I just returned from the MK where the newly re-opened POTC ride has been operating all day long, without a hitch I am told.
SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! Read at your own risk from now on...
The new marquee out front is nice but not as impressive as it was made to be in the art renderings, which resembled more the one from DLP's POTC. Still is adecuate and some work went into putting some rocks and cannon prop at the base. Nice touch. Simple but effective. Some other less noticable decorative changes were made to the outdoor and queue areas.. Some new banners went up and some painted accents were added to enhance the architecture of the building prior to going indoors. Most shocking to me was the retirement of the talking parrot out front which has been a central figure welcoming guests to ride POTC. I miss it terribly.
Once inside...in the queue.. Not too many changes there. But the queue did appear to be quite clean. Obviously the housekeeping cast from a nearby hotel was hard at work here... :P We'll see how long that lasts.
One tip: always go on the left line. Shorter and moves quicker for some reason.. maybe because the right line is longer and wider?? Duh!!
Once arriving in the boarding platform... again. No differences.
Then we set sail... First up.. the music. There is a different background melody and we hear the ghostly "Dead men tell no tales...!" famous phraze at this point in time.. *before* the waterfall. It used to be heard after the drop. First change is the mist screen thru which we sail on our way to see the pirates. On it, we see that octopus-like face character from the movie to proceed at own risk jada jada. Sorry, since I don't care much for this movie, I have no clue what the characters names are. Feel free to fill in for me. Once we go beyond the mist wall (a not so well executed effect since you can see the entire mechanism that holds it from above) some new blue lighting gives the cave a sense of fog.. but after that. Not much else new.
We then go down the waterfall. ARGH!! More new music plays overhead and as soon as we enter the bay... we spot Jeffrey Rush's character screaming at us from the pirate ship. Nice AA, fluid moves. But if I was Mr. Rush, I'd sue. There are some new booming sounds from the "cannons" but I noticed not much else new here in terms of special effects. Even the jumping water blasts are the same old tired WDW effects that have been in place forever.
We proceed on to the dunking scene. I didn't notice much new here but pass that scene, we get our first glimpse of Depp's character, hiding in between of two womanly mannequins of sorts.. peeking at the situation while the major goes down for his bath in the well every ten seconds.
The imagineers did hit the bullseye with Depp's AA. Very convincing and very much looking like the real thing in costume. Kudos. Made you realize how cheap the Pirate AA inside World of Disney store in DTD really iS!!
Not too many changes from this point on until we get to the "chasing scenes", where the ladies are still chasing the pirates (I thought this was going to get reversed as originally presented but I guess not, and still politically correct even if not all that true to reality if the situation was indeed a real one). Here, we see Depp's AA again popping out of the barrel while the oblivious pirate sits there looking like your average tourist at Pinnochios Village Haus. This particular AA of Depp was the one that impressed me the most. The movements are fluid, as he peeks out of the barrel, looks around and hides. Very very good AA movements there.
We move on pass the town on fire...(same old red lights projected into sheets blown by fans), then pass the jail scene with same dog still sitting there teasing the jail bird wannabes. But then the last change... where we once saw a pair of guards tied up and surronded by a treasure.. now we see Depp's character talking and sitting on a chair in a very "matter of factly" kinda way, I guess making smart arse remarks about getting the loot but not the girl since there are no new female additions here. I guess Kyra or whatever the lead actress' name is... was not worth even talking about here. Not surprisingly.. she is a plain Jane.
Then the ride ends.
Not much else new here at the disembarkation point, except that the CM control console has been moved to the very end of the dock by the moving walkway, whereas it used to be in the very middle of the disembarkation area.
My thoughts... The changes are very small and insignificant to really impress me in a new way. I honestly do not thing anyone else in the boat with me noticed that it was a Depp AA up there because no one seemed impressed or actually spending as much time as I was admiring the changes. In a sense I am glad, because I personally would not like to see this ride being drastically changed for the sake of Disney synergy. As for the technical aspect of the new show... Ho-hum. I was NOT impressed there at all. There is new music and some new dialogue in those few precious scenes that got altered however... not much else was done to the rest of the ride and the difference in quality from the new sounds to the old ones is quite apparent. At least to some those of us who are familiar with the ride's show qualities. The new dialogue was simply hard to follow.. Too much noise to really get what is being said.. much less make any sense of why Depp pops in and out, and why is he sitting at the end enjoying his new found loot. So I was not really able to follow what was going on. The the outdated effects.. I did not noticed anything new there at all, except for that mist screen, and we have all seen that done at DL's INdy with mixed results. Very disappointing to me indeed. Didn't help either I had a child sitting in front of me making noise and simply all over the place. BRAT!
Much to my surprise.. I got there at around 4pm or so and the wait time was only 10 mins. In fact the MK today was not all that crowded. 5 mins standby for Stitch, 20 mins for Buzz', 10 for Haunted M... you get the idea. Kinda odd concidering it is the weekend before the 4th of July. Or maybe the calm before the storm... Put this many people inside TDL and it would have been a virtual ghost town, complete with tumbleweeds rolling by...
To end my report....Once outside the ride, some minor improvements have been made to the gift ship but not really worth talking about. The store remains outside the original store location, and that area has been officially turned into a CM-only area and changing room. Get you Pirate merchadise here... Rumor was the shope would move back indoors.. guess it was not the case. The Johnny Depp doll is quite lifelike and the Pirate Mr. Potato head is too cute. One favorite pin on sale...Minnie as the Redheaded wendge. I am positive our westcoast fans have the same stuff in their Piarate shop and WOD.
And that is it... Not much new to really talk about in this refurbishing of the ride. I feel there were many missed opportunities here.. and honestly... DLP's POTC, with 14 yrs in operation, still has nicer and more upgraded technical and special effects over our version here at WDW. But still... while the ride gets a B for fun factor... the refurbishing itself gets a C- in my book. Nothing great to really recommend highly, so don't make a special trip to Orlando just to see this.
And now...Here are the photos....