Pirates of the Caribbean
Opened: December 15, 1973
Location: Across from Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland. As you’re walking to Frontierland from Adventureland, you’ll see it on the left after passing Enchanted Tiki Room. From Frontierland, it’s located on the right before you arrive at Aladdin’s Magical Carpets or Jungle Cruise.
Extra Magic Hours: Evening
Type: Dark ride
Similar To: Living with the Land, only with pirates. Or an indoor Jungle Cruise with fewer animals and more pirates.
Scary Factor: Low. Pirates of the Caribbean shouldn’t scare most kids. As you might expect, there are about 60 animatronic pirates throughout the ride, so if your tyke has a particular fear of pirates then this ride may present a problem. There is a short 14 foot drop at the beginning of the ride, but it’s entirely benign and shouldn’t upset anyone. The rest of the ride is smooth sailing, so to speak.
What to Expect: The queue for Pirates of the Caribbean is inside and air-conditioned, which makes it a great candidate for an afternoon visit. The queue isn’t among the most interesting, but there are a few things to look at and it generally moves fast. Once you make it to the front of the line, you will board a boat that slowly meanders through the Pirate infested waters. Be aware that some of the scenes are violent and do feature gun fire and cannon blasts. It’s also dark throughout, but the scenes are well-lit and it’s always easy to see where you’re traveling. In 2006, Disney updated Pirates of the Caribbean with characters from the movie of the same name. You’ll now see Jack Sparrow throughout the ride as well as a special appearance by Davy Jones.
Where to Sit: Request the front row for the clearest views. Because most of what’s going on is located to the sides of the boat, all rows have a similar view of what’s going on. Those seated in the back shouldn’t get wet at all. The front row may see a bit more spray, particularly after the short drop.
When To Go: Consider saving this one for the late afternoon or evening. Lines are relatively short and the queue and ride are among the coolest (temperature wise) at the Magic Kingdom. Pirates is usually a walk-on during evening Extra Magic Hours as well, especially in the last hour. Consider returning for a second or third ride then.
Expect to Wait: Lines are usually under 20 minutes, but may peak in the 30 minute range. Actual waits are often shorter than what’s posted. During Peak and Holiday season the lines will be longer. Wait times of 50 minutes aren’t unheard of when the overall crowd level is a 9 or above and Magic Kingdom isn’t recommended. Return later if the line exceeds 20 minutes.
Madame Tussaud Anyone? Interestingly enough, Pirates of the Caribbean was originally planned as a wax museum at Disneyland in California. It was never intended to be part of Disney World at all because Disney thought Orlando was too close to the actual Caribbean to be of enough interest. Instead, Disney planned a similar attraction featuring cowboys and Indians for the Magic Kingdom. So many guests complained about the lack of a Pirates ride in Orlando that Disney ultimately chose to build a similar attraction to the original in Disneyland. Pirates of the Caribbean is also the last ride Walt Disney personally worked on.
Length: 10 minutes
Commentary: Pirates of the Caribbean is an amazingly immersive experience and one of Disney’s best, most classic attractions. You will almost never see anyone leave Pirates without a smile on their face and it is many people’s favorite ride. It’s also easily accessible and guests of any age should thoroughly enjoy it. It may still upset the most prone to fear and anxiety because it does get dark and loud in certain parts. You may also not be able to convince them that there won’t be a large drop like in Splash Mountain, even though there isn’t one. All in all, Pirates is a must-visit.