News of attraction refurbishments at Disney World can prove the best or worst of news. Popular rides like Spaceship Earth, Space Mountain, and Star Tours have all benefited from excellent upgrades. Other refurbishments, however, have resulted in the cringeworthy Journey into YOUR Imagination, Stitch’s Great Escape, and The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management).
There are times when Disney does everything right on an attraction upgrade, but amid needed changes, they lose just a little bit of the magic. These aren’t cases of epic fails. However, those with a sharp eye and a spirit for nostalgia may lament these minor flubs in updates to popular rides.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean – The tale of Captain Jack Sparrow
When Pirates of the Caribbean was adapted to the big screen, no one expected a decade-long successful movie franchise. Captain Jack Sparrow earned the adoration of fans worldwide and quickly became a Disney mainstay. It came as no surprise when Disney announced plans to update Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean to incorporate the enigmatic captain.
There’s several things to like about the update. Passing through the fog-outlined faces of Davy Jones and Blackbeard is a great moment, as is the addition of Barbossa’s voice to the pirate ship scene (granted, it is odd the ship doesn’t have the Black Pearl’s namesake black sails). As expected, Captain Jack is sprinkled liberally throughout the journey.
There’s one problem. For reasons unknown, Disney decided the best way to add Jack to the story was to have characters throughout the attraction repeat the full name “Captain Jack Sparrow” every 2-3 sentences. On a recent excursion, I counted hearing it around seven times.
References to Jack are to be expected, but the additions sound very unnatural. He’s never called “Jack” or “Captain Sparrow”. It’s always “Captain Jack Sparrow”. There’s a distinct marketing vibe to the dialogue, and to make the issue worse, when we see Jack lounging atop a pile of treasure at the end, instead of sounding like his normal glib self, he’s oddly monotone-- an unsmiling, blank-eyed caricature.
While the addition of Captain Jack to the ride was a welcomed addition, the heavy-handed branding ends up distracting rather than enhancing the Pirates experience.