Magic Kingdom's Adventureland - Part Three of Three
Last Thursday I discussed the architecture of the Agrabah section of Adventureland and The Flying Carpets of Aladdin, the Sunshine Tree Terrace, tiki gods, and why Pirates of the Caribbean was added to the Magic Kingdom as an afterthought. Today I'll continue where I left off.
I have never written an article about the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and I probably never will. The topic is just too large to cover in a two or three-part blog. In fact, an entire book has been written on this subject. If you're interested in a detailed history of this attraction, check out Amazon and look for "Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies" by Jason Surrell. I have this book and it is very interesting and chock-full of wonderful information and illustrations. Although I won't be writing about the attraction and its history here, I would still like to point out a few interesting facts found in this area.
The structure that houses Pirates is called Castillo del Morro. The Imagineers based many elements of this fortress on Castillo de San Felipe del Morro located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The clock tower is named Torre del Cielo. This means Tower of the Sky. It is styled after a Caribbean-style watchtower that guarded many island harbors.
If you remember your Disneyland history, you know that an AudioAnimatronics barker bird was placed near the entrance of the Enchanted Tiki Room when the attraction first opened to help draw guests inside.
The Imagineers did the same thing with Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom. Here, they placed a peg-legged, tattoo sporting parrot near the ride's entrance to help lure guests onto the ride. With -Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" playing in the background, this salty ol' mate said such things as:
Heave to, maties! There be long boats waiting down by Pirates Cove (whistle) ... waitin' to take ya to the Spanish Main! (squawk) Right this way! Through the arches and down past the dungeons, in the old fortress. (whistle) We sail with the tide, sail with the tide! (squawk) Don't miss the boat, maties!
If you be seeking adventure and salty old pirates, (squawks) salty old pirates, salty old pirates! (whistles) We pillage and plunder! Rifle and loot! Yo ho, me hearties, yo ho! (squawks and whistles)"
Alas, the barker parrot was removed in 2006 and moved to the "Boys Apparel and Toy" section of the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney. But a more recent remodeling of this shop has seen him disappear completely.
At the same time they removed the parrot, the Imagineers also did away with the original attraction sign and replaced it with a ship's mast and crow's nest. Stationed high above is a skeleton with spyglass, checking on all those who dare to enter his lair.
Another fixture that was removed were two pedestals with ornamental brass plates, advertising the attraction.
Even though the basic Pirate attraction was scaled down from the original at Disneyland (Disneyland 15:30 minutes / Magic Kingdom 8:30 minutes), the Magic Kingdom's version had by far the superior queue. In fact, at the time, it was the most elaborate queue ever imagined for a Disney attraction.
The queue is two sided and the sites and props are different depending on which one you enter. One bit of Disney trivia can be found on the right side. Through one of the dungeon cell windows are two skeletons playing a game of chess. Legend has it that Marc Davis carefully arranged the pieces so that any move would result in a stalemate. As neither proud player would admit to a tie, they died playing the game and are here to this day. Sometime in the 1990's, the attraction received a major refurbishment and the chess pieces were moved -- and no one knew how to correctly replace them. Then, as luck would have it, someone found some of Marc's original sketches and the game was restored.
This story has its share of doubters. I browsed one website were an individual had taken numerous photographs of the cellmates, month after month, year after year. The chess pieces were forever moving as janitorial and other influences disturbed them. If this story was really true, why weren't the pieces glued to the board?
On another site, someone knowledgeable of chess claims that the "correct" placement does not end in a stalemate. They also state that the "correct" placement of the pieces would be impossible to achieve in a true chess match.
I have no idea what is and isn't true here, but it is a wonderful Disney legend none the less.
As with so many Disney attractions, guests exit Pirates of the Caribbean through a shop. Naturally, a wide array of pirate merchandise is available. And with the arrival of the Pirate movie franchise, even more goodies are here to tempt your children.
Next door to this shop is Pirates League. This is the male version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Here, boys and men (and girls and women) can receive a buccaneer makeover. I received a new persona when this spot opened in spring, 2009. To learn more about my experience and this shop, click here.
After exiting the shop, take a look around. Next to Castillo del Morro, the Imagineers have created a seaport town reminiscent of the British and Spanish colonies of the 17th and 18th century West Indies.
Across Plaza del Sol is the only establishment where guests can purchase a full meal in Adventureland. Originally called El Pirata Y el Perico (The Pirate and the Parrot), this spot was recently renamed Tortuga Tavern to tie it into the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Notice how the exterior of this building looks like multiple businesses, with the main entrance resembling a tavern where pirates might have enjoyed a glass of grub and grog.
Tortuga Tavern is a counter service restaurant that sells Americanized Mexican food. A nearby topping bar allows guest to create their own taco salads and embellish other items. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. This restaurant is open seasonally. To see their menu, click here.
Hanging near the food ordering station is a sign announcing the Tortuga Tavern Code of Conduct. After each "official" rule is a handwritten addendum. As I know most of you will never read this sign while visiting Adventureland, I will post the rules here.
Every man has equal title to fresh provisions -- iffin he has the gold
Ye fair ladies shall be treated in a favorable manner -- wenches be not fair ladies
A witness shall be present for gaming at cards or dice -- Short Drop and Sudden Stop for cheatin scallywags
Duels by cutlass or pistol shall be taken outside with witness -- ye witness must have one good eye
Damages unto an establishment shall be paid in gold, doubloons, or pieces of eight -- parrots be not legal tender -- ye be warned
As you might know, the Imagineers like to pay homage to old attractions and facilities when they are replaced by something new. Tortuga Tavern continues this tradition. In the rafters you'll find the old El Pirata Y el Perico keg that once was the marquee for this establishment.
There is an interior walkway that connects the Tortuga Tavern dining room with the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & CafΓ© dining room, however, it is not always open. When it is, it makes searching for a table a little easier on busy days.
Next to Tortuga Tavern is La Fuente de la Fortuna (The Fountain of Fortune). This represents the town's well where families fetched their daily bucket of water and gossiped with their neighbors. Today, the fountain seems to be a little overgrown.
Next to the fountain is the Plaza del Sol Stage. Several times a day, Jack Sparrow and his first mate entertain guests with their antics in a show titled "Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial."
Once the show gets underway, Jack selects four children from the audience where he will teach them the "Jack Sparrow" technique of swordsmanship.
When the swordplay concludes, Jack selects about 20 more children from the audience to come up on stage. They are all given scrolls and then they must swear their allegiance to Jack and the pirate way of life.
During the 20 minute performance, a Disney photographer is on hand to capture the moments. When the show ends, she hands out PhotoPasses to all that wish them.
Although adults will appreciate some of Jack's jokes, this show is more aimed at children. If your child wishes to be picked as one of the four swordsmen, then I suggest arriving a few minutes before the performance. It seems that children standing in the front row have the best chance of being selected. Check your Times Guide for times.
The Imagineers purposely chose Spanish influenced architecture for this section of Adventureland. This helps provide a seamless transition between this part of the park and the Spanish influence American West of adjoining Frontierland.
Technically, this arch represents the end of Adventureland and the beginning of Frontierland, but there is one more Adventureland attraction on the other side.
For years, a shop called "The Crow's Nest" was located in a small, standalone building just beyond the arch. It sold Kodak film and assorted souvenirs.
After Kodak ended its Disney sponsorship, this shop was converted into a new attraction, "A Pirate's Adventure -- Treasures of the Seven Seas."
"A Pirate's Adventure" is similar in concept to "Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom" on Main Street and "Phineas and Ferb" at Epcot, except this game is confined within Adventureland.
Guests enter this building and discover they're in a map room. The walls are covered with maps, charts, and navigation tools. A cast member instructs one person of your party to place their wristband or admission ticket on a starfish design found on one of the maps. This action will select one of five treasure maps for you to follow.
Each map contains four to six treasure locations. Each location is marked by a special emblem. Some of these are a skull & crossbones, a parrot, a snake, palm trees, and a cannon. After reaching your first location, you tap your wristband or ticket on the emblem. This activates some activity or voice, giving you clues to the next location to visit. Some of these clues are vocal instructions, but others feature simple AudioAnimatronics. You might see a parrot talk, skeletons appear from beneath the water, or a treasure chest open wide.
When you have found all of the treasure on your map, you can go back to the starting point for another hunt until you've completed all five adventures. It takes about 15 minutes to complete one treasure search.
Beneath the Adventureland/Frontierland arch, several businesses have set up shop. One of these is Arribas Brothers. These enterprising fellows sell crystal works of art and jewelry. Across the way, another merchant sells hand-crafted rings. Here you can have you name or initials carved into brass, sterling silver, and gold.
This winds up my look at Adventureland. As you can see, there is a lot to offer in this section of the Magic Kingdom. Walt's original idea for a jungle cruise based on his True Life Adventure films sparked quiet an elaborate undertaking. So next time you visit Adventureland, slow down and smell the roses. Try to walk to Pirates of the Caribbean, not run, and notice some of what I've pointed out here.