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4 Crucial Changes You'll Notice the Next Time You Ride Pirates of the Caribbean

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. 

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There are 37 comments.

too bad about the drop.

the drop used to be bigger then they keep making it smaller! Really what a waste!

The drop is the exact same height it's always been. It just takes the boats a bit longer to fall down it.

I wonder why the fantastic picture of Davy Jones in the water was removed from the beginning of the ride. It was the best thing about the ride. And to me the drop was not near big enough and now they have made it "smoother" not good

Davy Jones is there. He wasn't there before. The mist curtain image cycles between Davy Jones and Blackbeard now. The drop is the same height, it just takes the boats a bit longer to begin falling.

We wants the redhead.

It's not rum I be spongin' for!!

Love this ride,,, We want's the Redhead

The drop was absolutely fine.....no clue why they had to change it. It was nothing........this is my favorite ride. Next time I go I'll see if I feel a difference.

Was just on the ride. The drop is very less impressive and definately not a memorable feature of the ride anymore :(

We wants the Redhead. And WE wants mermaids!! Come on Disney!

If they didn't change the boats, does that mean they still won't use the last row?

When did they not use the last row? I rode in April and was in the last row.

How is the ride open when it is still listed as closed for refurbishment and I have been there the past 2 days and it's still been closed.

I retract my comment as I did not notice this is for WDW and not DLR. My apologies.

I'm going to miss "the drop" it was one of my favorite parts of the ride, sort of set the tone for the "adventure".

Love this ride, shame about the drop

I just came back from Disney and unfortunately didnt get to ride this. It opened back up the next day. I had a very much less than stellar experience there this time around. Sorry, but you aught to put some effort into training.

I rode Pirates yesterday. Everything was bright and clean. It was almost like riding it for the first time all over again. I didn't notice a huge difference in the drop.

Okay. About this drop issue, I remember the first time I rode this ride, back in the early eighties, the drop was fast and steep. I almost lost my camera! Then in the nineties on a return visit the drop was short and not steep. I remember I warned an older lady on the ride to be prepared for the drop. After the ride she warned me not to go on Splash Mountain if that drop disturbed me! So, my question is, has the drop ever changed over the years? I have been told by employees that is has not, and I have heard from others that it has. Does anyone know the true story?

The boats absolutely did change. Actually seem a lot roomier and have molded plastic hand holds instead of the bar.

George isn't real.

Say goodnight to him anyway, just in case.

Disappointed to read about a smoother drop. The drop was one of my favorite parts.

Softer drop???

Oh, come on, wimps!

During the last refurbishment - or the one before - the made much of the cavern scene as dark as a closet to where you might as well have been because it was pitch dark. I was wondering who in the world was getting paid the high imagineer salary to do that, because it did not take a Hollywood set designer to know that it was too dark. I hope they fixed that.

But just to comment, the concept art for Pirates was done by Disney Legend Mark Davis (who also animated Cinderella) and the story line and song were written by another Disney Legend, Xavier Atencio. Mark Davis once said, "whenever they change it, it's not as good." And after another change, X Antencio called it "Boy Scouts of the Caribbean. These men worked with Walt Disney himself and were two of his greatest and most trusted imagineers. So if the current Disney management won't even listen to Disney Legends, they probably wouldn't even listen to Walt Disney himself, were he still here and perhaps only retired. In any case, when I remember that I don't feel as bad when they don't listen to me. It seems arrogant of them that they didn't listen to Disney Legends, but I don't feel as bad.

The drop felt the same to me, and in the front row I got pretty soaked, where I had never been before. We didn't have a boat of "larger" guests, and the water seemed higher around the boat. I have still never seen a mermaid on the ride (besides the mermaid skeletons).

The evil mermaids are in the water off to the left side of the boat when you hear their eerie music, look down and you'll see their shadow of them swimming under the surface of the water,It's really just a shadow.

I loved looking for the mermaids on our last trip. The left side of the boat is the best place to see the shadow under the water while you hear them singing that eerie song. My favorite part is the mist of Blackbeard's face. I'm a big Ian Mc Shane fan.

I liked the drop just the way it was!

I'm kind of happy about the drop. Sorry, I'm no wimp, but I get motion sickness, and even that small drop is tough for me. I don't get to do most of the rides at any park; sorry all of you that get to ride them are irritated that POTC may not give you as much of a thrill, but instead of griping, perhaps be happy that you have no issues that prevent you from riding ALL the other rides!

I'm with you, Karen. Ditto.

Rode it earlier this month and Jack Sparrow didn't look the same. I remember when I first rode the newer version with capt Jack that it looked just like Johnny Depp. Now, it know longer looks as much like him. Anyone else notice this? My girlfriend and cousins say the same thing. We are all big Disney nuts.

We were there 2 weeks ago. Pirates looked great! The lighting and costumes were updated. We all noticed a small difference in the drop. Not a huge difference, but there was nothing wrong with it before. That was something that was better before. We did not feel this was a good update.

We rode last week and we noticed that the dogs all looked new and fluffy. They no longer look moth eaten.

I wish they'd have ditched the Sparrow and Barbosa additions and put it back to the ride we loved....the one which inspired the movies, rather than the update with all the movie updates.

Updating the costumes, great. Modernizing the animatronics, great. Even smoothing out the drop (who complains about that?! I mean...should I complain that Expedition Everest is too dark?), fine...whateves.

Adding Sparrow and Barbosa initially was not necessary. (And actually, the Davy Jones smokescreen annoyed me more than anything else about that ride.....I hope to heck it is gone!)

Was just there the 20th through the 26th of October. We were in the second row back...after the hill, the lady in front of us was soaked and my entire right side got a shower too. I also missed the mermaids this time, they didn't seem to be working although the siren song could be heard.

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