The Redhead to Have New Role in Pirates of the Caribbean Attractions

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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Disneyland Paris today announced some changes to its version of the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which reopens July 24 following refurbishment. Tucked at the bottom of that Disney Parks Blog article was a cannonball of an additional announcement: changes are also coming to the Pirates attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.


Concept art shows changes planned for the Disneyland Paris version of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Photo © Disney.

Both attractions are closing for scheduled refurbishment in 2018, reopening with a re-imagined auction scene that features the famous redhead in a brand new role. No longer satisfied to be a wench for the taking, the redhead is joining the ranks of the pirate crew, and helping to conduct an "auction" of goods plundered from the local townspeople.

This change is certain to be met with criticism from die-hard fans who hate to see any changes made to the classic attractions, especially those touched by Walt Disney himself. Disney Legend Marty Sklar, who worked closely with Walt Disney during the earliest days of Disneyland, says the changes are in keeping with Walt's vision of the parks:

"To me, the Imagineers are simply reflecting what Walt started the day Disneyland opened—making changes that create exciting new experiences for our guests. I can't think of a single attraction that has not been enhanced and improved, some over and over again. Change is a 'tradition' at Disneyland that today's Imagineers practice—they learned it from their mentors, many of them Walt's original team of storytellers and designers—the Disney Legends.

"Pirates of the Caribbean has always represented great Disney Park storytelling; it has set the standard for the theme park industry for half a century! But it's a story you can continue to add fun to, with great characters in new 'performances.' That's what the Imagineers have done with this new auction scene—it's like a theatre show with a new act."

In fact, Pirates has been updated several times since first debuting at Disneyland in 1967, and each change has had its share of fans and detractors. Most notorious was the change made to the ride in 1997, in which a scene of pirates chasing women through the town was altered by placing trays of food in the women's hands, thus framing the conflict as one of gluttony rather than lust (the Walt Disney World version of the ride, which opened in 1973, had always featured food).


The current version of Pirates of the Caribbean places the redhead in a line of unwilling brides at the pirate auction. Photo © Disney.

The popularity of the theme park ride inspired Walt Disney Pictures to launch a wildly successful film franchise, beginning in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Three years later, Disney brought the story full circle, adding characters from the film franchise to the attraction. Disneyland spokesperson Suzi Brown tells MousePlanet:

"From introducing characters from the film saga, to the technology and story enhancements, changes to our attractions are done in the spirit of moving forward what Walt Disney inspired. We believe the time is right to turn the page to a new story in this scene, consistent with the humorous, adventurous spirit of the attraction."

This brings us to 2018 and the latest change to the iconic ride. Concept art released by Disney shows the banner in the auction scene—which currently reads, "Take a Wench for a Bride"—being replaced with a new banner reading "Surrender Yer Loot." Wealthy townspeople are shown hauling their household treasures to the steps under the watchful eye of the pirates, including a gun-toting redhead.


The famous redhead takes a new role in the updated auction scene in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Photo © Disney.

Kathy Mangum, vice president and executive producer with Walt Disney Imagineering, explains what Imagineers hoped to accomplish with this update.

"Our team thought long and hard about how to best update this scene. Given the redhead has long been a fan favorite, we wanted to keep her as a pivotal part of the story, so we made her a plundering pirate! We think this keeps to the original vision of the attraction as envisioned by Marc Davis, X Atencio and the other Disney legends who first brought this classic to life."

The Disneyland and Walt Disney World attractions will each close in 2018 for this refurbishment, and Disney has not given specific reopening dates.

Comments

  1. By xezat

    Blasphemy. Plain and simple.

  2. By Dave1313

    Even on the DPB comments(obviously moderated by Disney), it seems like of the roughly 75 comments there right now, there were maybe 10-15 in favor vs all others against the change. So somewhere around 20% or less like the idea of the change.

  3. By OrangeB

    I'm in favor of this change! I don't find the scene funny, much more sad and creepy than anything. I think the new scene sounds like a lot more fun and fits better with the more positive image of the pirates that the movies present. I respect that many will not agree, it's hard to change something that's been around for so long, that so many people adore and feel strongly about. But I fully support this move and can't wait to see what they create!

  4. By DwarfPlanet

    I will sorely miss "We want the redhead!"

  5. By Megatron

    I can't believe some of the reactions I'm seeing to this change. I saw one post on a young lady's IG that said, "So, they're selling women. What's the big deal?" Does that really need to be explained to anyone?
    I tell my students all the time that if someone speaks up and tells you that something you're doing or saying is hurtful or bothersome, just stop doing it. Don't make that person feel badly for not liking it. Don't claim, "It's just a joke." Respect them and knock off the offensive behavior. It doesn't diminish your life in any way to respect other people.
    Look, we change behaviors and representations all the time because people finally speak up and say they're offensive. The "N" word is practically gone from most people's vocabularies, rappers and young people of color aside. Why? Because it's one of the most offensive and hurtful terms ever added to the language. On that note, I wonder if the mannequins "for sale" were black, if this wouldn't have been gone long ago.
    A representation of anyone selling other humans really doesn't belong in a theme park. The arguments that start with, "Well, Walt...." or "Well, historically..." don't fly here. Walt Disney existed in a time when many unacceptable things were done. We don't put up with a lot of it anymore. If he was living now, he'd have to change with the times, just like the world around him. Beyond that, the ride isn't a history museum. It's a place where families go to enjoy themselves.
    This is not the first time Disney has made changes to a ride, and it won't be the last. Time moves on. Move with it or stay stuck in the mud. It's really your choice.

  6. By GusMan

    Hear me out here for a moment, because I am going to pose a couple different thoughts...

    When PotC was created, I am pretty sure that the term "human trafficking" was not in anyone's mainstream vocab. It's been a fixture of the attraction for quite some time. And I dont think anyone can debate the idea that there is a good chance that during the time line where PotC falls, that sort of activity was a part of being a pirate. Some might even call it "historical" even in a fictional role.

    BUT...

    Things do change and because of many different reasons. I've seen many people state that it's a good idea to change it for the sake of being a bit more sensitive because human trafficking activities are indeed a part of this world in a much brighter light. Not to mention that there have been some parents that had to sometime explain away (Downplay?) the scene to their kids.

    At the same time, there are some that still have never seen the scene for what was really happening.

    Now, some have called this a PC move. I mean, I know Im mixing history and fiction here, but we have seen many aspects of our (historical) past be pushed aside or removed with reasons related to being more sensitive. However, you can't simply hide away a past that existed. At the same time, you don't have to support such activities to know and acknowledge that they existed.

    But PotC is not history. Its supposed to be a story for the purpose of family entertainment. And sometimes those stories have to change to be entertaining to current guests.

    Personally, this is how I see it... Change will happen. This change will happen. This one change will not make or break the attraction in of itself. There is a very good chance that the new scene will be live up to the popularity of the PotC name and the attraction will be as popular as ever. I know we will talk about this change for a long time... and Im sure I will still have to wait to see it.

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