Changes to Pirates of the Caribbean

“And then, in here, we have a special attraction. We call it the ‘blue Bayou Lagoon.’ People are going to get on a boat here, and ride through the lagoon. And then as they get around here, we’re going to take them down a waterfall and take them back into the past into the days of the pirates, you know, where the whole Caribbean area was full of pirates and they were always sacking towns and things…” — Walt Disney Walt was a smart guy, there is no doubt about that.  Why, then, would there be so many

Changes To Pirates of the Caribbean?

Disney legend, Tony Baxter, is quoted as saying, “The word ‘things’ had a completely different meaning when Walt (Disney) used it. He would describe a ride with a huge waterfall and pirates everywhere, and then he would say, ‘And we are going to do some really neat things.’ You’d wonder what he meant by ‘things’, but you would see that the ‘things’ were what really made the ride special.” Those things were so special in Pirates of the Caribbean. Those ‘things’ were taking passengers UP a waterfall, those ‘things’ were setting the entire place on fire, and those ‘things’ were funny puns and scenes lurking around every corner. Alas, a lot of these ‘things’ are now gone. A lot of the greatest features of the ride have been abandoned due to lack of interest from the majority of visitors, political correctness, or not fitting in with the “Moviefication” of the ride. This begs the question, “Would Walt be happy with the way that ‘things’ have changed over the years?” Since the rides inception in 1967, there have been some major and some minor changes to pirates that have, in my opinion, taken away from the true feel of Caribbean pirates:

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Aye, matey – there be changes ahead!

CHASE SCENE

For me, the funniest portion of the entire ride was always the chase scene. There were 4 separate vignettes depicting pirates chasing attractive women in order to have their way with them, and there was a final vignette depicting a larger woman who was chasing a very frightened pirate. This scene was deemed too “racy and insensitive” and has since been changed to women chasing pirates that have stolen food and jewels.  However, there is still a scene where a rooster is chasing two hens …

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Never have I seen a man so mean about stealing a chicken …
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See? The ladies LOVE being chased around – no need to change things!
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This sleepy old-timer is saving for retirement, it seems.

THE POOPED PIRATE

In the chase scene, there is a seated pirate leaning against barrel while holding his loot. The original pirate was holding a ladies petticoat while a frightened, and naked, woman would, periodically, poke her head out of the top of the barrel. The pirate was bragging about taking her clothes and would say the line, “It’s sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench” and “I be willing to share, I be.” This line was deemed too suggestive and the entire scene was replaced by the same holding a piece of food while a cat now poked its head out of the top of the barrel. The scene has been changed again, but we will get to that in a second.

THE INCORPORATION OF CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW

This has been the largest change to the entire ride. The plot of the entire ride has changed from simply watching pirates ransack a town to watching a hunt for Jack Sparrow. The ship scene in the main room is now an attack in order to have Jack Sparrow turned over to the captain of the ship, Jack is now observing the town mayor being dunked into the well, he is also now peering out of the aforementioned barrel as the Pooped Pirate holds a treasure map, and he greets you on your way up the waterfall while offering to share some of the treasure that he is found. Basically, Jack Sparrow is everywhere. Now, I understand the point of adding elements of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to the ride. The movies were highly successful, and the incorporation of Johnny Depp’s character will draw in a generation that is more connected to the movies than the original ride. With that being said, it is just too much. Jack Sparrow and his influence is seen everywhere, and his presence is intrusive and distracting. There are so many intricate details in every scene that go unnoticed because Jack Sparrow is doing something that adds nothing to the scene. Basically, he has been added because he CAN be added and not because he SHOULD be added.

Another issue is that the storyline of the entire ride no makes no sense. Why would any city protect the criminal Jack Sparrow? There is not a scene in any of the movies where you see a town helping this pirate, however, Barbosa’s warning to the city in the main room gives the implication that the city is protecting Jack Sparrow. Also, his hiding in various scenes still adds nothing at all to the ride. The only appearance that makes sense is at the very end of the ride when he is reveling in his acquisition of the city’s treasure. Besides that, I believe that Jack Sparrow could be removed very easily without causing anyone to lose interest in the ride.

There are still some neat things that normally go unnoticed that could have been made more prominent for a remodel.  First, there is a painting by Marc Davis which hangs above the two drinking skeletons.  The painting is of a topless pirate wench and it is entitled, “A Portrait of Things to Come.”  We are not sure if it was a sign of things that were coming soon to the ride or not, but there are other paintings that show an incorporation of more women to the overall ride and, possibly, showing some of the auctioned women adapting to their new pirate life.  Also, there is a funny chase sequence happening in the Gluttony Chase scene: a rooster chasing two hens.  Bringing these elements to the forefront would have been a much better improvement to the ride.

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“A portrait of things to come” – is this the red-head in the wench-selling scene? A bit of foreshadowing of her adapting to pirating?

Another Marc Davis concept that was never used was a scene with two ladies on top of a pile of gold, clearly won by way of pirating.  It would have been nice had Imagineering consulted some of the earlier visions for the ride in their quest to balance the Man/Woman power struggle that they clearly thought was in need of correcting.

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A far better scene than village women chasing invading men around.
 

Times change and we must change with them, but I truly believe that these changes have robbed the ride of their initial purpose and feel. What say ye’?

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