Pros: Quick moving queue; fun adventure ride
Cons: Could be scary for youngsters afraid of the dark
The Pirates of the Caribbean has always been one of my favorite rides at Disneyland. Located in the French Quarter section, the queue for this attraction begins outside of a New Orleans mansion, and continues through the building where a boat awaits you in a bayou, to take you through a pirate adventure.
As previously mentioned, the Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat ride, with minimal turbulance. There are no height or riding restrictions, so pretty much anyone can ride. This is a dark ride however, so children afraid of the dark may be a little frightened. The last time I was on this ride, there was a child behind us who was appeased when he was given a flashlight to hold. Unfortunately for us, this lighting kind of ruined the effects, but calmed his fears nonetheless.
The Pirates of the Caribbean begins as you pass by the "Blue Bayou" restaurant and into darkness, where a voice warns, "dead men tell no tales" and soon, you find yourself deep within the caves of pirate hideouts with stolen treasure. You also run the possibility of getting slightly wet (ask to sit up front if this sounds like a good idea). There are two slight "drop-offs" that will plunge you into the darkness. Once in the depths of caverns below, you will pass by pirate treasures- as in a secret hideaway of lost fortunes. Skeleton pirates battle the elements in a ghost ship and several more have seen better days. A slight background music plays, but I enjoy this part quite a bit, as it is much different (and in a better way, I think) than the Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World in Florida. There are a few other displays of skeletons as pirates in a bar seen and one perished captain in his cabin full of wonderous treasures, including an old ship organ playing a good pirate tune. There is also an amazing scene full of pirate booty, that I always believed was real treasure when I was a youngster!
As you journey past a pirate ship battle in Caribbean fort, your boat eventually takes you to the singing pirates ("yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me") as the pirates pillage a Caribbean village, much like the movie based loosely upon this ride (Pirates of the Caribbean, with Johnny Depp). And finally, you are brought back to land, past a beach with the Jolly Roger flag and a parrot perched, again, similar to the talking parrot in the movie.
Added to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction are some new characters as well. Captain Barbosa, played by Geoffrey Rush in the first and third Pirates movie franchise can now be seen on the battle scene at the Caribbean fort. Johnny Depp's character, Captain Jack Sparrow can also be seen a few times throughout the ride in the form of an animatronic character. One final addition to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is Davy Jones in a very special effect water fountain, sure to capture a few "oohs" and "ahhhs" along the way.
The wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean is typically around 10-20 minutes and I have even seen up to a 30-40 minute wait time during peak park hours (usually on a holiday or summer weekend). The good thing about this particular queue is that it tends to be fast moving. So at the very least, even with a long wait time, you won't find yourself in the same place for very long. There is even a drinking fountain to quench your thirst while waiting in line.
If you are interested in pirate paraphernalia, the gift shop Pieces of Eight is located directly across from the ride's exit. Loaded with plastic swords and pistols, pirate hats and fake jewels, this is the place to go. Aside from Downtown Disney stores, you won't find any other pirate treasures in other Disney gift shops.
If dining at the Blue Bayou is something you would like to experience, reservations are a must- make them before your trip. It's a great restaurant that overlooks the beginning of the ride. While it's not cheap, the restaurant will definitely fill you up with good food and decent sized portions. Meant to be more of a romantic setting, children are (obviously) welcomed.
Who shouldn't go on this ride? Well, as far as physical reasons, there really aren't many, however, some may possibly be upset by the presence of drunken pirates- you can see a few drinking out of what is presumably a jug of rum. The looks on the animatronic faces would also so indicate. I don't find any of it offensive, but if this is something that you don't want to have to explain to your children if they ask, then you may want to reconsider going on the Pirates of the Caribbean. All in all, it is still a Disney ride, so it's not extremely offensive, by any means.
Overall, this is a great, but mild adventure ride with all the Disney effects to make Pirates of the Caribbean enjoyable for all ages. Michael Jackson is said to have a replica of this very ride at his Neverland Ranch. Occasionally, Disneyland will update/refurbish Pirates of the Caribbean- my sister and I always get a kick out of trying to figure out if anything has been changed or modified since our last visit. The effects are not super high tech, but Disney does a good job keeping things clean and working properly.
Highly recommended, no trip to Disneyland is complete without a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. It is my all time favorite ride at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, combined.
A few more details on Disneyland, should you be interested...