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It All Started With The Carolwood Pacific: “Pirates of the Caribbean®”

Pirates - disney“Yo Ho Yo Ho A Pirates Life For Me!” Pirates of the Caribbean® (POTC) is one of the all time classics not only at Walt Disney World® but also Disneyland®, Disneyland® Paris and Tokyo Disneyland®. The last attraction Walt Disney worked on prior to his death, this adventure on the high seas takes guests through the adventures of pirates. POTC is one of the most detailed attractions, and there are countless things that the Imagineers have added to make it so immersive. Since there are so many details in the show scenes, I will pick out some of my favorite and discuss them.

The attraction starts outside in the courtyard where the immersion takes place immediately. As soon as the guests enter the fort of Castillo Del Morro, they quickly realize they have entered into a 1700’s Spanish fort. The detail in this area is evident right away. Guarding the fort is the beautiful watchtower Torre del Sol, which truly makes you feel as though on the other side of this tower is the sea.

As the guest walks past the tower of Torre del Sol, the queue starts to form right when you walk in the show building. It is immediately clear that imagineers did not overlook a single thing to ensure the best possible guest experience. One thing that you will notice upon walking in is that everything looks weathered and aged. The cavernous walls and wooden posts appear as though they have been eaten away by the salty air for years. The lamps leading guests through the caverns are worn and the candles look as though they may flicker out any second. The sailing ropes, wooden crates, barrels and cannons appear to just have been left to waste after a long voyage out at sea. While the guest makes their way through the queue, they will notice the smell of musty water. This smell has become a bit of a cult favorite to many Disney fans as it reminds them of POTC and several other water based attractions in WDW.

Once in the boats, the journey on the sea begins. By placing the guests in water, it offers them the perfect vantage point to view what is occurring and to be thrown right in the middle. As soon as the guests start their journey, they will hear the familiar phrase from the attraction “Dead Men Tell No Tales.” One of the show scenes in the beginning of the attraction is of the skeleton helmsman on the wheel of a wrecked ship. With a storm in background, the howling of the wind, the cracking of thunder and flashes of lighting, this scene in my opinion is one of the best and most eerie ever-created in Walt Disney World®. Scattered amongst the wreck are shredded sails and cargo left to rot aboard the wrecked vessel that gives the effect that the guests have just stumbled upon a wrecked ship that has been cursed.

After the encounter with the eerie skeleton helmsman, the boats take the guests down a thrilling waterfall that leads right to the middle of a battle. The fight is between pirates aboard the Wicked Wench ship and the soldiers trying to hold down a fort on an island. By passing right through the middle of the scene, guests are put in the line of fire as cannons are blasting on either side, narrowly missing them. As the guests’ boats make their way through the fight, it is unclear whether the pirates’ threats and cannons are now aimed at the fort or the guests passing through.

As the ride continues, the boats enter multiple scenes of pirates in a town ransacking it, auctioning off women, searching for treasure and the scene were the town eventually burns down. In each one of these scenes, the attraction is set up to slowly reveal the beautiful scene that is laid out. By bringing the guests’ boats into the scene at a certain angle, the guests’ eyes will be drawn to specific details first, then move to the next detail to play the story out.

The detail that really brings the story to life in this attraction is the Audio-Animatronics (A.A.). Created by Walt Disney Imagineering (first called W.E.D. when Walt created this branch of the company), the A.A. brings the attraction to life with fluid movements, interactions and bone chilling resemblance to real people. Each A.A. is very detailed and designed to look different from one another in the attraction. Without the A.A.’s, the attraction itself would not come anything close to what we know it to be today.

Another of my favorite scenes in the attraction is the burning town scene where the pirates bellow out the famous theme song to the attraction, “Yo-Ho (A Pirates Life for Me”). The realistic fire displayed in the building windows and the drunken mass of pirates singing are a great example of the Imagineers putting the guests into a world that can only be scene in a Disney attraction. Prior to leaving the burning town scene, my favorite individual detail is presented prior to floating under the bridge. Look up and there will be a pirate swinging his leg over the guests, and all the hairiness of the leg will be revealed.Jack Sparrow - disney

As the attraction nears an end, the boats float by a scene of pirates who have been locked up in a jail trying to tempt a dog, who has the jail’s keys in his mouth, to come over so they can break free. The Imagineers also are able to create animal A.A.’s that are very realistic and may cause a guests or two to take a double look at the animals. This jail scene is such a simple one yet is still very memorable for so many people.

Interesting Facts:
• The chess game that is located in the queue is arranged in that any move made will result in a never-ending game.
• During the 2006 rehab, Jack Sparrow was added to the attraction and many of the scenes are now centered on his adventure inside of POTC.
• The attraction was not on the original plan to be built in Walt Disney World®, but due to the popularity of POTC in Disneyland®, the guests urged Disney to bring it to the east coast.
• The song “Yo-Ho (A Pirates Life for Me”) was created by George Bruns, who created the music, and X. Atencio, who created the lyrics.

(Photos ©Disney)

I want to know what your favorite scenes, details, Audio-Animatronic‘s, ect. are in Pirates of the Caribbean®. Comment below and keep the conversation going!

Alex Larson is currently a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, he has loved Disney since he was born. Making annual trips to Walt Disney World® since the age of three, the parks have become a very special place to him. His love for the parks is due to the memories he has had, attractions, the endless things to explore, the food and the sense of happiness every Disney fan feels while there.