Pirates of the Caribbean

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.

16 responses to “Pirates of the Caribbean

  1. Jill April 25, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I also always believed it was the night sky. Even though we went during the day. I just succumed to the magic, I guess!

  2. Amber April 25, 2012 at 7:08 am

    We love pirates too. I was sad that the WDW version only had one drop. Personally I wish there was a third drop. It feels like there should be one when you go through the mist. It’s fun taking our DD (almost 2) on the ride because the drops thrill her.

    • Shelby April 30, 2012 at 9:09 am

      The mist really does make you feel like there’s going to be another drop. I mean, it’s so ominous and mysterious and then you’re like “Okay, I’m still here.”

  3. Clinton Balmain April 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I rode PotC at Tokyo Disneyland several years ago, when it was decorated for Halloween. The ride was exactly like the one at WDW, except voiced entirely in Japanese. Very bizarre experience.

  4. Linus V. April 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Personally, I knew that the bayou scene was not a night setting because my family went on it during the day, However, wen we went to the park, we would get hand stamps then return after my little sister was asleep in the hotel. For years, I thought that the Haunted Mansion was only open after dark. Imagine my surprise when I was 12 and wondering the park with just my brother and I discovered that the Mansion was also open during the day.

  5. Naomi Johnson(Kat's friend) April 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I love this ride! Kat and I make a point to go on it several times whenever we visit Disneyland! When I was little I also thought the night sky was real…not sure why lol!

  6. Lyn Miller-Lachmann April 25, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I have to come back for this ride! It was closed when I was at Disneyland in October.

  7. Lynsey May 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

    This was also closed when my husband and i visited in September. So bummed because this was his first trip to Disneyland. Oh well, once our daughter is between infant and toddler stage (she’s due this summer) I’m sure we will go again!

  8. MelindaB May 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I love the Pirates ride! It was one of my must-dos the first time that I went to Disneyland, and then had to do it again when I visited with my sister and aunt. I have not seen the re-done PotC ride with Captain Jack added, other than in an online video. I loved the first movie, though. (…um, the less said about the rest of them, the better.)

  9. WKS May 14, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I too thought it was dark and the fireflies were real. My husband loved the fire scenes at the end. . . “They look so REAL!”
    You left out the PC dilemma of the pirates chasing the women and then the fat woman chasing the pirate. Now all the chasees are carrying food.

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