Beginning this week, visitors to the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World may notice a significant change in the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as one of its most memorable and controversial scenes gets an update.
Even if you've never visited a Disney park, you're likely aware of the Pirates ride thanks in part to the massively successful film series (with five installments and counting) starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley. Guests climb into a small boat and ride through a cavernous attraction depicting a small Caribbean town overrun by singing, often drunken animatronic pirates engaged in various dastardly deeds. The ride is filled with classic Hollywood depictions of pirates, from eyepatches to parrots to lots of rum, but despite the lighthearted tone one scene was particularly controversial.
The scene in question depicts an auction in progress, being held by the pirates themselves. Previously, the auction was for women from the town, who were being sold off as brides to the invading pirates. When Disney World closed the attraction to refurbish it last year, it was decided that the scene would be replaced with something that didn't carry such sexist implications. Here's how the official Disney Parks blog describes the change, in keeping with Walt Disney's wishes for his attractions to "keep moving forward" with society.
"The pirate auctioneer now oversees a sale of the townspeople’s most prized possessions and goods. In this scene, the familiar redhead figure has switched sides to become a pirate named Redd, who’s just pillaged the town’s rum supply and has something to say about it."
So, instead of selling off human beings to the highest bidder, the pirates are now offering up things like stolen paintings and grandfather clocks. There's no doubt that various historical pirates would have been fine with the idea of owning another person, even a wife, but given that Pirates is a family attraction, Disney opted for a change. Here's what the scene looks like now:
The Pirates attraction at Disneyland Paris has already undergone a change to its own auction scene, and the Disney Parks blog noted that the original Disneyland version of the ride is also set for refurbishment work beginning next month.