Disney is making one small change to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and the internet is completely losing it
Though the attraction has stayed relatively the same since it first came ashore at Disneyland in 1967, the Pirates of the Caribbean Disney ride we know and love is changing. Over the years, the ride (across all parks, including Disneyland and Disney World) has seen a few minor updates and tweaks here and there, and it is soon going to see another one. At first glance, it’s not a huge change to the beloved attraction, but dig a little bit deeper into it, and it’s actually a MAJOR adjustment — and one that the internet is very divided about for a whole slew of reasons.
While the pirates inside will still pillage and plunder, they’re no longer going to auction off brides. That show scene in the attraction will be removed when Pirates of the Caribbean goes down for a refurbishment next year; it will be replaced with a scene of townspeople surrendering their belongings.
As the Disney Parks Blog revealed on Thursday, The Redhead — of the “We wants the Redhead” fame — will no longer be a bride up for auction, but instead a pirate herself. This change is happening first at Disneyland Paris and then stateside in 2018. It’s about time there was a prominent Lady Pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean! There’s actually not a single female pirate in Pirates! Nothing to get worked up over…right?
Oh, so very, very wrong.
There are a few sides to this outcry, so settle in. The scene in Pirates where the pirates auction off women as brides is very problematic for the year 2017. However, Pirates of the Caribbean is supposed to take place during the age of piracy, roughly the 1600s-1700s. Back then, auctioning off women was a thing (and an awful thing at that), but technically, Pirates of the Caribbean is historically correct in depicting this — even though today, it’s a giant head scratcher. The thought is that by changing the ride to erase this, a (very awful) part of history is being forgotten.
(This is also not the first time Disney has updated Pirates due to the ride’s poor depiction of women, but that is a story for another day.)
Once again, Disney is clearly looking to not include scenes of misogyny in a family-friendly ride. The company has made the call to update this auction scene, and in doing so, hell yes, give the Redhead some power and make her a Lady Pirate. The idea of Redhead Lady Pirate has been met with excitement.
So, how could there be any backlash to this? Well, blame Walt Disney for that. Pirates of the Caribbean was the last attraction Mr. Disney oversaw before his death, which means that altering it — even in the slightest way! — tampers with things he did himself. Some people who are upset about the update are simply upset about the fact that Disney history, literal Disney history touched by Walt, is about to drastically change.
Knowing that backlash was imminent, a retired Imagineer Marty Sklar — who worked on Pirates in 1967 — released a short statement trying to calm everyone down:
“The Imagineers are simply reflecting what Walt started the day Disneyland opened – making changes that create exciting new experiences for our guests," he explained. "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. 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.
On one hand, yes, it’s a shame that the classic attraction is being changed to alter Walt Disney’s vision, and in the process tweak history. On the other hand, the Disney parks were always envisioned to be constantly evolving, and this is just another one of those instances. And yes, here we are, crazy things are happening in the world, but everyone is making time to argue about an audio animatronic-pirate.