I remember the first time I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom. We were visiting family and my cousins both worked at the Magic Kingdom: one was a lead on Main St. U.S.A. and the other in Fantasyland.
It was not too long after the ride had opened and the Magic Kingdom still used a ticket-per-ride system. We quickly learned, like so many others, that the E-Tickets (the inspiration for the name of our site etckt) were the best rides in the park.
Although not an original attraction when the Magic Kingdom opened the Pirates of the Caribbean quickly became one of the most popular attractions when it opened on December 15, 1973. The original Disneyland attraction was the last ride Walt personally participated in developing before his death in 1966.
The reason why this ride was not in place for the grand opening of Walt Disney World, was due to Florida’s proximity to the actual Caribbean. Walt’s team thought being so close to the historic origins of these pirates, the audience would have no interest in the ride; a Western themed cowboys and Indians attraction was slated for the park.
The Imagineers changed their plans, however, when word got out that there were no pirates at this park. They quickly drew up the plans, based on the original design. Although not as extensive and immersive as the original ride in California, the Pirates of the Caribbean maintained the same story line and major features of the original.
The watchtower that stands guarding the fort, Castillo Del Morro, was inspired by Castillo de San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, PR. From there you enter a long and winding queue area with extensive styling to set the mood for the pre-show.
The attraction has gone through some refurbishment over the years. The first, and most controversial, was eliminating the lusty rapaciousness of pirates. No more chasing women, only food and drink. This lead to a lot of criticism from longtime fans even from Imagineers themselves.
The second major refurbishment came in 2006 when the ride that inspired a movie was now being updated to include that film’s characters in the story-line. Including all new characters from the film in the ride: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). These new parts are all voiced by the original actors from the films.
Fun fact: the position of the pieces on the chess board were carefully arranged by Marc Davis so that any move results in a never-ending game.
There are 125 audio animatronic figures, 65 pirates/villages and 60 animals, in the attraction spanning the 2 levels of the ride; the upper caverns and the main show. The total amount of water encompassing the flume ride system is 155,000 gallons. There is one 6′ drop in the show to move the boats into the main show area. The Pirates of the Caribbean was a famed E ticket ride.
Wrapping it up
Included is a movie of the attraction. Although you cannot really see anything, you can hear most of the ride – so it is a nice sound-seeing tour of this great attraction.
Although the Magic Kingdom version is not as long and is missing some critical features if the original in Disneyland, it remains one of the most popular rides in the park, and a personal favorite as well. It is well worth the time to check it out on your next visit to the Magic Kingdom.