Since its opening day on March 18, 1967, Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland has been updated multiple times. In 1997 the “Pooped Pirate” became the “Gluttonous Pirate” and the woman in the barrel was exchanged for a cat. Also around this time some of the pirates on the turn tables were switched so the women would be chasing the pirates instead of the other way around. In 2006, animatronics of Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Hector Barbossa were added and Davy Jones began appearing on a mist screen. When Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides came out, Davy Jones was switched out for Blackbeard. This change didn’t last long and Davy Jones is back on a new and improved mist screen.
Pirates is not the same as when Walt Disney walked through it many years ago; so it’s no surprise that Disney has announced another update. In 2018, during a scheduled refurbishment, the auctioneer scene will be changed from selling brides to selling loot. A scene known for a beautiful redhead and one of the best animatronics in the park (the auctioneer) is beloved by many. Sadly, buying a wench for a bride will no longer be an option for these pirates. Instead, the auctioneer will be auctioning off loot with the help of a new redheaded pirate. This change will take place in the Pirates attractions at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris.
This change brings a lot of controversy among Disney fans and critics. As we know, the parks are always changing and evolving to make the attractions better. Marty Sklar, an Imagineer and Disney Legend, explains it perfectly: “To me, the Imagineers are simply reflecting what Walt started the day Disneyland opened – making changes that create exciting new experiences for our guests. I can’t think of a single attraction that has not been enhanced and improved, some over and over again. Change is a ‘tradition’ at Disneyland that today’s Imagineers practice – they learned it from their mentors, many of them Walt’s original team of storytellers and designers – the Disney Legends. Pirates of the Caribbean has always represented great Disney Park storytelling; it has set the standard for the theme park industry for half a century! But it’s a story you can continue to add fun to, with great characters in new ‘performances.’ That’s what the Imagineers have done with this new auction scene – it’s like a theatre show with a new act.”
Though it is always sad to see things change, I’m excited to see what the Imagineers are doing to make Pirates of the Caribbean even better.