Theme Park Insider

Pirates of the Caribbean

Theme Park Insider Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Boat Ride

Photo of Pirates of the Caribbean

See all photos | Submit Photo

Walt Disney World's Pirates of the Caribbean opened in 1973, two years after the rest of the Magic Kingdom. Originally, Disney Imagineers had planned to build an elaborate "Western River Expedition" dark ride in the Magic Kingdom, figuring that Floridians would have no interest in a Caribbean-themed boat ride, since the Caribbean is practically next door.

They were wrong. Disney World visitors demanded their own version of Pirates of the Caribbean, and Disney obliged. Walk through the Spanish fortress and step into a bateau for your ride into a mysterious cavern. Be sure to "keep your ruddy hands in board," though, for "there be rough seas ahead," ones that will drop you into a musical pirate adventure.

The Magic Kingdom's 10-minute Pirates ride omits several scenes from the Disneyland original but retains its most famous moments, including the attack on the Spanish Fort, the auction, the chase scene, and the burning city. Not to mention X Atencio's and George Bruns' famous theme song, "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me." In 2006, Disney added Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean films to the ride. Keep your eyes peeled — he appears in several scenes throughout the ride.

If you're curious, the plans for Western River Expedition made their way into two other Disney attractions. Some of the scenes from that indoor boat ride were incorporated into the Phantom Manor ride at Disneyland Paris. And the roller coaster planned for atop the Western River Expedition "mesa" building evolved into Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which you'll find just around the corner in the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland.


I'm just going to say it. Disneyland's version is 10x better, it literally blows this one out of the water. If you've never been to Disneyland, you will be absolutely blown away by this dark ride. It's one of the best constructed immersive theme park rides ever made. If you have been to Disneyland, I'm sorry but this ride will be soooooooo disappointing and quite pathetic. I just see this as the cheaper, shorter, more lame version of the ride. I always leave the ride thinking, "That was it?" It goes by saying that Disneyland's version is one of the best theme park rides ever constructed while this version is just a good classic ride in the park. There are so many amazing scenes missing in this version and it has one pathetic, lame drop. It's ashamed considering I have so much nostalgia for MK's version until I realized how short it is compared to it's counterpart. Besides that though, this ride still has a ton of pros. The atmosphere, characters, AA's, music, and smells are iconic, amazing and classic in every way and I love it so much. As I said, I have so much nostalgia and memories with this ride as I remember riding when I was just a little kid singing along and getting a little nervous on the drop. I even remember riding this with my first grade teacher and her husband! That's how long ago I've been on it, and I still love it now with it's magical Disney charm. One thing that Magic Kingdom does better in this version for sure, is the phenomenal queue. It's a huge, beautiful, winding, long, queue through the Castillo del Morro fortress that gets high marks for the way it removes you from the daytime world of the theme park and in the Pirate world. Almost from the beginning, you lose yourself in the fort, as the queue here deviates from the less-conventional back-and-forth of standard queues. You pass by cannons, stockpiles of ammunition, jails, and that iconic “stalemate” scene, all the while not knowing what might be around the next corner. This approach is equal parts disorienting and intriguing, and the net (albeit unstated) result is that it gives rise to a fairly easy suspension of disbelief. At the end of fortress queue, you’re boarding a boat to head into a moonlit bay where pirate ships lurk in the distance? It sounds so far-fetched in writing, but you totally buy into the conceit while experiencing it in person and it is beautiful in every way and truly remarkable, and that‘s why the Pirates of the Caribbean’s queue in MK is so effective. Again, it's still Pirates and you can't wrong with it as is still is heavily detailed, a unique setting and amazing scenes that just feel so real. This is a must do ride even if it does pale in the large shadow of DL's. It's still a Disney classic that you should enjoy. 8/10
It's not fair to nitpick on a ride a wonderful as this one, but compared to the other three classic versions of POTC, this one just falls a bit short. It's wonderful, but it's a shame corners were cut to save money during construction. Still - "it's a pirate's life for me"!
If you have never been to DL, this ride will blow you away. It is one of the best constructed dark ride experiences in the world. However, it pales in the large shadow of DL's Pirates. It's just a bit of a pathetic brother really. Even a pathetic Pirates is a 8/10.
One of the best dark rides in the park. Great theming, and AA's. A classic ride that could never be replaced. I ride it every time I go.
Nice ride.
It's not good compared to the DLR version. I rose this after riding the one in DLR, and it was disappointing. With no Blue Bayou, New Orleans theming, one semi-drop instead of two, and it's 7 minutes shorter.
Won't be riding it anymore after experiencing the Disneyland version!
PERFECT: After the refurb, I'd say this got even better. There's still a problem with the back rows getting strangely wet every now and then, but that's but a small complaint for such an extremely immersive ride that's fun. This was the first attraction that ever made my jaw drop (the first time seeing the battle scene was unbelievable). It's a close race with Haunted Mansion for my vote as best ride in the resort.
This ride is disappointing, especially compared to Disneyland's AMAZING version. I skip it when I go.
Compared to its California counterpart, this ride is pretty lame. Its drop isn't that good, and it only has one drop. Also, it cut out a lot of scenes that the Anaheim versions has. However, I do like the order of the scenes better than the order of the scenes at Disneyland. Also, its queue is very strong, but way too long. Even though there was no one in line, it took me a couple minutes to get through everything. 6/10
I rode this ride for the first time not too long ago, and I thought it was really fun! I've never actually seen any of the movies, but the way the attraction's set up, it's not too hard to catch on. The AA's are great, the music is fun, the setting is unique, I love the queue, really just a great Disney ride. Each time I visit Disney I always try to ride Pirates of the Caribbean because of how enjoyable it is.
Overall - 8.5/10
It's not my favorite thing in the Magic Kingdom, but I wouldn't call it bad. It's just not my thing. I have to admit that the general atmosphere built up by the queue and the music (and the smells!) are top notch, and the animatronics are fun, especially the Jack one, which you will swear is a real person the first time you see it. However, I've never been a big fan of the pirate thing, so I kinda don't care for it in that regard. Still a classic, though, and I'd hate for it to go. Gotta ride it at least once.

Register and log in to leave a comment, too!

Facebook YouTube Twitter Instagram Email Newsletter

Rate & Review

Walt Disney World

Universal Orlando


Tokyo Disney Resort

Plan Your Vacation

Top Posts

Theme Park Insider Books


© Theme Park Insider®   About · Rules · Privacy · Contact
Facebook YouTube Twitter Instagram Theme Park Insider T-shirts and Hoodies Email Newsletter