Since this week marks the 50th anniversary of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, we thought we would pose the question of “which is better,” to see if there is an answer. A favorite attraction among many Disney park guests (us included), Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean has been taking people to an underground world since March 18, 1967, opening just a few months after Walt’s passing. (It is rumored that Walt’s favorite ride was whichever one he was currently working on – so this could be said to be his last favorite). With the addition of Walt Disney World, another version of this attraction opened in late 1973 in the Magic Kingdom.
There are fans of each park that insist that their favorite is the best. So with that, we will try to compare the POTC attractions and see if there really is a better version.
Entry into the attraction: At Disneyland, most of the queue is outside giving guests the opportunity to view the New Orleans Square facades and décor. Walt Disney World’s is mostly inside with décor that coincides with the Pirates theme as you walk through stone walled chambers. Each location has its unique invitation to the attraction. The Magic Kingdom has fast passes where Disneyland does not. For this part: Slight advantage – Walt Disney World.
Once seated in the boat in Disneyland, guests are taken through a bayou with its mangroves, fireflies, and a Cajun man sitting in a rocker on a patio (not to mention alongside a very popular restaurant), then to the entrance of a tunnel where a skull and crossbones warns you of squalls and pirates ahead. Your boat enters the dark tunnel and you are immediately plunged 52 feet down a slope where you get a short reprieve to catch your breath and then down another 37 foot slope to take you to the first scene, a beach landing where pirates have met their fate, then under a fog curtain where more pirates warn of impending doom.
In the Magic Kingdom, just after the boat launches, guests are immediately taken to the beginning of the story, the same fog curtain as Disneyland and then to the beach where pirate skeletons guard their treasure. There is a single drop on this version which occurs around this point in the ride and is only about 14 feet. For this opening scene: Advantage – Disneyland.
The next several scenes are nearly identical with a couple of exceptions. The Treasure Room in Disneyland is absent at the Magic Kingdom, as well as the scene at the end of the ride where pirates are firing their pistols around barrels of gunpowder and explosives. Advantage – Disneyland
The last part of this attraction involves the exit. At Disneyland, your boat will climb a waterfall back to Lafitte’s Landing where you boarded. In the Magic Kingdom, you will exit the boat and stand on a speed ramp back up to the surface. Advantage – Disneyland.
One last comparison. The Disneyland version lasts just over 15 minutes, the Magic Kingdom ride last about 8 1/2 minutes. On hot days, this attraction is a great way to get out of the sun and cool off. Advantage – Disneyland.
Final tally, Walt Disney World/Magic Kingdom – 1, Disneyland – 4.
In our opinion, the Disneyland version wins this comparison, hands down. But this was only a comparison of these two locations. We have never been to any of the international parks so we don’t know how they actually measure up, but we have seen the new Shanghai Disneyland version on YouTube and it looks amazing. Hopefully we will visit it someday; and maybe Disney can do some updating to the attractions in California and Florida.