Magic Kingdom


Pirates of the Caribbean

(December 15, 1973 - present)


History and photos of the famous Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - 1971

When Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park opened on October 1, 1971, a rather large section of Adventureland was left empty for future attractions.  Much to the Florida crowds' disappointment, the beloved Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride across the country in Disneyland was NOT included in the Florida theme park.  The park's planners believed that the mostly Floridian visitors wouldn't be as interested in pirates as the real life buccaneers raided and plundered along the eastern coast and throughout the Bahamas.  It occurred practically in their back yards.  Why would they be interested in that when more exotic attractions could instead be brought to the park?

Well, the park's planners guessed wrong as demand for Pirates of the Caribbean soared.  Caribbean Plaza and Pirates of the Caribbean opened on December 15, 1973, making that the largest expansion in the Magic Kingdom's two-year history.

Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 1984 - 01 Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 1984 - 02

Pirates of the Caribbean tells a tale of treacherous pirates attacking a Spanish town somewhere in the Caribbean, stealing its treasure, and then burning the town to the ground.  Of course, this evil tale is told in a more humorous tone, and the ride is full of gags and other amusing antics by the pirates.

The original Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland is famous for being the last ride that Walt Disney himself helped design before his death in 1966.  Partially inspired by 1950's Treasure Island, the first proposals for the pirate-themed attraction began in the late 1950s.  Back then it was proposed that the new pirate attraction would be a walk-through pirate wax museum that depicted the Caribbean pirates in a wide variety of scenes.  This concept continued gaining momentum until Walt Disney and his chief engineers (a.k.a. Imagineers) built some attractions for the 1964-65 New York Worlds Fair.  The attractions were a smash hit with the crowds, and one of them ("it's a small world") showed a new concept of using large boats to move a large amount of people through an attraction.  When Walt and his crew returned to California, they took a serious look at the planned pirates ride and decided to make it into the boat ride that we know and love today.

Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 1994 - 01 Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 1994 - 02

In 2006, Pirates of the Caribbean went through an extensive refurbishment that changed a few scenes and added several characters from the wildly popular Pirates of the Caribbean films.  The new version of the ride opened when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was released to the theaters.

Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 1997 - 01 Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 1997 - 02


The Magic Kingdom's version of Pirates of the Caribbean begins in Caribbean Plaza in Adventureland, and the exterior of a Spanish fort, Castillo del Morro.  Outside of the fort is an old mast from a sailing ship, and perched in the crow's nest is a skeleton still manning his post.  After entering the fort and passing through the large wooden doors, the line queue splits into two separates queues.  The left line queue takes guests through the fort's stockade and powder storage rooms while the right side passes by the fort's jail, complete with two skeletons playing an endless game of chess.  Both line queues meet at a boat dock where guests are assigned a row on one of the boats.


Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean begins with the boat quietly drifting out of the loading station and floating through a series of caves.  Ahead is a mist waterfall that shows images of Blackbeard and Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  After passing the misty waterfall we see a couple of dead pirates on the left side of the water.  Apparently something went wrong when they were burying the treasure, and both of the pirates were killed.  Ahead and on the right side is a skeleton pirate still manning the ship's wheel while battling a tropical storm.

The cave becomes very dark and suddenly we're sliding down a short waterfall.  After the brief thrill we witness Captain Barbossa commanding a ship while battling with the town's coastal defenses.  We can really feel the blasts from the cannon as wild shots splash in the water around us.  We sail into the town and see a group of pirates torturing the town's mayor by dunking him in the well.  The pirates want to know where they can find Captain Jack Sparrow, but the mayor isn't talking.  Off to the side we can see Jack Sparrow peeking from around a corner.

Ahead on the left we see that the pirate captain is holding an auction for women that were captured in the town.  The current woman up for bids isn't attracting any attention as the bidders all want to get their hands on the flashy redhead next in line.  After that we see more scenes of the pirates raiding homes and stealing whatever they can.  In one house we see one of the women brandishing a weapon and chasing the pirate.  On the right side is a drunk pirate named Bill (related to Bootstrap Bill from the Pirates films?) as he tries to offer some scared cats a drink of ale.

The ride continues and now the Spanish town is on fire.  The pirates are drunk and are set on burning the town to the ground.  On the left side we see a trio of pirates singing "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" while others continue to drink and join in the singing.  On the right side is a pirate sitting in mud with some pigs, and above the archway is a drunk pirate with a parrot on his shoulder.

We now enter the prison and on the right are several pirates locked in jail cells.  Three of the jailed pirates try to use a rope and bone to call over the dog who just happens to be holding the cell's keys.  The dog is smarter than the pirates, and he just sits there wagging his tail.  On the left side of the ride is Jack Sparrow in the treasure room.  He's leaning back in a chair while chatting with a parrot and singing his own version of "Yo Ho."

Pirates of the Caribbean ends as the boats enter the unloading dock.  The regular guests then travel up a moving sidewalk to the gift store while wheelchair guests use a hidden elevator off to the left.


Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 2001 - 01

Like the nearby Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean has also seen its share of change thanks to political correctness.  The original version of the pirates had more of them chasing women in the Spanish town.  One of the scenes had an overweight woman chasing a pirate.  The scenes were changed and food was brought into the picture.  The pirates were then chasing women carrying pies, while the overweight woman was given a rolling pin and she tried to attack the pirate.

Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 2006 - 01 Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 2006 - 02

In 2006, several classic parts of Pirates of the Caribbean were changed, starting with the removal of the barker bird that once stood outside of the ride and advertised it to the crowds.  The eerie "dead men tell no tales" voice was removed from the caves, and no longer would a skull and crossbones warn us about the drop.  Captain Barbossa replaced the pirate captain on the ship, Jack Sparrow replaced a woman who hid in a large barrel, and the ending with drunk pirates looting the treasure room was changed to Jack Sparrow enjoying the riches to himself.  Throughout the ride, almost all of the pirates' dialogue was changed to that reflecting the whereabouts of Jack Sparrow and the search for treasure.

Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 2006 - 03 Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 2006 - 04

Despite the political correctness and other changes to the ride, Pirates of the Caribbean is still a fantastic ride and one of the best attractions in the Magic Kingdom.  Be warned that the crowds love this ride (especially this newer version with characters from the Pirates films), and wait times can reach 45 minutes or longer during busy days.

The biggest problem with riding this ride when it's busy is your boat being full of people.  Unfortunately, much of today's park guests don't know how to shut up and not use their phones or flash photography during rides.  This can be especially annoying on a dark ride such as Pirates of the Caribbean.  The best way to avoid those morons is to ride Pirates in the late afternoon and at night.  Wait times are an absolute minimum at night, and any fellow riders on your boat are most likely too tired to talk or take pictures.  You'll be able to not only enjoy the ride better, but it'll be much easier to hear to the music and dialogue as well.

Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 2013 - 01 Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean - 2013 - 02

No visit to the Magic Kingdom is complete without at least one ride on Pirates of the Caribbean.  Do not miss this outstanding ride!


TIP If you're tired of loud talkers and people taking flash pictures, ride Pirates of the Caribbean at night (during or after the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes fireworks).  People are tired by that point and less likely to be annoying.  The wait time will be next to nothing, and you might even get the entire boat to yourself!


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Magic Kingdom - Adventureland - Pirates of the Caribbean:

Pirates of the Caribbean - warning sign:

Pirates of the Caribbean - line queue (both sides):

Pirates of the Caribbean - loading station:

Pirates of the Caribbean - RIDE:

Pirates of the Caribbean - night:

Pirates of the Caribbean - old entrance (with the barker bird):