Disney Abandons New Pirates of the Caribbean Ride, Johnny Depp Replaced

in Disney Parks

Pirates of the Caribbean Jack Sparrow on ride

Credit: Disney

If you have ever been to a Disney park, you know that there are attractions that can be found at nearly any location.

Pirates in jail on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World
Credit: Disney

Haunted Mansion, for example, is represented at all theme parks. At some locations, like Walt Disney World and Disneyland, the ride is simply titled Haunted Mansion and takes guests for a tour with Master Gracey. Other parks do have alternate storylines, like Disneyland Paris, which has Phantom Manor, a similar style attraction with an entirely different storyline, that focus’ on a killer phantom and a bride, with a much more twisted and gruesome tale.

Another attraction that we can find represented around the globe is Pirates of the Caribbean. 

pirates of the caribbean ride exterior
Credit: Disney

The ride started at Disneyland Park, originally and more colloquially known as Disneyland, is the first and original Disney theme park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California and is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company. Created by brothers Walt and Roy Disney, Disneyland has become the world’s most famous themed amusement park and one of the most visited sites in the world.

It first opened at Disneyland in 1967 and was the largest audio-animatronic project to date and the last attraction in which Walt Disney had any involvement in the design.

The attraction was originally conceived as a wax museum and a walk-through adventure. But following the success of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, and “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Walt Disney and his team of Imagineers decided that audio-animatronics, his latest animation technology, was the most imaginative way to tell a rousing pirate story.

Pirates of the Caribbean became so popular, that it was then decided that the ride would find a home at Magic Kingdom as well.

When guests ride, they can typically expect to see the following scenes:

  • Pirates Grotto – Home to Dead Man’s Cove and Hurricane Lagoon, this haunted realm recalls the struggles pirates endured on the open seas.
  • The Fort – Navigate through a shadowy bay, where a foggy Caribbean fort and a striking 12-gun galleon, helmed by Captain Barbossa, are locked in battle.
  • Town Square – Sail straight past a crowded marketplace of rambunctious scalawags, gleefully bidding in an auction for a bride.
  • Burning City – Looters and buccaneers sing a song of jubilation as flames engulf a seaside town.
  • The Dungeon – Trapped in a jail cell, freebooters attempt to lure a confused dog within reach to nab the prison keys he has in his mouth
Pirates of the Caribbean
Credit: Disney

Pirates of the Caribbean was initially imagined as an original attraction and was not based on a movie, but rather, had a movie created based on the attraction. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest debuted in 2006, and with much success, audiences flocked to the attraction. Although the ride shared the same name and was about pirates, the iconic characters like Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightly), Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), and more were not featured in the swashbuckling ride.

Disney then decided to make a change.

All Disney Pirates of the Caribbean attractions would get an IP overlay, with the rides now starring Captain Jack Sparrow at every turn. The Johnny Depp animatronic proved to be incredibly popular, as the story now revolved around his quest to find the treasure.

As Johnny Depp’s character was the only one to last through all films: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), it was incredibly advantageous for Disney to have the Jack Sparrow animatronics dominate the attraction.

Again, the American Disney parks were not the only ones to have Jack Sparrow take over their ride. Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure is located in Shanghai Disneyland, there is also a Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris, as well as Tokyo Disneyland.

There is one park, however, that does not have a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction: Hong Kong Disneyland.

Hong Kong Disneyland's park entrance
Credit: Disney

The Disney resort has attracted more than 85 million guests since it opened, bringing Disney magic with its main theme park — Hong Kong Disneyland Park — Disney Hotels such as Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, and Disney Explorer’s Lodge, and many other attractions and entertainment. Next year, will see the return of fireworks at the Castle of Magical Dreams in Fantasyland — formerly, Sleeping Beauty Castle. The new show will be called Cherish the Memories.

Hong Kong Disneyland Park will welcome new attractions to its portfolio in the near future. Arendelle: World of Frozen will open behind Fantasyland and boast two rides — a sleigh-style family rollercoaster and a dark-ride similar to the Frozen Ever After attraction in EPCOT, Walt Disney World. Joining the Frozen-themed destination will be the currently-expanding Marvel area in Tomorrowland, Stark Expo, which already features the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters replacement, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle!

elsa and anna at world of frozen hong kong disneyland resized
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Similar to other Magic Kingdom theme park areas across the globe like Disneyland Park in California and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park, Hong Kong Disneyland Park features popular rides like Mystic Manor at Mystic Point — a less spooky iteration of the Haunted Mansion attraction — and Fantasyland’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The latter saw Guests having to evacuate and walk along the track at another Disney Park earlier this year. Hong Kong Disneyland also includes areas like Toy Story Land.

The park has many similarities, but Pirates of the Caribbean is not one. That being said, it was not always the case.

Imagineer Jim Shull shared a concept model for the ride that was being planned for the park. This Pirates of the Caribbean was far different from what we have seen before.

This is a fine example of work WDI dimensional design produces using a soft carving foam or ‘yellow foam’. The foam turns dark and brittle upon exposer to UV light and air. This discovered image shows a concept for a Pirates of the Caribbean ride. #HongKongDisneyland

As we can see in the photo, this Pirates of the Caribbean looked a lot more like the Splash Mountain-style attraction (soon to be Tiana’s Bayou Adventure) that we have seen in the parks.

Sadly, the attraction never came to fruition, which may be for the best as Disney is now seemingly attempting to scrub the iconic Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Johnny Depp has been the face of the franchise for years, but after his abuse allegations arose from ex-wife Amber Heard, Disney decided to give their iconic actor the boot. They did this before a verdict was reached, which was a major mistake, as Depp was not found guilty.

Pirates of the Caribbean 6 is being written by Last of Us creator Craig Mazin, but will seemingly not have Depp in the picture, which has sent fans ablaze.

Pirates of the Caribbean Jack Sparrow on ride
Credit: Disney

Many are boycotting the franchise moving forward, and hundreds of thousands have signed petitions to bring the actor back.

In the past, Depp revealed that not even for $300 million would he return to Disney. During his trial, it was quoted, “The fact is, Mr. Depp, if Disney came to you with $300 million and a million alpacas, nothing on this earth would get you to go back and work with Disney on a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film? Correct?” the lawyer asked. “That is true, Mr. Rottenborn,” Depp replied.

Recently, we shared that Disney is now seemingly also attempting to erase Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow with their new Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise line. ShopDisney as well as Magic Kingdom, have dropped a new Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise line, and from what we can see in the new artwork, Disney is moving in a direction that steers away from the films.

Johnny Depp looking distressed as Captain Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Credit: Disney

Although there are new Loungefly’s and mugs, the artwork on the clothing depicts the “Fab 5” as the Pirates of the Caribbean cast, placing Mickey Mouse in the role of Jack Sparrow. We can also see Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Goofy.

Depp’s character is still a meet-and-greet character in the parks, however, as well as a prominent feature in the rides. It is interesting to see Disney continue to promote the IP now, however, without his face involved, which hints to the future of Jack Sparrow in the park eventually being nonexistent.

Do you think Disney will scrub Johnny Depp from all Pirates of the Caribbean rides?


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