As the public waits in anticipation for the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl to open on Wednesday, July 9, the folks at Disney are scrambling like mad to get ready for the big gala world premiere in Disneyland.
The theory must have sounded romantic and exciting on paper: Use the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in New Orleans Square as the backdrop for the world premiere. Since the Rivers of America already serves to provide a theater layout for the Fantasmic show, turn the area into a big grandstand. Cut no corners, make it as extravagant and as elaborate as possible.
We wonder if the management considered all of the regular guests during all the construction for the premiere. Scaffolding, detour signs, congestion, roped-off areas, blocked views... in two words: bad show.
We are hearing some comments from MousePlanet readers about the conditions of the park this week. One person told us that the manner in which the west side of Disneyland has been overrun with bleachers and screens for the movie premiere is absolutely appalling. Geez, the reader said. Let's just trash the park for the premiere of a movie based on a ride in the park! And who cares if you can barely get to Pirates [of the Caribbean] because of this mess?
So will all this hullaballoo help create big buzz for the movie? We're not sure Disney needs to cater to the premiere attendants so much; we have a very special sneak peek movie review from Moxie, who is involved in the entertainment industry. Moxie saw a not-quite-finished-cut version of the movie this past Saturday, and word is that this movie has hit written all over it.
Pirates attraction fans should not be disappointed. The movie pays homage to the attraction in numerous places, as Moxie reports. Be warned, there are some spoilers in the review below, read at your own risk (though the photos and captions are safe).
Just saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Saturday night, and it's really quite good. I wasn't expecting much, I'll admit, but I was very pleasantly surprised. There are lots of laughs (as one would expect from the writers of Shrek), fantastic special effects and plenty of adventure.
Detour sign: At the entrance to Frontierland, a sign tells visitors that all access to New Orleans Square and Critter Country is through Adventureland, to the left. MousePlanet photo.
Welcome to the new outdoor Frontierland Movie Theater: The bleachers and the screen on Tom Sawyer Island become visible from the front of the Golden Horseshoe Saloon. There is access for the Stage Door Cafe, Riverbelle Terrace, and Pirates of the Carribean. MousePlanet photo.
The first time you see actor Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, he's proudly perched atop the crow's nest of what you assume is a grand ship. But a full shot reveals that it's actually a ratty little boat, which is slowly sinking as it pulls into the harbor. Depp literally steps directly from the mast to the dock without missing a beat just as the boat disappears beneath the water. This pretty much sets the tone for his character for the rest of the film.
A renovated Fantasmic? Think again: The giant screen rises on Tom Sawyer Island. MousePlanet photo.
Normally an open promenade, the area now looks like the sidelines of a football field. The wall bleachers along the edges of the Rivers of America would be a great place to sit for Fantasmic. MousePlanet photo.
This is especially a great movie for Disneyland fans, with just enough references to the ride but not too many to take away from the story.
As far as nods to the ride, part of the theme song is sung by characters at three separate points: the very beginning, in the middle, and at the end. The jail scene is faithfully re-created, complete with whistles and dialogue taken right from the ride. Johnny Depp's character even comments from a neighboring cell, That dog is never going to move, which made me laugh, because that's what I always say.
There are probably even more references that I missed, but I'm sure I'll catch them the second time around, as I'm definitely planning to see it again when it comes out.
Crowd control: Signs and cast members direct visitors to stay to the right as they enter Adventureland. MousePlanet photo.
The already-crowded walkways are even more congested on the route towards Tarzan's Treehouse. MousePlanet photo.
Younger children might be a little scared by the skeletons, but otherwise I can't really see the reasoning for the PG-13 rating. And they'll love the sight gags, the best of which is Depp's character's entrance (described above).
Other scenes re-created from the ride are the sand crab next to the skeleton stabbed with a sword in its back, and the pirate sleeping with the pigs. I think Geoffrey Rush has some dialogue taken from the pirate captain on the ship as well.
The design of the village and the pirate town is very reminiscent of the ride, though not a complete replica.
At Tarzan's Treehouse at the end of the Adventureland bottleneck, visitors are directed to the left, up and over the Pirates bridge, to enter New Orleans Square. MousePlanet photo.
The open-air cafe of Riverbelle Terrace is normally a nice place to enjoy lunch with a view. The bleachers erected along Rivers of America, however, provide an exceptional view from Riverbelle Terrace of steel piping. MousePlanet photo.
There's even a hidden Mickey in the movie! Personally, I would have missed it if my friend hadn't nudged me and pointed it out. We didn't see a finished print, so I don't know if they'll keep it, but it was cool to see it.
If you wish to know where the hidden Mickey is, scroll to the bottom of this page or click here.
The Royal Street Verandah is closed, so its seating area can be used as an alternate entrance into the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. MousePlanet photo.
The view from the corner near Cafe Orleans. The Rivers of America are directly ahead, Pirates of the Caribbean is to the right. MousePlanet photo.
I actually got the chance to interview the cast and the writers on Sunday, including Johnny (who still had the gold teeth in), Orlando and Kiera (but not Geoffrey Rush).
They all seemed genuinely excited about the movie as well as the Disneyland screening on Saturday night. Orlando has never actually been on the ride and is looking forward to going for the first time on Saturday at the premiere.
One of the writers (Stuart Barrie, who is credited with the screen story) told me that he had originally had the wench-chasing scene in the script, but the Disney execs thought it was too un-PC and made him take it out (much like what happened with the ride).
The path along the Rivers of America affords a delightful view of the backside of the risers. MousePlanet photo.
Tom Sawyer Island and the giant screen are visible through a gap between the risers. MousePlanet photo.
In the first night scene, as the clouds part away from the full moon, they briefly form a Mickey head before floating away.
(Send an email to Lani Teshima)
A Hawaii ex-patriate, Lani is a technical writer for a San Francisco Bay Area software company. When Lani is not managing the copy editing tasks here, you can usually find her at the gym, slogging away those slow miles on the treadmill as she trains for the WDW Marathon (held in January). She also maintains her internationally recognized Travelite FAQ. In the occasional spare moment, Lani and her husband, Alex attend baseball games, and drive down to Disneyland in their 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid (which gets 50mpg).