Today is the 53rd Anniversary of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean! In honor of the anniversary, let's go back to 1997 and take a look at some newspaper articles, about Disney's first major altering of the attraction.
This first article is from January 1997 and talks about the changes that were being made, 23 years ago:
This next article was also written during the refurbishment:
And this one was written in March of 1997, after the attraction had reopened:
Here's a link to a short news story about the 1997 reopening of Pirates of the Caribbean and the response from guests.
If you look closely in that video, you will see three pirate figures and at least three animal figures, which were all being added to the attraction at that time (and were all removed when the attraction underwent another rehab in 2006, for the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow). Those new figures which were added in 1997, all came from an EPCOT attraction that had recently closed. I had previously done two separate posts about the "new" pirate figures, so rather than include photos of them here, I will just provide the links to my earlier posts:
In June of 2018, even more "politically correct" changes were made to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. It seems that the "auction scene," which had been a part of the original ride for 50 years, was suddenly found to be offensive.
A local newspaper article by Mark Eades, dated July 2, 2017, talked about the changes that would be made to that scene, which included making the "Redheaded Wench" into a "Plundering Pirate." A senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering is quoted as saying, "We think this keeps to the original vision of the attraction as envisioned by X Atencio, Marc Davis and the other Disney legends who brought this classic to life." Personally, I beg to differ! I just wish the two legends who were mentioned, were still around today so that we could ask them for their opinions. Actually, X Atencio had already been quoted, calling the 1997 revisions to the attraction, "The Boy Scouts of the Caribbean." Maybe we should ask Rolly Crump, Bob Gurr and Alice Davis, for their opinions!
This was the official Disney concept art, showing how the scene would be reworked:
And here is the finished product:
Below, is another local newspaper article dated, October 1, 2017. The author of this article was predicting that Disney wasn't going to do very much to the auction scene, other than give the Redheaded Wench some new pirate garb and hang a new banner behind her. It would have been nice if that was ALL that they did to the scene, but unfortunately they changed far more than that, including giving dialogue to the new "Redheaded Pirate."
I would like to know who wrote the new script for this scene! It doesn't even make sense. She now interacts with the Pirate Auctioneer, who is trying to sell chickens (WHY?) to the group of pirates seated across the way. He asks them, "Do I hear ten? A ten for a hen!" The Redheaded Pirate then interrupts him and while holding up a bottle, tells him that the men aren't interested in the chickens, but rather, "It's the rum they want!" The men start chanting, "We wants the rum! We wants the rum!" Excuse me, but aren't these guys pirates? Aren't they looting the town? If they wanted rum (or even a chicken), wouldn't they just go steal it for themselves? The entire dialogue seems so inane.
Again, I think it would have been better if they had only made the minimal changes, which the author was predicting. Actually, it would have been better if they had just left the auction scene as it had been, for the past 50 years! I am all for political correctness, but I think their attempt at updating this scene was a huge FAIL.
And not that I want to give Disney ideas for ruining the attraction any further, but if they are truly attempting to be politically correct, isn't it hypocritical to make that one change, but then leave all of the pirates who appear to be drunk and holding bottles of booze....AND ALSO HOLDING GUNS? Maybe they should just make all of the pirates hold hands and sing Kumbaya? After all, aren't the lyrics of the attraction's theme song, A Pirates Life For Me, really just encouraging people to "drink, pillage, loot, extort, kidnap, embezzle, hijack, and burn up the city"?
The author of the article goes on to say, that she feels changing the one female to a pirate isn't enough. She thinks, "If Disney really cared about embracing diversity and creating better representation of women and minority groups, there is a lot more they should be doing." When it comes to Disney's live action and animated films, she would like to see them focus on creating new stories about "people of color, women, LGBT individuals, and other underrepresented groups." I totally agree with her, but when Disney tried to do that with the Star Wars franchise (The Last Jedi), didn't many of the "fanboys" scream and cry?
I better end my rant here!
Happy 53rd anniversary, to the "ORIGINAL" Pirates of the Caribbean!
I forgot to include the following information in my post:
So far, the "auction scene" has been updated in three of the Disney parks, worldwide. Both Anaheim's and Orlando's versions have the plus-size "Winsome Wench," also known as "Tiny," holding a chicken in one hand and a basket of eggs in the other. (Again, why on earth would the pirates be bidding on eggs???) At least in the Disneyland Paris version (seen below), she is holding jewelry, which makes just a little bit more sense, in my opinion. I wonder why Paris received a different version than Anaheim and Orlando? As of right now, Tokyo Disneyland still retains it's original auction scene.
And no, you are not seeing things! The pirate auctioneer has lost his head, here. Coincidentally, this happened on the exact same day that the animatronic "Ursula" lost her head, in the "Little Mermaid" ride in Anaheim.