Pirates of the Caribbean Officially Removed From Disneyland, Replacement Confirmed

in Disneyland Resort

Pirates of the Caribbean

Credit: Disney

On Friday, Fantasmic! returns to Disneyland Park after a year-long hiatus. The show paused in 2023 when a devastating fire engulfed the beloved show’s Maleficient dragon figure, totaling the pricey animatronic.

Unfortunately, Maleficient’s return won’t be as triumphant as her departure. Sorcerer Mickey Mouse still battles the Sleeping Beauty (1959) villain, but the iconic “Murphy” animatronic won’t appear in the reimagined Maleficient scene. For now, Walt Disney World Resort is the only United States Disney park with a functional Fantasmic! dragon.

The Maleficent dragon catches fire at Fantasmic in Disneyland
Credit: Hailey Manligiis

Days ahead of Fantasmic! ’s premiere, Disneyland Resort revealed a few sneak peeks at the reimagined show–and Maleficient isn’t the only change. According to a report from The Los Angeles Times, Walt Disney Imagineers replaced Pirates of the Caribbean characters with a formerly classic scene inspired by Peter Pan (1953).

Fantasmic! ’s Temporary Closure

Before diving into the new Peter Pan sequence, let’s look back at the fire that changed the Disney parks forever. Guests reported seeing hydraulic fluid dripping from the Maleficient animatronic moments before it burst into flames. Within minutes, the dragon was engulfed and clearly destroyed.

Disney quickly cast members evacuated guests from Disneyland Park, and no one was injured. Disney parks suspended pyrotechnics worldwide in the wake of the Disneyland Resort fire, including those in Fantasmic! at Walt Disney World Resort’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios. All fire special effects have since returned.

The incident eerily resembled a 2018 fire in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort. A Maleficient parade float caught fire during Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade, sending terrified guests running from Liberty Square.


Bye Bye, Pirates of the Caribbean

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow
Credit: Disney

The return of Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, Wendy Darling, and Captain Hook means that Captain Jack Sparrow will have to walk the plank. The iconic Johnny Depp character joined Fantasmic! in 2017, replacing the original Peter Pan sequence.

The change comes amidst ongoing controversy about the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. The 56-year-old Adventureland ride has undergone numerous changes throughout the years, including the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow. In 2018, Walt Disney Imagineers removed a sexist bride auction scene and turned the women into female pirates bartering stolen goods.

Despite the changes, certain guests find Pirates of the Caribbean outdated and offensive. Some call for Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort to permanently close the ride.

The auctioneer in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort holding a whip in his hand with a woman from the town holding a hen and a basked of eggs and a pirate beside him
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

“I just think this is kind of a weird ride,” one guest said, stating that she felt “ogled” by the animatronics. “I don’t know… It’s just a little bit rapey.”

Welcome Back, Peter Pan

Walt Disney Imagineering didn’t publicize its reasons for replacing the Pirates of the Caribbean scene with Peter PanIt’s unclear whether the new sequence is the same as the one retired in 2017 or if Imagineers updated it.

“With the Lost Boys in tow, Peter and Wendy will take on Captain Hook, climaxing with a swashbuckling battle,” The LA Times writes.

Peter Pan in Disney Stars on Parade
Credit: Disney

But Peter Pan isn’t without controversy–it even features a cultural sensitivity warning on Disney+. Native American activists have long criticized the film’s treatment of Tiger Lily and other indigenous characters. When Imagineers designed Fantasmic! for Walt Disney World Resort, they didn’t include a Peter Pan sequence.

Still, it would seem that Disneyland Resort decided it’s better for kids to admire a Lost Boy than a rogue pirate.

Belle and Beast from Beauty and the Beast performing on Fantasmic! at Disneyland Park
Credit: Disney

Fantasmic! returns to Disneyland Park on Friday, May 24. Check out the Disneyland Resort website for information on the Fantasmic! dining packages available at Blue Bayou, River Belle Terrace, and Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant.

Do you prefer Pirates of the Caribbean or Peter Pan in Fantasmic!? In the comments, share your thoughts about the updated Disney Park show with Inside the Magic. 

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