Yo ho, yo ho, it’s time to ride a classic!
Over in New Orleans Square, get ready to enter the Bayou and see a lively band of pirates! Except for the dead pirates, who are not lively but who you will also see.
Pirates was the last ride that Walt helped design, and it opened shortly after his death in 1967. I mean the ride opened in 1967. Walt actually died in 1966. Just to clarify for the purists in the crowd.
You enter the queue under a bridge.
Here there be pirates! Arrrrr!!!
When it’s crowded, both sides are open. I personally think the right-hand side is shorter, although I have no substantial evidence to back that up.
Pirates is housed in a lovely antebellum manor that I didn’t take pictures of on this particular visit because it was under construction, so I’ll post those later.
You go through a couple of switchbacks in the courtyard of the manor here:
Not crowded. It was a good day.
And the Pirates queue has another one of my favorite things–in line drinking fountains!
They're even all fancy and stuff
I think my attraction to water fountains came from when I worked at a summer camp way up high in the mountains where you could get dehydrated in like 3 seconds, and we always told the kids to stop and take 2 drinks from the water fountain whenever we passed one. I no longer am in this habit (can you imagine how long it would take to get through an airport???) but I do feel compelled to do it at Disneyland. Go figure.
When you enter the building, you see an appealing little island with an opinionated bird, the Jolly Roger, and a map.
Also some treasure
Decorating the walls are portraits of various pirates and lords.
Like Sir Henry, for example
You board your boat and are strongly admonished to not take flash pictures. And really people, when they say “no flash photography,” please don’t use your flash! It drives me bonkers! And ruins the effect for everyone else!
Also, since I wasn’t using my flash, the picture quality in this post from here on out is going to get sketchy.
But such is the price you pay for not using your flash. Don’t worry about crappy pictures–live in the moment!
First you gently glide through a bayou with the Blue Bayou restaurant on your right-hand side.
This is the only restaurant at Disneyland that I have ever been turned away from for not having a reservation, so make a reservation
The Blue Bayou is a very cool place to eat, especially if you request a waterside table. You may have to wait for it, but it’s really charming.
Anyway, you also pass various items one might find in a bayou
Like this boat
Now I’m sure you’ve noticed that this is all quite dark. That’s because it’s simulated nighttime. Well, here’s where Shelby goes all dorky on you and admits something embarrassing–for years I thought this was just open to the night sky. In my defense, for many years growing up, my family only went to Disneyland at night, when my dad’s company sponsored a corporate night. Pirates was one of the rides we always made sure to go on.
I figured out it was inside NOT because I rode it during the daytime, but because I rode it in the rain. Specifically, it was POURING, and we got on the ride and I thought “Oh, it stopped raining!” and then when it was over I looked outside and it was still pouring and then (and only then) did it occur to me to look up and see that I was still inside the building.
Anyway, once you leave the bayou, you hear the rushing of water and get a very stern warning from this dude:
Dead men tell no tales. Women too.
And then there’s a drop.
It’s not a big drop, but it’s a surprising drop if you don’t know it’s coming. Also you can get a little splashed on landing so cover your camera lens and glasses.
Also there’s another drop. This one comes as quite the surprise to people who are used to the Disney World version of Pirates, which only has one. So consider yourself warned.
First you enter the scenes with the dead pirates, like these guys who didn’t make it very far off the beach.
Also, judging by the size of the skeletons, pirates back then were very short
You move along through scenes of pirate recreation, except they’re dead pirates and dead men tell no tales.
There’s the pirate treasure, but what good is it if you’re dead?
Yes, at one point in my life I DID believe this treasure was real
And having been warned of your future should you continue on your pirate-y path of plundering and pillage, you move through the magic mist. In the past it was just Davy Jones who talked to you on the mist, but now it’s both Davy and Blackbeard. Its actually really awesome because the moving and talking image is projected directly on the mist, which you then go under. The effect looks like this:
Both Davy Jones and Blackbeard are like “Dude, there’s a pirate’s curse, but go for it if you want to” and of course you want to because you’re on a boat and what else are you going to do?
So you get thrust into the middle of a battle between a pirate ship and a fortress. At this point they’re playing the theme from the first Pirates movie, which is totally awesome because it’s a great song. Up to that point you’ve been yo-ho-ing.
Ya lily-livered something something!
The drunken pirates have taken over! They’re trying to drown this guy:
I know it's hard to tell, but there's a guy being raised and lowered into the well
Captain Jack Sparrow is hiding around here. Can you spot him?
You can also buy a bride, if you’re in the market for a bride
This is seriously not PC
Oh! I think I see Captain Jack!
The dog does, at least
You go past a couple more slovenly drunks before you realize that the town is on fire.
This can't be good.
You then come to one of the most iconic scenes of the ride:
Seriously, the dog is my favorite character in this entire ride
And despite the danger, the pirates are still shooting at each other.
Can you find the hidden Mickey?
And just before you leave the building (much like Elvis), it appears that Captain Jack Sparrow has indeed found the pirate treasure himself!
Voiced by Johnny Depp himself
Here’s another view. Really, I think this part is the best audio-animatronic in the entire park.
Yo ho, yo ho
And then you come back to ground level and float on by the island you saw going in.
Hello, land lubbers!
I absolutely love Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s definitely a must-do at Disneyland.