I ran into a new area outside of Pirates of the Caribbean on my most recent trip (it’s been here for a while, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it). It’s to the right of the Pirate’s League before you cross through to Adventureland. I’ve always loved the area because it’s had a really interesting history of changes over the years.
It looks like a an area in which the pirates have left some possible booty. This section of the park wasn’t always a location for for casual exploration and set dressing. Let’s take a jump back in time.
A (Very) Short History of the Area
We all know that Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t open until December 1973. When I checked Mike Lee’s Widen Your World (simply the best history on Walt Disney World), he mentions that the shops surrounding Pirates didn’t open until early- and mid-1974. The Caribbean Arcade existed in this spot from 1974 until 1980 when it was replaced by Lafitte’s Portrait Deck
According to the 1984 Birnbaum’s Guide: Laffite’s Portrait Deck Hidden away near the Plaza del Sol Caribe, this is the Adventureland counterpart of the photography studio in Main Street’s Camera Center. Here, though, instead of posing in the genteelest of Gay Nineties garb, you dress up as swashbucklers and pirate maids amid what look to be pieces of eight and chests brimful of pearls and precious jewels.
Some more info from Widen Your World about the succession of changes:
The Caribbean Arcade’s name changed to Caverna de los Piratas in 1979. The following year it closed, underwent a renovation and opened as Lafitte’s Portrait Deck. Under this name, the venue allowed guests to don pirate outfits and pose alongside one of two sculpted pirate figures (adapted directly from Auction Scene figure in the nearby ride) for a photograph. One was the Auctioneer standing at a ship’s wheel, the other was the pirate who holds the redhead’s rope sitting atop a pile of treasure. In the late 1980′s the operation was licensed to the PhotoToons company, and the pirates were removed. From that point on guests in pirate garb mugged by themselves and Disney characters were added to the photographs when printed.
In late 1994, Laffite’s Portrait Deck closed and made way for Lafitte’s which sold fairly generic pirate merchandise. Apparently, Lafitte’s only lasted until March of 1997 when it would be turned into a stockroom and possible break room.
Foxxfur at Passport2Dreams looked at this area in detail back in 2007. She was able to dig up and locate more information, including some great photos from 1995.
The windows weren’t service or cash register-related. Apparently, they were just for atmosphere and to probably alert guests that there was a shop inside. The windows would have been used primarily for merchandising. The pathway on the right leads to the bathrooms.
This is an extremely rare view of the inside of Lafitte’s from 1995. After the store closed in 1997 the windows were boarded up (sort of) from the inside as it would be used for stock and as a break area.
Let’s jump ahead to 2007 where we have a close-up of the window and the details in the window casing. It’s interesting to see how the color scheme pretty much stayed the same for almost 20 years
Back to the Future!
When I ran into the area in early December 2013, I spent some time looking for some great hidden details, or as we call them on Communicore Weekly—Five Legged Goats! The entire area is very well themed and cries out for exploration. To be honest, I’m not sure if I like the overlay compared to just the two windows. This does add a lot to the small area and it’s one of the locations for the Pirate’s Adventure – Treasure of the Seven Seas. Since there are five different adventures you can experience, it wasn’t like Sorcerers with a long line in front of each video monitor. As I spent time in Adventureland and Caribbean Plaza, I only ran into a few small moments of congestion and it was when I was trying to experience the game. My adventures didn’t include this part, so I’m not sure what happens in this area.
The former window on the right has a screened cabinet (of sorts) with a great flickering candle effect. Inside the cabinet are some gadgets and trinkets (didn’t see any gizmos). If you zoom in a little closer, you can see a reference to a film based on a nearby attraction.
Five Legged Goats
If you look close, you’ll notice that it’s the key to the Dead Man’s Chest from the second Pirates of the Caribbean film. I’ve seen the key in a few different places over the years, so I wonder if Imagineering (or Operations) moves it.
The next item I found was a tribute to the interactive games played at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom over the past few years.The oval medallion was for the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at Epcot Center. The medallion with the ribbon is for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game. It took me a second to figure out the third tribute. My first thought was Indiana Jones. Then I realized it was a skull and I thought, “There you are, Perry!”
Yep, it’s a tribute to our favorite platypus from the Phineas & Ferb animated show. It’s also a tribute to Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure.
So, a platypus skull fits pretty well, I guess.
Any thoughts? Did you get to experience the Caribbean Arcade, Lafitte’s Photo Deck or Lafitte’s? Any great photos or stories to share?
*Official sound of Communicore Weekly Time Travel™.
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