Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Case of the Missing Pirates

Avast thar' mateys!

  A Happy St.Patrick's Day to all! Just so you all are aware, tomorrow is the 46th anniversary of Disneyland's classic attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean. So for today, we're going to do another post all about Pirates. Actually, this post is going to center around two particular pirates for the most part. You may have heard one of them if you own the Disneyland Forever Pirates CD, and you might have seen both of them if you've ever looked at concept art or pictures of WED's miniature model. But the one place you have never seen these two pirates is in the ride. Which two pirates am I talking about?

  The two buccaneers seen in the Marc Davis concept art above very nearly made it into the ride's burning the town scene. While the quote accompanying the image above from Jason Surrell's Pirates of the Caribbean: From The Magic Kingdom to the Movies says otherwise...
"Walt loved this 1965 Marc Davis concept of drunken pirates in a dinghy overloaded with rum bottles, but the gag never made it off the drawing board."
...there's more than enough evidence to support that his claim is bogus. It did indeed make it off the drawing board, and there's enough evidence to say it even made it past the model stage. Surrell covers so much in his book that I can't really get on him for overlooking these two guys. Get yourself a copy of the book if you don't already own one, because everything until the last section (about the films) is worth reading over and over again. Anyhow, back to the two pirates...

  As seen in the artwork above, the duo of drunken pirates in the boat appear again in Claude Coat's panoramic rendering of the burning town scene. Besides the two missing pirates, (and the tenor in the musical trio playing what appears to be a tuba or trumpet) the rendering is exactly the same as what the scene would look like in the finished attraction. Compare bellow:

  Notice all that space between the boat with the pilfering pirate and the seawall off to the left of the shot above? That's about where the duo of drunks in their boat would have been if they had made it into the show. As I said before, the duo made it off the drawing board. Bellow, photographic evidence shows that they did make it into the 3-dimensional stage of production.

Photo from

  When creating a new attraction, the Imagineers always make a scaled model to work out any issues before moving into the full-sized version. This is a tradition carried on to this very day. Even New Fantasyland got a scaled model...

  Notice the slight difference in placement of the pirates between the black and white shot and the colored shot. In the B&W shot, there is a pirate holding a jug of rum sitting on a treasure chest behind the pirate stealing the loot. Notice that in the colored shot the treasure chests are there, but the pirate is not. Several alteration were made to the models before they decided on what would make it into the finished show. Every shot available (that I myself have located. If you know where to find more, I'd love to see them) of the burning the town scene features these two drunks in the boat, furthering the idea that they were cut late in the into game... very late actually... because one of the two pirates even had an audio track recorded for them.

  On the official Disneyland Forever Pirates of the Caribbean CD, a track called "Drinking Pirate" is offered, but listed as "never used", preformed by legendary voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft. The track consists of the sounds of gulping and hiccuping sounds that play in sync with the instrumental of "Yo-Ho A Pirate's Life for Me." You can hear a sample of the track here. This track would obviously fit at least one of pirates in the boat, or perhaps even the pirate who went missing from the black and white model still. While many have said they believe the track is used at Disneyland Paris for the pirate bellow, I can safely say this is not the case; having been on the French version of the attraction myself. The sleeping pirate bellow has no audio track.

  So, we are left to assume that they were pulled for aesthetic reasons, or perhaps noise pollution? Much like the muting of the Knight's vocals in Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion as of 2007, the idea of too much noise from one area makes sense to some degree. Maybe it was because there was too much happening on the left side of trough, and not enough on the right side. Maybe they got rid of them to even the action out a bit. On the left side, you have the two drunks clinging to one another; the drunk clinging to the lamp post; the pirate with the tower of hats and loot; and even the parrot on the bridge is technically off to the left side of the bridge. Then you have the drunk with the hairy leg in the center. On the right, there's the drunk in the mud with the pigs, and that's it. So many pirates off to the left... an there could have been at least two or three more...

  Before I wrap this post up and bury it in the graveyard of former posts, I'd like to touch on a few more addition that never made it into the final version of the show. Several pieces of concept art reveal scenes that would make the infamous pooped pirate blush. These risque scenes are much more suggestive then the final scene which was altered in the mid 1990's due to a few complaints about the sexual tension lingering around it. I wonder what these would have looked like had they made it off the drawing board into the final version?

  The lower one in particular peeks my interest the most. Although some audio snippets of what could have come from the artwork above it do exist, the concept of Pirates playing tug-of-war with a young maiden... I don't know, it takes the pooped pirate gag and amplifies it's provocativeness tenfold. It's not longer a chase, the pirates have captured their quarry. Surprisingly  this scene made it into the most recent version of the attraction in a less physical, silhouette form. Disneyland Paris's Pirates is the only version to still feature the "original" version of the chase scene. While there are a few differences; such as the dialogue being in French; several new additions were included to this version. The most famous of these additions are the inclusion of a  pirate and a townsman engaging one another in a sword fight, but my favorite addition can be seen in the video bellow:

  So what if it's inappropriate? It's France! You see naked women in adds all over the place in France! A little roughhousing (if you want to look at it in a glass half full style scenario... just whatever you do, don't call it a rape scene... that's all that needs to be said and this gag would be scraped) between two drunken men and a young woman isn't that outlandish, especially when all we can see it the outline.

  Well, that's all I've got to say about that... now off with ya'!


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