The Pirates of the Caribbean... one of my favorite rides ever. It's a classic - but not for long. If you're a fan of that particular attraction at Disneyland like I am, you better get to it one last time before March 6 to say your final farewell. The Pirates of the Caribbean that you've grown to love will be no more. No, they're not getting rid of it, but the word from Disney is that it will be closed from March 6 to June 16 for "major refurbishments and show updates."
Show updates? What does that mean? A while back, legendary Disney animator Marc Davis did some pirate-themed sketches for Disney's Imagineering department. Those drawings inspired many of the scenes in the current Pirate attraction. Those scenes were so likeable that the ride itself eventually inspired a "Pirates of the Caribbean" film that you undoubtedly saw and probably own on DVD. I assume you've seen it, because it made $650 million at the worldwide box office, and that means pretty much everyone took part. And rightfully so... a fine film. But then the film's popularity surpassed the ride's popularity. Enter the idiots...
In the years since the release of the film, hosts and hostesses at City Hall in each of the Disney parks have fielded thousands of complaints that Captain Jack Sparrow never appears in his own ride. "Why would you base a ride on a movie and never even have your main character in it?" A simple answer: the movie was based on the ride. You're an idiot. Go home. But Disney doesn't think that way. In their minds, with at least two more Pirate film sequels in the works, they see this as the perfect opportunity to advertise the movies. And if that requires them to change the ride to match the movie that was originally inspired by the ride... well, that's exactly what they're doing.
How much are they going to change? That I don't know. Originally I had heard that the only change to the attraction would be the inclusion of one audio-animatronic "Captain Jack," but recent wording has me feeling a little nervous about what they plan to do... as stated above: "major refurbishments and show updates." If the changes are minimal, I suppose it's possible that I'll even like them. Supposedly Johnny Depp has even agreed to supply the voice for the new character, which is more than we can say for Indiana Jones in the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. But if they change a lot of one of my favorite rides, I'm going to be very disappointed. No - Disney doesn't have to run their decisions on this kind of thing by me, but it would certainly be nice. After all, in the dedication of Disneyland, Walt himself said, "Disneyland is your land." Stop messing with my land, Disney!
Luckily Disney's "Haunted Mansion" film didn't do well at the box office. If it had, they were planning on replacing Eleanor Audley (the voice of Maleficent in "Sleeping Beauty") with Jennifer Tilly for the part of Madame Leota. Her? I'm sure that a few of the dumber park guests have complained that Eddie Murphy isn't featured in the Haunted Mansion attraction... not an audio-animatronic figure, but the actual Eddie Murphy. He's pretty busy making Shrek movies, but perhaps they could get him on loan from Dream Works for several days a week.
So let's hope that the changes to Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean will be minimal. It's a shame to change a classic ride just to meet the expectations of a few disgruntled members of the generally idiotic public. If it ends up being cool, I'll apologize for these comments later. But for now it seems like Bambi II and the multiple upcoming Tinkerbell films... just another example of Disney's inability to leave perfect enough alone.