So I’m at Walt Disney World in the Magic Kingdom, getting ready to go on one of my favorite rides from Disneyland. I was pretty excited.
There was really no line for the ride. We waited maybe 3 minutes to get on a boat. Then I realized why there was no line. The cast members either took it upon themselves or are trained to cram the boats to the absolute top with people. At Disneyland, if you say there are 2 people in your group, that’s all there will be in your row on the boat…not at the Magic Kingdom. If you have 2 people, they will ask for another group of 2 and cram you into the same row.
Now, if you get 4 people in a row that are…let’s just say we’re not runway models. Because the cast members cram so many people onto the boat, it was uncomfortable. When the boat arrived, we were the second pair of people in our row and I thought we were supposed to go on the next boat. After all, that’s what you do at Disneyland. Then the cast member told me and my WDW partner to get in. I was the last one in the boat and initially, there was not room for my butt on that seat. Rather than let us go on the next boat, the cast member told the rest of the row to scoot over and get cozy. I know they’re trying to keep things moving quickly but I would have rather waited an extra 3 minutes and been comfortable.
Enough about the accommodations. Let’s talk about the ride. After you get onto a boat and start on your way, you take a turn around a corner to the right and come to the mist curtain with Blackbeard projected onto it reciting the exact same lines Davy Jones says on the Disneyland version. So let’s think about this for a minute. There is no relaxing float through a calm bayou with the sounds of crickets and bullfrogs. There is no skull and crossbones asking, “you come seeking adventure and salty old pirates, eh?”. It’s straight to Blackbeard.
After Blackbeard, on the left hand side, you come to the island with the wrecked lifeboat and the pirate skeleton with a seagull on his head. You take a turn to the left and go past the shipwreck with the skeleton at the helm, steering the non-existent ship through a thunder storm. This scene at WDW is lacking compared to the version at Disneyland. The rain effects are not as advanced and the light that strobes the lightning is visible through a hole in the rock work.
After the shipwreck, comes the drop. By this point, all I could think about was how much was different. The drop was AFTER the shipwreck. There was only 1 drop. The scene with the pirate skeleton in bed wasn’t there, the treasure room wasn’t there, the entire right side from the Disneyland version was gone too. There were no skeletons playing chess. No skeleton drinking rum that went right through him. Large pieces of what makes Pirates of the Caribbean what it is to me…were gone.
Because of the amount of people crammed into the boat, the drop gets you soaking wet. Which in the summertime in Florida isn’t such a bad thing but when you’re not used to really getting wet at all on the drop, it was a bit of a shock. I had in my hand my Nikon D3200 and my friend had my cell phone in her hand. Both got wet. I scrambled to get them both dry to continue getting what shots I could.
After the drop, things leveled off and became much more consistent with Disneyland. The next room was the pirate ship with Barbosa firing at the city wall. From here, everything was essentially exactly the same as it is at Disneyland. There was one exception that I noticed. Everything was much more spread out at the Magic Kingdom. The scene with the drunk pirate sitting in mud with the pigs is right off the right side of the ship at Disneyland. At WDW, that scene exists, but it’s a good 20 feet of the right hand side of the ship. So there is a bit more room there.
So everything from Barbosa through the pirates in the dungeon is pretty much the same until you round the corner past the dog with the keys in his mouth. Disneyland’s version has a low ceiling with smoldering, creaking wood that seems like it could collapse at any time. In the version at WDW, you come around the corner and seem to be floating down the middle of what a looks to be a street. About 20 feet off the left hand side of the boat, across a cobblestone street, is Captain Jack Sparrow in his treasure room. In the West Coast version, you see this as you go up the lift in your boat and it’s right off the left hand side. To me, this was pulled so far back and the design of it made it seem like it was placed there as an afterthought. Captain Jack’s treasure in a “storefront” right on a city street with no more than an iron gate to guard it? It didn’t seem to fit in.
The next piece of the ride is completely different. After Captain Jack’s treasure, you get off the ride. That’s right. you don’t ride up a lift back to the top. They have separated the load area from the unload area. After you get off your boat, it goes empty up a lift back to the loading area and you ride a moving sidewalk up to the top similar to how you get off and out of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.
So that’s it for Pirates of the Caribbean. It was fun but hard for me to get over the differences and the things that were missing. Here’s a great YouTube video from BigFatPanda. This video has the best coverage of this ride I’ve seen.
Be sure to come back for Part 4 of my series on my 1 day at WDW where I go on the Haunted Mansion. Thanks for following along.