It’s been a long summer without the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at the Magic Kingdom, but fall has finally arrived and this world class attraction is once again operational. Though the refurbishment ended up being much shorter than originally planned (it was originally supposed to last almost six months!), it looks like a lot has been done in the three months that this attraction spent in refurbishment.
While nothing has changed about the core experience of the ride (Jack Sparrow fans can take heart as this character still features prominently), guests who board a Pirates of the Caribbean boat in the near future will notice several exciting new elements of this ride. Even if you've been on Pirates of the Caribbean 100 times in the past five years, you've never seen the attraction look like it does now! Here's everything that has changed during the refurbishment:
1. Everyone gets a new outfit!
Though we absolutely love the classic look of Pirates of the Caribbean, when this attraction went down for refurbishment, many of the costumes used in the ride were looking a little…dusty. However, now it looks like most of the prominent characters (and even a few in the background) have been given all-new outfits with plenty of color that is sure to draw guests’ eyes. Even the iconic redhead has been given a wardrobe refresh, and is looking more ravashing than ever!
Eagle-eyed fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series will also note that the Barbossa animatronic has been changed into the character's “On Stranger Tides” garb, instead of the generic outfit he was wearing previously. Of course, Jack Sparrow's outfit hasn't been changed, but then again, his look has remained pretty constant throught the films, so that isn't surprising.
2. Lighting changes
Believe it or not, lighting can make a big impact in attractions and is often the difference between a good attraction and a great one. One recent example of this is Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid at the Magic Kingdom, which had bright lights throughout when it was first opened. Sadly, this lighting choice made the initial ride experience feel artificial, and many guests complained that this ride wasn't as immersive as it could have been, simply because it was just too bright. However, after a month-long refurbishment at the beginning of 2015, new lighting effects were installed at this attraction that helped the animatronics “pop” against a darkened background, and also helped hide some of the animatronic support structures, which were visible in the bright lighting that was previously used. The ride also made extensive use of blacklight effects to help create a glowing effect.
Similarly, several lighting upgrades have been installed at Pirates of the Caribbean that help highlight the various characters and settings against a darker background. Though there aren't any blacklight effects, there is much more contrast in the different scenes, and as a result guests should feel more immersed in this attraction than ever and can focus clearly on the action happening all around them.
3. A softer drop
One of the biggest guest complaints about the Magic Kingdom's version of Pirates of the Caribbean is the jarring drop that appears near the beginning of the ride that shocks guests with a sudden stop at the base of a gentle slide. Though it isn't a large drop, some guests have found the stop at the bottom to be just a little bit too intense to be comfortable, reporting that this effect takes them out of what is otherwise a pleasant, gentle dark ride.
However, this newest refurbishment has smoothed out this part of the ride. Though a little splash is still possible (especially if guest weight is unevenly distributed in the boat), the drop is less pronounced in the newly-refurbished version of the ride, and guests won't feel a jarring jolt at the base of the slide down anymore.
4. Smoother animatronics
Though Disney is still using last-generation audio animatronics in Pirates of the Caribbean (which is probably a good thing....can you imagine animated faces in this ride??), the next time you see the animatronics in this attraction they'll look much different than you remember. Almost all of the prominent audio animatronics have been overhauled and are moving in a much smoother, more natural way and with greater frequency. It's hard to remember a time when everything was really moving on Pirates of the Caribbean, but now that the refurbishment has been completed, it looks like everything is moving for the first time in many years.
It might sound a little cheezy, but these updated animatronics help breathe new life into this classic attraction. Action scenes come alive with the updated animatronics, and though the scenes themselves are unchanged, the enhanced animatronics give guests much more to look at, and make this attraction genuinely exciting again.
The changes that weren't made...
Before Pirates of the Caribbean went down for refurbishment, there was a big rumor that this attraction could be getting an overhauled ride system, possibly in response to a number of safety incidents that happened earlier this year. However, when the ride reopened this week the boats were all the same, and there were no changes to the physical structure of the system itself.
Another rumor that was floating around prior to this attraction's reopening was that the final treasure room scene with Jack Sparrow was going to be changed. However, that ended up not happening either, with the final show scene still remaining completely in tact.
Not all refurbishments are created equal, and while refurbishments may simply clean up existing attractions without changing much, this refurbishment has elevated Pirates of the Caribbean from simply a great ride at the Magic Kingdom back to being an essential attraction at the park. While you may have been on this ride in the past few years, this refurbishment completely changes this attraction for the better and definitely makes Pirates of the Caribbean a "must-do" again! Are you excited to check out this new, refurbished attraction?