasures. Guests who look down while on the moving sidewalk can spot the imprint of a show and a peg leg, indicating that a pirate passed that way not long before!