Controversial Pirates of the Caribbean Expansion Approved, New Disney Characters Replace Jack Sparrow

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

A group of people wait in line under hanging lanterns at the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The ride's sign, featuring tattered black cloth with orange text, is prominently displayed above the queue. The architecture is themed with arches and wooden beams.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Things are changing at Magic Kingdom, and the future of Pirates of the Caribbean is about to encounter a massive shift.

Auction scene featuring Pirate Redd, the auctioneer, and townspeople in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

Pirates of the Caribbean stands as one of Disney’s most significant and influential achievements. Initially launched as a groundbreaking Disneyland attraction, its immense popularity led Disney to create a film series inspired by the ride, rather than the more common reverse approach. Today, every Disney park features a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, and the iconic song, “Yo Ho Yo Ho a pirate’s life for me,” has become a staple in Disney’s cultural legacy.

The attraction first opened at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, in 1967, and was an instant success. Despite initial concerns that Floridians, being close to the Caribbean, might find the attraction too familiar, guests at Walt Disney World Resort eagerly demanded its inclusion.

Pirates of the Caribbean is situated in the Adventureland section of the Magic Kingdom, where it immerses guests in a meticulously crafted 17th-century Caribbean pirate harbor. The detailed setting, complete with imposing fortresses, lively taverns, and picturesque waterfront views, transports visitors to the golden age of piracy.

Notably, Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the few Disney attractions developed without an existing intellectual property (IP) as its basis. Most modern attractions, like Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, derive from existing Disney films and bring beloved characters to life. However, Pirates of the Caribbean originated purely as a ride, which later inspired the creation of a film series, much like The Haunted Mansion, which also spawned movie adaptations.

Pirates in the jail with the dog Pirates of the Caribbean Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World
Credit: Disney

The attraction received significant updates following the success of the film franchise, with the introduction of the character Jack Sparrow, portrayed by Johnny Depp, who became an iconic figure.

The Pirates of the Caribbean film series has achieved remarkable box office success, grossing over $4.5 billion across five films. The franchise ranks 16th all-time in box office revenue, largely due to Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow.

The franchise set sail in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, featuring the charismatic Captain Jack Sparrow. The films seamlessly blend humor, supernatural elements, and thrilling action, creating an enchanting world of pirates, curses, and treacherous seas.

The success of the first film led to several sequels, including Dead Man’s Chest (2006), At World’s End (2007), On Stranger Tides (2011), and Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). Characters like Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) have become cultural icons.

Anticipation has been high for news regarding Pirates of the Caribbean 6 and Johnny Depp’s potential involvement. Disney has confirmed plans for a sixth installment but has seemingly severed ties with Depp following allegations from his ex-wife, Amber Heard. During his trial, Depp declared he wouldn’t return to Disney even for $300 million. Despite his acquittal, Disney remains noncommittal about his return.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow
Credit: Disney

The decision to distance from Depp before the trial’s conclusion, where he was found not guilty, has sparked outrage among fans. Many are boycotting the franchise, and petitions demanding Depp’s return have garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Despite the controversies, Pirates of the Caribbean remains a monumental part of Disney’s legacy, continuing to captivate audiences worldwide both in theme parks and on the silver screen.

Now, it has been confirmed that Tortuga Tavern has closed permanently.

This was one of the food locations in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme to it, and we likely know why the location has shuttered its doors forever.

Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort is set to welcome its first-ever lounge, themed after the beloved Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Announced at the 2023 Destination D23 event, details surrounding this exciting new offering remain scarce, but initial insights point towards a unique experience.

Disney has promised this “first-of-its-kind experience” will extend the Pirates of the Caribbean story. This suggests a deeper narrative connection compared to existing themed restaurants like Skipper Canteen in Adventureland, where the Jungle Cruise skippers act as servers.

Leading the way will be a “new” character – Barker Bird, a green parrot sporting a pirate hat and anchor tattoo. This choice allows for a mascot with long-term potential independent of any specific actor.

A colorful parrot sits atop a pirate's shoulder in a lively tavern bustling with activity and camaraderie among seafarers.
Credit: D23

Speculation suggests the lounge might introduce alcohol service in a non-table service setting, a first for Magic Kingdom’s quick service offerings. This would cater to a broader audience seeking a unique pirate-themed libation experience.

While an official location hasn’t been announced, Tortuga Tavern, situated near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, emerges as a strong contender. Its relative underperformance compared to other quick-service restaurants could pave the way for a successful conversion.

While Captain Jack Sparrow is a mainstay outside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, his involvement in the lounge remains unconfirmed. Disney’s focus on original, non-actor-dependent characters for the lounge, like Redd, suggests a long-lasting narrative independent of any specific film franchise iteration.

The arrival of the Pirates of the Caribbean lounge in Magic Kingdom promises a thrilling new chapter for park-goers. This concise version maintains a professional tone, focuses on key details, and keeps the content focused on the lounge itself.

Are you sad to see Tortuga Tavern go? 

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