Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Review – Disneyland California

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of Disneyland’s early rides and has stood the test of time as a stalwart of Disneyland Park, California. The tales of these plucky buccaneers have enthralled children for years but does this musty old relic of yesteryear still stand up against the modern wonders of the theme park world? Find out in our Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Review.

Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Review
  • Location – Disneyland Park – New Orleans Land
  • Type – Water-Based Dark Ride
  • Duration – 15 Mins+
  • Height Restriction – None
  • Average Queue time – 5mins -25 Mins
  • Genie+ – YES
  • Additional Info – Classic 1967 Ride
  • Thrill Rating
  • Fun
  • Smoothness and Comfort
  • Uniqueness and Theming
  • Value For Time

What Is The Pirates of the Caribbean?

In the Big Themeparks of America, it is very common to have a ride named and themed after a film franchise. It is less common for a film franchise to be named after a ride, however. But the 2003 film that began the hugely successful franchise was indeed, loosely, based on the ride, or at least the general concept of the ride.

This was a big risk for the film, but of little relevance to the classic ride that was first installed way back in 1967. This ride is a typical Disney dark ride, as you meander through the waterways taking in the scenes from pirate lore.

The Ride is a gentle boat ride through a series of heavily Pirate-themed Dioramas depicting scenes from the golden age of Pirating or at least Hollywood’s version of the golden age. It is a true classic but it has undertaken quite a few changes in its decades of operation.

While there are versions of this ride in all of Disney’s parks, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, and Florida. The California Version is the original, biggest, and best of them all! When they got Johnny Depp to dress up as Captain Jack Sparrow and hide in the ride to scare guests it was always going to be the Disneyland Version they Chose!

2022 Update

On our last visit, in March 2022 the Ride was closed for refurbishment. This was being advertised is a pretty major ride update and we were not sure exactly what the new experience will be like. When we returned in October 2022 the ride was back open. However, there did not seem to be anything notably different from the ride when we rode in 2019 and then again in 2022. We tend not to film the Pirates of the Caribbean ride due to the fact that it is mainly dark so a video is pretty pointless. Relying on our memories alone, there was nothing major added or removed from the classic ride during its refurbishment.

What it has done is added some real polishing, additional detail, and upgraded lighting effects. The ride now looks the best it has in years and really does justice to this classic Dark Ride.


The Queue line is pretty forgettable, fortunately, it is also often quite short as there are up to 50 boats operating on a continuous loop taking up to 24 riders in each boat. So you can be quickly on the ride. This is one of the few rides where you often spend less time in the queue and more time on the ride.

Ride Experience

The Ride is a very gentle one and suitable for all ages. There are a couple of drops but they are very mild and nothing more than a way to get you down to the lower parts of the ride.

The Ride is dark and creepy in some parts and used to have some minor adult themes, but these can easily be overlooked by young children who will not get it. Besides these have been “re-imagined” lately and are no longer an issue. Which is a shame as the Wenches auction was the highlight of the ride!

POTC Wenches
The Iconic, but now defunct, Wenches Auction by Natalie Warren on CC2.0

After the drops, the ride just floats long taking in one diorama after the other. Some scenes have been re-imagined to match the film and you will find Jack Sparrow in a few different locations around the ride. There will be Storms, Galleon Battles, ghosts, Skeletons, and all kinds of high Seas Dramas. but the ride itself is just a gentle boat trip, through some slightly whiffy water.


Overall it is a truly fantastic ride. The constant updates and tweaks have kept the basic ride right up to date and feeling quite fresh. It is everything you expect, and want, from a Disney ride. The dioramas are incredible. The attention to detail is like nothing else on earth. It is not a ride to set the pulse racing but one for the whole family that has really stood the test of time.

While the animatronics are pretty clunky and the effects all bit cheesy and weak it still all adds up to a really fun trip through the pirating world. Don’t expect modern thrills and effects as you would leave disappointed, but this is not what you come to Disneyland for instead, you expect stunning presentation and remarkable attention to detail and that is what Pirates provides, even down to the musty, oceany, gun-powdery aromas that permeate the ride areas.

Disneyland POTC entrance

Have Your Say

Let us know your thoughts on The Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. Has it stood the test of time? Or is it an old musty washed-up mess? Were the Drops too much for you or was it all just a bit boring? If you love it as a Disney classic or Loathe it as a relic of time best forgotten, let us know in the comments below!

You May Also Like:

Leave a Comment