Here’s a post from the blog of C Martin Croker (TV’s Zorak from “Space Ghost” and “The Brak Show”) from a little over a month ago, about the changes recently made to Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
I haven’t seen Disneyland’s new version yet, but I have ridden Walt Disney World’s, and I agree with him on just about every single point he makes. It’s kind of frustrating, because to me it seems like the whole thing is the best of a bad situation.
Technically, they did a great job. The new animatronics are very well done, the best I’ve ever seen of trying to emulate a real person. They’re integrated well into the scenes without overpowering them. (In the Florida version, the end scene is completely replaced, but that was always an anti-climactic and weak scene).
And I’d even say that as a concept, it made sense — the movies have been huge successes, and the first was genuinely an “instant classic.” (I didn’t like the second one as much, but it could still work if the third one delivers the pay-off).
But it just doesn’t fit all that well. As the blog says, you’re left wondering “who’s that guy wandering around the Pirates ride?” But if they’d tried to do a Marc Davis-style characterization of Capt. Jack Sparrow, I can guarantee you it would’ve just come across as a failed animatronic of Johnny Depp. So you’re stuck with never touching the ride except for refurbishments, or trying something new and getting criticized for not being “true to the original vision” or only being out for cheap marketing tie-ins. It’s not a position I’d want to be in.
Like I said, I haven’t been on Disneyland’s version yet. According to Croker’s blog, the bits voiced by Paul Frees got the boot, which worries me. That was my favorite aspect of the ride.
P.S. I just saw in that Wikipedia entry that Paul Frees was the voice of K.A.R.R. in Knight Rider. Which is so unbelievably awesome.