Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Pirates Life For Me

Continuing our tour on what Disneyland has to offer, it's time to give a special shout out, nod of the head for my favorite ride, attraction, or whatever you want to call it - Pirates of the Caribbean. A creation of Walt Disney himself, POTC shows the best of Disney imagination, creativity, and attention to detail. It is quintessential Disneyland ride. After 40 some-odd years of operation, every time I take a ride on one of those boats, I am sure to see something I have never seen or noticed before.

It was many years ago but I can recall as a small child, the first time going down that unexpected drop, the darkness, the bit of a thrill, the getting a little wet!. It's a memory I will never forget. And then the ride begins! Can you imagine building a ride that lasts over 13 minutes in 2011? It's something that will never be done again. The Little Mermaid in DCA just opened up clocking in at a whopping 2 minutes and 30 seconds or so. Goofy's Sky School? Another 2 or 3 minute ride. Even the great (and I mean great) Toy Story Mania is probably less than 5 minutes (although I am far too busy on the ride itself to actually time it). An effort like POTC  (or Haunted Mansion for the matter) will never be duplicated. Even the WDW Magic Kingdom POTC is much shorter than the original. The cost to build a ride like the original POTC would be staggering not to mention the space requirements. At full capacity, the ride can load 3300 guests an hour. It's still tops in both parks for the number of guests that it can handle.

And even though it's been tweaked over the years with the last major refurbishment bringing the new "politically correctness" and the inclusion of the Captain Jack/Barbosa animontronics, the ride has always remained true to its story line. As for the Pirates theme itself, well, you can argue the point. The real pirates romanticized in the ride (and the movies) really were cut-throats, murderers, thieves, drunkards and generally led a debaucherous life that would appeal to few with modern sensibilites and the glory days of pirating was relatively short running from the late 1600's to the early 1700's.

But history aside, what Disney has done with the POTC franchise is marketing genius. They took Walt's original concept and for almost 50 years, ran with it. The rumor is out there that POTC will close from Labor Day to Thanksgiving Day this year for refurbishment. It's amazing to read about how many people would consider postponing their trip with the ride closed. It is that good.

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