Featured Attractions

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Disney Differences: Pirates of the Caribbean

The last attraction supervised by Walt Disney was the classic Pirates of the Caribbean, the ultimate audio-animatronic attraction. The enormous sets, elaborate caverns and total immersive elements make it among the greatest themed rides ever built. The version that opened at DISNEYLAND has yet to be matched, even by its clones around the world.

One might assume that all of the different iterations of the ride are the same, but that's not at all true. The original ride at DISNEYLAND remains the most elaborate of the various versions with the one at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom being the least elaborate and shortest. The attraction's placement in DISNEYLAND's New Orleans Square, hemmed in on one side by the DISNEYLAND Railroad, required some unique engineering. The two waterfall drops at the beginning of the ride were necessary to get guests underneath the train tracks and into the show building, which is located underneath what is now Downtown Disney.

When Roy Disney began planning the Walt Disney World Resort (the version cut down from Walt Disney's original plans) he assumed that since Florida was near the Caribbean, nobody there would be interested in the attraction, so there were never any plans to build it there. Early guests to Roy Disney's Magic Kingdom remembered seeing the attraction on the Wonderful World of Disney and asked why their east coast park didn't have one. Park management rushed a clone into production but had a problem; despite the vast size of their new resort, they hadn't left enough space to fit the elaborate version of the ride from DISNEYLAND. 

Roy Disney's Magic Kingdom had no New Orleans Square so it had to go into the park's version of Adventureland. Florida's high water table precluded any underground segments, so they had to settle for an abbreviated version of the ride. Gone was the Blue Bayou Restaurant, the initial waterfall drops and the elaborate caverns. Florida's ride also omits the entire ghost sequences- the ghost sailor, the bar scene, bedroom scene & treasure room. Its version begins in an abbreviated cavern area and hastily shows the dramatic ship fight. The rest of the ride proceeds as normal until the famous jail scene where the pirates attempt to get the key from a crafty dog. In Florida, the ride abruptly ends around the last turn, omitting the fiery finale and the exciting shoot out at DISNEYLAND. Roy Disney's Magic Kingdom guests would need to buy an airline ticket to California to see the complete Pirates Attraction.