Friday, March 2, 2012

Disneyland - Pirates Adventures

Having friends in New Orleans/Bear Country Attractions had its benefits.
Among them, the chance to join in the fun before opening or during special events and parties when the Pirates of the Caribbean would be opened up for a cast member tour (some official, most---and the best---unofficial).
If you have never seen the Pirates from outside the boat, let me tell you, you've missed something special.
The Pirates show building sits on the south side of the berm and takes up a good portion of the backstage area behind New Orleans Square.
Like Small World, Pirates has walkways that track the flume where the boats go.
They wind in and out of the "on stage" scenes, blinking back and forth from cavern to chicken wire and plaster (the backside of the rocks that make up the sea caves of the attraction).
There are gangways for access to lighting and sound elements.
A large room near the end of the attraction makes up "boat storage."
You can see the access to boat storage just after you pass under the laughing pirate and enter the burning jail scene.
The backstage areas literally look like a soundstage or a true "back stage." Lots of plywood, 2x4s, wires, electrical boxes, light fixtures and the like.
Most of the back stage consists of walkways with wooden railings.
These are lit with the old style light bulbs in little wire cages to protect the bulbs from being broken when bumped by a ladder or some other contrivance as the maintenance crew works behind the scenes.
Deep in the bowels of the attraction, one will find the pump room.
It is an all-important part of a water-based attraction.
Imagine the amount of water those pumps push through each day!
While you are enjoying your trip, there is an entire crew of maintenance personnel keeping the water flowing, the lights lit, the fire detection/response system operational and the audio-animatronics moving smoothly.
Oh, and they can see you.
Really see you.
Those romantic trips as a teen in the back of the boat through the darkest parts of the ride?
They saw you.
Infrared cameras televise it all to the control tower so that safety can be maintained.
I've heard tell there are still some ancient video tapes floating around with some pretty racy scenes of guests getting the most out of the attraction.
Next time you're feeling amorous in the POTC, be sure to turn and smile!
It'll make some cast member's day!

Gotta run for now.
You guys stay here with the boat.
And don't eat anything Sam tries to sell you.

Trust me.



Jonathan said...

I never grew tired of seeing behind the scenes. Two of my most memorable were Pirates and the basement of the Tiki Room.

Anonymous said...

One of the joys of working Pirates was the ability to go downstairs and walk through the attraction. The maze of stairways, walkways and exit points was a challenge to learn.

They really offer tours of the attraction?? That was unheard of back in my day. I too was asked a few times by other CMs for a tour to see how it all worked and took a few of them through such unauthorized visits. If caught, I'm sure it would have lead to a suspension.

And nothing was better on a hot day working crowd control or the JC and be told by your lead that Pirates was down and needed to be evacuated (which rarely happened). First it was great to get in the water (with waders)to push the boats to exit points. You can imagine the conversations we had with the guests. But it was also a logistical challenge to do it efficiently and safely. You really needed to use your skills to make it happen (and before some enterprising guests decided to do it for themselves).

Cameras? Oh yes. Loved working the tower. Felt like mission control. And if needed as you know, you had the ability to hold boats before the falls. There would always been some foolish kids trying to jump in, out and between boats. Imagine when I hit the PA, it must have sounded like God coming from the heavens.

As for the more adverturesome on Grad nights, it was legendary. But I saw little of it and nothing like the rumors that CMs floated around. There were no video recorders at the time so it was mostly hearsay.

Anyway, the last time I made it to Pirates, it looks like Dispatch is now in the Unload area and the tower appeared to be unmanned. If so, then who now really tends the cameras????

As always a great post. #4