Review: Jack Sparrow in DL's Pirates of the Carribean

Associated parks:
None

Monday, June 26, 2006 1:19 AM
Like most people, I was pretty concerned when I heard that Disney planned to change its classic "Pirates of the Carribean" attraction to reflect the popular movie characters. Don't get me wrong- I love the movie. But Disneyland's Pirates to me is the pinnacle of theme park attraction design. The best attraction of all time. So there would be a lot on the line with any changes they might make.

Fortunately, Disney has managed to integrate Jack Sparrow and friends seamlessly into the attraction, giving this classic ride the update it needed to enjoy another 40 years at the park.

We got to the park today to find the frame of the movie screen intact and the bleachers in place, taking up the entire walkway next to the Rivers of America. It was a traffic nightmare. The line for Pirates began near Big Thunder Mountain's entrance. Fortunately, its Pirates, so the line moved very fast. We are dealing with one of the highest capacity rides in existence.

Less than 30 minutes later, we were on the ride. What follows it is a painstaking detailed play-by-play. It begins just as it always has- the slow trip through the bayou. I think the banjo player on the porch has a new song, but thats inconsequential.

The music between the drops has changed from a vocal arrangement of "Yo Ho, A Pirates Life For Me" to an instrumental version. Fine with me, as it always seemed odd to hear the song before seeing a single pirate.

There is also some instrumental piece after the second drop that I've never heard before.

The first major upgrade is the skeleton at the wheel of the boat. He's always had an occasional flash of lightning, but we now have a digital projection of rain and actual bolts of lightning. It is a great effect and looks very nice in the scene.

The treasure scene looks nicely updated as well. Everything just seems fresher, along with the addition of the chest of Aztec gold from the first movie.

The scene-stealer of the upgrade is the mist screen projection of Davey Jones in the dark tunnels before the ship vs. fort battle. The projection is jawdropping. It appears to be a real waterfall, with Davey Jones appearing within it to warn of the treasure's curse. Seriously. Its so convincing you expect to get wet when you pass under it. This effect is a far cry from the maligned rat effect on Indiana Jones.

The Wicked Wench firing upon the fort now has Barbossa at the helm. As cool as the animatronic was, I can't help but miss the classic dialogue of the previous captain.

And then we finally get to see Johnny Depp...er..Jack Sparrow. ;) He is overlooking the well scene, hiding and listening to the pirate's threats to tell the location of the treasure. It is a VERY convincing animatronic, and a very expressive one at that. It may have more movement than I've ever seen from an animatronic figure as well.

The auction scene is as it has always been, which is good, as I think its one of the more iconic scenes from the ride.

And we see Captain Sparrow once again, this time hiding in a barrel, peeking over a pirate's shoulder at the treasure map. The barrel was once home to a woman and a later on, a cat. Now, it is Jack's place.

The jail scene, perhaps the single most memorable and classic parts of the ride is undisturbed. Thank goodness for that. Here I really noticed the digital sound, which has been added throughout the ride. You could hear comments from each of the pirates in the jail cell more clearly than I've ever noticed.

The ride concludes with something new! Instead of two pirates pushing a treasure chest up a hill, we now have Jack Sparrow sitting in the town vault, playing with the treasure he has found and drunkenly singing the ride's theme song. Another lifelike animtronic with lots of movement and a real crowdpleaser moment to end the ride with. I know Depp recorded the lines for his character, but I can't help thinking that it didn't sound like him.

As you go up that final lift, we hear the voice of Davey Jones telling us we are lucky to have survived and so on and so forth.

So what did I think? I think Disney hit a home run. A lot of people wanted the popular movie characters in the ride. A lot of people wanted the classic attraction to remain intact. With this update, both sides will be pleased.

I loved seeing Jack Sparrow, Davey Jones and Captain Barbossa in the ride and felt that they integrated them nicely, without changing the focus of the ride unneccesarily.

Rest assured- Pirates of the Carribean is still the classic ride we've known and loved- with some additions that will keep it fresh and innovative for the next 40 years!

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Monday, June 26, 2006 1:48 AM
As I suspected. Thanks, Matt ;)
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Monday, June 26, 2006 3:29 AM
Going over to the park in the morning. Thanks for the heads up! ;)
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Monday, June 26, 2006 8:48 AM
Glad to hear it's a reasonable compromise. It sounds like the only thing that'll be missed by Disney park fans (except maybe the super hardcores) is "Run for cover, you bloomin' cockroaches!"
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Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:31 PM

Michael Darling said:
Glad to hear it's a reasonable compromise. It sounds like the only thing that'll be missed by Disney park fans (except maybe the super hardcores) is "Run for cover, you bloomin' cockroaches!"

Of course, Barbossa says that very line in the first movie, so, my guess is that he might repeat it for the ride!

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Friday, June 30, 2006 7:18 PM
I was there on opening day. The ride is fantastic...I loved it before, and now it's even greater. AWESOME job Disney! :)
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