After 50 years of animatronic sex trafficking, Disney is finally putting a lid on robotic misbehavior.
Drinking and pillaging and shooting are still fine. But that brides-up-for-auction scene is getting the heave-yo-ho-ho from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland and Disney World.
The Disneyland ride will shut down April 23 and likely will reopen about a month later with that auction tableau more reflective of modern sensibilities. Because if there’s a subject that demands a lighter touch, its marauding men armed with cannons, guns and swords attacking and burning down an unsuspecting village.
When the Pirates ride comes back online, the bride auction that threw a wench into the family-friendly look will be gone.
Instead, young children will float by a scene that finds a well-put-together, pistol-packing woman overseeing a line of vanquished townspeople surrendering their worldly possessions for auction.
If that doesn’t say fun for all ages, nothing does.
Roughly 20 years ago, enlightened Imagineers altered another scene to meet with current tastes. When the ride opened in Disneyland in 1967, pirates chased women in circles, always so close yet so far away, given each figure was bolted to a turntable.
Thanks to a little magic fairy dust called “maintenance and refurbishment,” those pirates now pursue women who are bearing liquor. Apparently it was better the pirates were alcoholics rather than sexists. Not a change you would expect in a park that has never sold booze to the general public.
Other alterations were made for more commercial reasons, like adding Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the “Pirates” movie franchise. Understandable, since that’s what Disney is known for.
The rest of the ride has remained fairly intact for 51 years. Pirates still launch a fusillade of cannonballs toward a town that was minding its own business. Once the pillaging is through, the pirates start drinking, shooting at one another in a drunken haze. Then they burn down the village.
All done to a jaunty pirate tune. Delightful.
Count me among the traditionalists who prefer Walt Disney’s original version with unadulterated animatronic-on-animatronic crime.
What happens among conscious-free mechanical characters attached to a single point should stay among conscious-free mechanical characters attached to a single point.
Until that time someone imbues all of Disney’s robots with artificial intelligence.
It’s not the pirates I fear. Instead, look toward the malevolent joy displayed by an army of gaily painted dolls.
It’s a small world indeed.