Inside ‘The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow’ as Walt Disney World debuts new lifelike Pirates of the Caribbean attraction

in Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Entertainment, Movies, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

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Walt Disney World has opened a new Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, though a decidedly different one than the classic ride at the Magic Kingdom. Located in Soundstage 4 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in the former location of Journey into Narnia, the walkthrough experience is called “The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow” and it stars that infamous pirate himself, recreating a few of his most famous adventures.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow

Considering the original concept for Pirates of the Caribbean was that of a walkthrough attraction, not a ride, it seems fitting that The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow would follow that path, but with a high-tech twist. There are no Audio-Animatronics figures to be found in this new experience. Instead, Disney utilizes impressive modern technology to bring to life undead skeleton pirates, mermaids, and yes, Jack Sparrow, within a mere few feet of guests, enveloping them in a show that’s inspired by the hugely successful film series, but still retaining a few nods to the original ride.

It’s an experience that is best experienced in person, stepping into the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, surrounded by special effects and sounds enveloping each visitor. But for those who can’t make it to Disney’s Hollywood Studios any time soon, the video below does a good job at capturing the experience, using binaural audio to reproduce the exciting soundscape – so be sure to wear headphones while watching.


Video: “The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow” show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios


UPDATE (11/27/12): Disney has released a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of “The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow” including interviews with Imagineers and Johnny Depp performing in front of a green screen:

A group photo also reveals voice actor James Arnold Taylor as part of the crew, who many fans correctly identified as the voice of the new attraction’s disembodied skull:


When Jack Sparrow moved into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride a few years ago, some sweeping changes were made to the classic attraction. One was the removal of the talking skull just before the ride’s big drop, much to many fan’s dismay. Fortunately, that skull has returned, more animated than ever, introducing The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow with those famous words, “Dead men tell no tales,” and subsequently narrating the whole experience.

Following that introduction room, guests move together in a large group into the main show, which lasts around 10 minutes. With waves crashing in the distance in front of a sunset over the open waters, visitors step into a cave lined with seaside skeletons, bottles, and a tattered old pirate ship somewhat resembling the film’s Black Pearl.



The experience soon begins as the disembodied pirate skull appears, floating in the sky, narrating the adventurous moments that unfold, each representing a memorable part of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series.

Through the use of high-tech projection mapping technology, Disney has complete control over every square inch of the show space, completely surrounding guests in vibrant animation and lighting. Wind appears to blow the ship’s sails while the skies change to an ominous grey as undead skeleton pirates creep up, seeking treasure.

The skull in the sky makes this an interactive affair, asking guests to unlock a chest with “great power” and do away with the skeletons by reciting, “Send those bones to Davy Jones.”

But Davy Jones hears the call and emerges in the distance with his Flying Dutchman ship, unleashing the Kraken upon all. But an eager roar from the crowd does the trick for battling this fearsome beast.

A contrast to the gruesome growls of the Kraken, the sultry sounds of mermaids are heard in song, beckoning all to join them. But their sinister side shines through as the cave fills with water and they begin to swarm. A round of feet stomping, prompted by the floating skull, seems to be the response needed to make them swim away.

Finally, to finish of Davy Jones, the skull calls for Jack Sparrow to come up from the ship’s cabin and take the lead. With the famous role once again played by Johnny Depp, Jack appears in a most realistic way, believably standing up on the ship’s bow for the remainder of the show. It’s a clever use of projection similarly featured in other theme park attractions like Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey to bring Harry, Ron, and Hermione to life in stunning realism.

While Jack looks quite real in Audio-Animatronics form in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, this projected version may very well fool some unwitting visitors into thinking Depp is standing there in person.

Of course, witty Jack isn’t always savvy as to what’s happening, emerging in a few different ways, with a variety of scenes playing out for his introduction, encouraging repeat visits. The video above shows off a close encounter with that famous redhead from the ride.

From there forward, Jack and the floating skull share an entertaining rapport, joking along the way of defeating Davy Jones in the distance. It’s a somewhat anti-climactic finish to an otherwise impressive sensory overload that shines a spotlight on some of the most entertaining elements from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Though some may find the narrative style of The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow to be a bit childish, the exciting visuals are presented in a unique high-tech way, unlike any other Disney attraction, making this show a new must-see stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow is currently in a soft opening / preview phase and will officially open at Walt Disney World on December 6.

More photos from The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

27 Comments

  1. Hoser

    So they made a walk through based on a movie inspired by a ride that’s in the neighboring theme park?
    Wow, Disney’s head is so far up its own ass with concerns of name recognition that their laziness with actual park innovation will doom them in the long run.
    This is a pathetic short term merchandizing grab and does nothing to fix the massive problems at their 2nd worst park (California Adventure will stay #1 until they fix the mini-Hollywood Studios ghost town inside of it.)

    1. Chaz

      That was actually really interesting. Nothing compared to the original ride, of course, but it still had its entertainment value.

    2. Falco

      EXCUSE me? DCA is still number 1?? We’ve worked REALLY hard to make DCA actually work. I walk through this park every day of my working life. That 1.3 billion did NOT go down the drain in any way. We can’t fix 100% of our mistakes in one fell swoop.

  2. Orljustin

    If you have nothing better to do, then spend your time here. And I mean nothing. If you like standing in a room with 50 others watching video projected on various surfaces, this is the ‘attraction’ for you. If you like responding to the commands of a video skull host who commands you to stomp your feet and say ‘arrrr’ like you’re watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, you’ll likely enjoy this. If you find a drunken video Jack Sparrow reminding you the show runs every 8 minutes hilarious, stop on by.

    Otherwise, walk on by and don’t waste your park time here.

  3. Dave

    this attraction sounds very interesting and I have a feeling im going to thoughly enjoy it. uit may not be a traditional attraction, but i’m sure i will like this for the same reason i like walking through a haunted house for instance. the negativity i’ve read in other comments sounds contrived and is most likly coming from self important fanboys who think it’s cool to knock whatever disney does. they probably have failed aspirations of becoming an imagineer, lol. go grind your ax somewhere else.

    1. jack

      Well no. This is a very boring “Ride” or “Show” or whatever. It is lame and you just stand there, If you at least were able to walk, or do anything, but this is very lame.
      I rather just see a Real Jack Sparrow sword fighting with kids outside the Pirates ride at Magic Kingdom. At least the actor there is real and you can leave whenever you damn want to

  4. orljustin

    Lol, hardly. Just a warning that you’ll likely come out upset you spent a hour in line, plus the actual time of the show. This is nothing like a haunted house. This is a room with props and walls upon which video is projected. That is all. Nothing moves. If you turned off the projections, absolutely nothing would happen here. The only interaction is with the video skull who commands you to do actions to ‘become a pirate’. They missed opportunities – for example, when the Kraken attacks, I hoped animatronic tentacles would appear, but no luck.

    They pull a child to stand at the back of the room to hold up a magic key at the beginning. For some reason. It wasn’t clear why, and most guests didn’t realize it was happening. Video skull said something like ‘if you’ve got the magic key, say arrrrrr’, and the entire group said it, when only the kid was supposed to yell and hold up the key. No one realized he was standing at the back.

    Like someone said, this is like ‘Dora the pirate explorer’. “Clap your hands everyone to make big bad Davy Jones go away!” This would make a great room for a cocktail party, but fails as an ‘attraction’, IMO. Especially because they try to create an immersive environment, and then drunk video Sparrow calls attention to the fact it is a repeating show.

  5. Jon Frow

    Looks pretty clever, but to be honest I would file this against Posedians Fury, just not really my kind of attraction, would probably go on once then never again. Also very strange placement between One Mans Dream and Midway Mania? I know they have to work with the space they have, but I would not have put this sort of attraction in that space.

  6. Jim

    You must understand that though Disney’s movies are reaching into more adult situations on the screen, at the parks it’s still very PG not PG-13. The Magic is in crowd involvement, so if you wanna just watch the show then go buy the dvd black friday’s around the corner.

  7. Matt

    I have to agree with almost all the mixed comments that people are posting, while I find the Pirates franchise to be well over played, I do think this is a step up from its past predecessor of Narnia.

    I don’t mind walk through attractions, in a sense its like a interactive museum, and I would hope with this attraction it was more “technical special effects” of how the movie was made, then actually continuing with the Pirates story line…but after watching the above clip of the attraction, I was left completely bored halfway through once I realized it was all just clever imagery… why not some water cannons, or pyro…

    I too am comparing this to Poseidon’s Fury, and for the fanboys of Universal, Fury is not a favorite to most..but it’s an award winner compared to this marketing ploy of trying once again to reach a target audience of 18-40 male, that let’s face it, Disney will never reach.

    “Dora the Pirate Explorer” Very Clever.

    1. John Aitken

      Yes I agree this show is a total waste of time – I would recommend you give it a miss.

  8. John

    This attraction NEEDS 2 things….SEATS..I know disney wants their guests to get tired so we sit in their restaurants but at the end of the day this just makes guests unhappy which is the worst thing you can do. PYROTECHNICS what’s the use to going this attraction when its only a projection which can easily be seen on youtube. BOTTOM LINE is that since this attraction isn’t officially open yet being a soft opening they should make some changes. But its still seems to be better than the Narnia attraction.

    1. jack

      Actually what it needs is to be 3D. That would have made it cool enough, adding chairs pyrotechnics and making it 3D could have actually been amazing.
      as it is now is poop

    2. Bonni Chapman

      Very disappointed to find, after waiting in long line, that this is not a ride or a show. When we got inside, the room where were were lined up to stand, seems sort of like the first room in the haunted mansion. When they led us out of there I thought we were going next to the ride/show, but we were led outside and that was it! Don’t waste your time on this one.

  9. Jerry

    The DHS is getting more and more confusing to me. Is it a theme park dedicaded to movies, making of movies, music production or just a bunch of unrelated rides and attractions? It’s an insane mess!
    Now for this piece of “imaginering”, it would be great as a preshow for the Pirates ride in MK. It takes a lot from the line at HP at IOA but now they call it an attraction and is it a bulletpoint at the already short list of things to do at DHS.
    Disney realy needs to fix this park, and this is not the way to go.

    1. jack

      You are so right. I Guess Universal could say that the Potter ride is Actually TWO ATTRACTIONS IN ONE!!! (sarcasm)
      Seriously if this can be considered an attraction then so can the queue line at Potter. That becomes an attraction as well. What about Spiderman? Hulk? they have videos and props, can their queue lines be considered attractions as well?

      Pathetic Disney, really pathetic.
      At least put some chairs in there! I wouldn’t mind doing this if I was sitting down.
      or
      Make it 3D! I mean, If this show was seated and 3D then I could see it being good, really good actually….

  10. David

    I agree with everyone hear, watching the video the MOST disappointing thing for me is where the “Illusion” does not even make sense. Like the giant floating mermaid head on the ship, what the hell, could have had a full mermaid come out of the seas somewhere? Also seeing the seam lines at the top of the screen where the screen ends at the ceiling for the Kraken, giant tentacles that go up then just stop into black really would draw me out of whats going on. Why was is not a dome and fully immersible? Why does noting actually move or interact with the audience, looks like a cheap movie, and I don’t agree that 3d would have saved it.

  11. Tim

    It was my understanding that the Jack Sparrow projection was a hologram and not a 2D projection. It looks good but,man, what a disappointment! We when the last week of November ’12 and the ride wasn’t officially open. We were kinda herded into what looked like exit door and then around a corner to the animatronic pirate skull. Thinking all along that there would be a ride involved. But no, you do what the other posters have said. Walk into the room. Stand there. See the little show and walk out. Everybody moaned as they walked out.
    I think this was more of an experiment in holograms with the actual stars of the movies rather than look alike robots.
    I hate it for them. But this is a miss and a waste of park time.

  12. Thomas Fines

    We took our family to Hollywood Studios after spending a wonderful day at Universal (2 park pass) where we had a blast. The kids were not able to do everything in one day, so I would recommend 2 days at Universal.

    As far as Disney Hollywood studios? Big fat dissappointment. Huge long lines, they were unprepared to handle the number of guests at a park where there are only 3-5 real substantial rides. The first ride (if you want to call it that), was Ride the Movies. Wierd…sadly in need up updating the video they play at the beginning that references movies through history…but only up until about the 1990’s….how hard would it be to add in a few later movies, Disney? Are short staffed?

    And the Jack Sparrow experience. Let me share our reaction… When we came out of that after standing in line for 45 min to an hour, everyone in the group looked at each other and burst in to laughter. The overriding sentiment, “What the hell was that?!?” What a joke. Fire this team of people in the picture above that created such a lame joke of an experience, Disney! So much less than we have come to expect from you.

    And if you are visiting Orlando, avoid this attraction and go on the Star Wars ride another time. Or just go get a corn dog, it will be a better use of your time.

    Better yet, just avoid Hollywood studios alltogether and go to Universal a second day. You will love it!!! New and changing rides, modernized, and they are better set up to handle the crowds.

  13. Thomas Fines

    By the way, if you want to see an example of the way to do this type of thing in a quality way, go to Universal and visit the Disaster! experience. It has the “Wow” factor and they use a real actor in the show interacting the an image of Christopher Walken. This is just an incredible show and puts this Disney farce to shame….

    By the way, if you go to the Jack Sparrow walk-through, (whatever it is), pay attention to the writing. Kind of funny to see they just rehashed a bunch of parts of the old movies…they couldn’t even get some origninal jokes or meaningful scripting for this thing. Unless you want to count the yelling and stampint…

  14. Tim

    Was recommended to see this by a park employee.

    I’ve been to Disney quite a few times, and I can say, without hesitation, that this is the worst thing I have ever experienced there. Just awful in every facet. Do yourself a favor and skip this. Don’t even do it for “the sake of doing it”

    1. the zimbee

      Worse than Under New Management was or Stitch’s Great Escape is? I don’t know, I think I’d rather stand in a room and watch things on the wall before subjecting myself to Gilbert Gottfried.

  15. Bonni Chapman

    I am a huge WDW fan, but don’t waste time on this Jack Sparrow thing.

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  17. Lucia

    Hi! Does anyone know the name of the girl who plays as a mermaid and sings? I found her voice truly beautiful and I would really really love to hear her again!

  18. MM

    My 8 year old sons first words when we exited, “that was lame.” We were on the far left side and my view of the back screen was partially blocked by the bow of the ship. Since everyone was standing, and is close together, it’s not great viewing for short people (ie kids)unless they are in the very front. This “attraction” would make a nice sideshow for a que to another ride, but fails miserably on its own.

    1. Steve

      If you have a fastpass set up and you dont see people waiting for this – its at least cool inside. It certainly isnt going to make anyone want to go home and watch Pirates of the Carribean. Ur better off going to see Muppets 3D.

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