Pirates: Still A Classic?

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By Collin Korb            Which is it? Many have their differing opinions.  In order to put this argument into perspective we need to consider a couple of key points.  First, this is one of the “original” Disney rides that debuted in Disneyland and was then transferred to the Disney parks around the world.  Second, Walt himself had a hand in designing this attraction, it was the last he would help design before his death.  Third, the ride has already been altered.The first adaptation of the ride was implemented when it was transferred to WDW.  It was constructed around the new park, which did have more room, but had a different design.  Walt’s vision for his “underground” Disney and his love for railroads changed WDW Pirates.  The ride at WDW differs from its Disneyland counterpart in that it only has one drop- this drop literally takes you just underneath one of the WDW Railroad’s overpasses! Why the fewer drops, Walt’s tunnels are part of that equation?The second adaptation happened in the ‘90’s when the ride was changed to make it more “politically correct”. Those older fans may remember that in the original town scene various pirates were seen chasing the town women around.  With the advent of political correctness, this changed, now the women chase the pirates and one woman was replaced with a pirate and can now be seen carrying a treasure chest with one of his shipmates.

       The third change now involves a few controversial additions.  Davy Jones, Captain Barbossa, and of course Captain Jack Sparrow have joined the crew. The highly successful three movie installments and their ensuing earnings prompted Disney designers to include these new characters.  One new feature is a very unique, very expensive ghostly image of Davy Jones.  Disney was wise to enlist the actors themselves to voice the additions.  They also paid careful attention to Captain Jack’s mannerisms when designing the two animatronics that are now included. The Pirates Trilogy has taken off, but not everyone is happy with the changes and additions.  Many who are Disney Traditionalists and Historians feel it was a serious break from the original design.  Others have the opinion that a portion of Walt’s legacy had been defaced. One aspect to keep in mind though, is the ability of Disney to stay one step ahead of the competition.  Epcot itself is dedicated to the idea of what will happen tomorrow.  Imagineers are always striving to take attractions to the next level and design stat-of-the-art attractions.  Disney has always examined what more they can do to make the experience meaningful and worthwhile.

“Drink up me hearties, Yo Ho!”

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]