Friday, 13 May 2011

Here's Johnny!

Give me a P....Give me an I....Give me an AAARGH!

Yes today's stop on my tour of WDW is Pirates of the Caribbean...

We pillage and plunder, we rifle and loot
Drink up me hearties yo ho,
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot,
Drink up me hearties yo ho
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.

Now the observant amongst you will notice that that wasn't a picture from WDW. It's actually from the original ride over at New Orleans Square in Disneyland. For those that haven't been it's a bit like a cross between the WDW version and the Mexico pavilion at Epcot but with more cavern scenes at the beginning and it is, by far, my favourite version of the ride.

We extort and pilfer, we filch and we sack,
Drink up me hearties yo ho,
Maraud and embezzle and even hijack,
Drink up me hearties yo ho,
Yo ho, Yo ho, A pirate's life for me!

These days Captain Jack Sparrow makes his home on the ride but up until a few years ago he didn't appear at all. That's what a successful film franchise will do for you. On 18th May Blackbeard is moving in too to help promote the new film and Angelica, Blackbeard's daughter, has already been appearing in Adventureland.

We kindle and char and inflame and ignite,
Drink up me hearties yo ho,
We burn up the city we're really a fright,
Drink up me hearties yo ho.

Back when I was living in Los Angeles I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. If you're ever in LA I highly recommend going. It's a beautiful old movie theater that only ever shows one film at a time that has a soda fountain attached to it. They always have at least one sundae themed to whatever film is showing. When they showed Pirates 3 they made the organ (yes, it has an organ) look like Davy Jones' organ from the film and had a gallery with loads of costumes and props from the film as well.

We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villains and knaves,
Drink up me hearties yo ho,
We're devils and black sheep, we're really bad eggs,
Drink up me hearties yo ho

Ok, be honest, who's wondering why I just threw in a photo of a train? Well here's a little factoid for you that applies to both the Disneyland and Disney World versions of the ride. Near the beginning of both versions there's a small drop that sends you back in time. Well that drop works really well for the narrative of the ride but it actually serves a really important purpose. It allows the boats to cross the railroad line that circles the parks. At the end of the Disneyland version you cross back into the park when the boat is hoisted back up a hill near the end, but in the WDW version you cross back AFTER you get off the ride (that's what that uphill travellator is for).

We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads,
Drink up me hearties yo ho,
Aye, but we're loved by our mummies and dads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.

The history of Pirates of the Caribbean is well documented thanks to Uncle Walt's use of television as a promotional tool. So here are two more little factoids to finish off with. First, that POTC was originally conceived as a walk through attraction with pretty much the same layout as exists at Disneyland today. The second, is that, despite it already existing at Disneyland, POTC was not an opening day attraction at WDW. Why? Because Imagineers didn't think it would appeal to people visiting the Florida park because Florida is so geographically close to the Caribbean. Guests kept asking where the ride was so they built it. Decades later when guests asked why Jack Sparrow wasn't in the ride they shut it down and reopened it with the man himself appearing throughout the attraction. Talk about history repeating itself! Well, that's guest power for you!

All together now:

Yo ho, Yo ho, a pirate's life for me!

Next time: All Aboard!

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