Pirates of the Caribbean Gets a Facelift

Growing up, one of my favorite rides at the Walt Disney World Resort was Pirates of the Caribbean. A seemingly simple boat ride that begins with random scenery of skeleton pirates and abandoned treasure, the boat plunges down a waterfall and back in time, into the days of pirate ships and buried treasure.

Years ago, Disney made what many fans consider to be a huge mistake. They made the ride “politically correct”. Once you plunged back in time and to an island in the Caribbean that was being ravaged by pirates, you saw a woman being chased by a pirate to see, in turn, another woman chasing a pirate. It made a great joke, seeing the woman being chased and then having the tables turned. However, to make the scene politically correct, the joke was defused and both pirates were, in turn, chased by the women. It didn’t work. The joke was gone and, of course, there’s just no such thing as a politically correct pirate.

Now, in 2006, Pirates of the Caribbean is set to receive yet another rehab, this one, however, holds much more promise than the previous politically correct rehab.

With the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the upcoming Pirates sequels, the ride has been given new life. Some fans have even taken to participating in an interactive ride experience in which they quote none other than Captain Jack Sparrow as the ride moves along.

However, in 2006, fans of the ride and the movie will see the ride brought up to date with the films with three new Jack Sparrow animatronics, a new Captain Barbossa animatronics (you may recall that Geoffrey Rush played the mutinous pirate captain in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), and several new effects.

Among the new effects will be an apparition of Davy Jones, the new villain of the upcoming two pirates sequels played by Bill Nighy. Warning guests as they continue along the ride, Davy Jones voice will also replace the current narration as several of the moonlit cursed pirates show up with new effects attached.

You’ll find, however, that most of the scenery and, of course, the trade mark song, “Yo Ho, Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)”, remain; just spruced up to add the excitement of the blockbuster and critically acclaimed film.

Disneyland California will be the first to undergo the re-do, closing in March and re-opening in late June in order to be ready for the premiere of the sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. The Walt Disney World Resort will be next in line to undergo the changes, expecting to close sometime in May and re-opening in September. All of these dates are unconfirmed at the moment and are subject to change.

While many fans of the original ride worry about the changes, as both a fan of the ride and the films, I can see this particular refurbishment only adding more enjoyment and making it a brand new adventure for veteran fans and new fans alike.