ORLANDO, Fla. – Disney is no stranger when it comes to hiding bits of magic throughout its theme parks.
Disney Imagineers meticulously design each attraction and area to have the most detail humanly possible in order to immerse each guest into the story.
One attraction that exceeds attention to detail is Pirates of the Caribbean. The fan-favorite ride brings out nostalgia and shows Disney Imagineering at its finest. Throughout the experience, guests find themselves surrounded by cannon fire, buried treasure, plundering pirates and more.
If you were paying close attention on your last voyage, you probably noticed the small details that Imagineers placed throughout the ride. However, you were most likely too busy looking for Jack Sparrow (sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow) so we’ll cover what you might have missed.
With that, we have our heading.
There are two lines that will get you on-board a boat destined for pirate territory. A FastPass+ line and a standby line.
Each takes you through a different corridor inside the castle. While the standby line takes you to the soldiers’ cabins, the FastPass+ queue takes you through the dungeon. It is here where you can find some hidden Disney magic.
If you look below into a dungeon only lit by small lantern, you’ll see two skeletons are busy at a game of chess -- a game that has likely gone on for centuries. Disney Imagineers studied previous chess tournaments for no-win outcomes. The chess pieces were placed in a way that would leave the pirates playing the game for the rest of eternity.
Once you begin your water journey, you’ll come up to one of our favorite bits of visual hidden magic in Walt Disney World. As you pass the caverns of stalagmites and waterfalls, you’ll notice a rock formation ahead of you on the left-hand side, just before the skeletons on the beach.
These rocks are strategically placed to create an illusion when you look at it head-on. As you approach the structure, a giant skull stares you down, signaling a warning of events ahead. However, as your boat continues, the formation will appear as a group of four separate, seemingly harmless rocks. This effect adds to the overall success of the attraction in transporting its riders deep into the uncharted, pirate caves. Keep a watchful eye on the horizon the next time you set sail.
One detail you definitely can’t miss is the sudden drop toward the beginning of the ride before the caves open up to the big battle scene. The plunge fits the theme as it brings riders an exciting rush to the living pirate world. The drop, however, is also necessary as far as the ride’s construction is concerned. The building had to be constructed around the Magic Kingdom Railroad track that encompasses the park. Therefore, the ride path falls under the railroad tracks to make room for both rides.
Warning, the dive is sure to splash!
After you plummet down the waterfall and find yourself surrounded by cannon fire, you’ll notice the orange glow as giant spouts of water shoot up as cannonballs plunge into the water. Do you know why this is?
Imagineers did their studying and took into consideration the temperature of the iron ball after it was fired from a cannon. The water glows orange because the cannonballs are still hot when they plop into the water.
A Wily Trick
We have one more that most vacationers may easily overlook.
Photo: Tom Metevia
After you leave the ride, take a stroll over to Tortuga Tavern. This popular eatery is now owned by A. Smith, or, as she’s better known, Angelica, the daughter of infamous pirate Black Beard.
If you walk to the back of the tavern, you’ll see a book resting on a window ledge.
Inside the book, you’ll see the crew roster for the Black Pearl. If you look closely in the area reserved for the captain, you’ll see a certain beloved pirate has crossed out “Hector Barbossa” and scribbled his name in its place. Tricky, right?
Next time you find yourself swashbuckling with pirates, keep your good eye peeled for these extra details.