July 26, 2021

Goodbye bride auction

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Say goodbye to the Pirates of the Caribbean bride auction at Disneyland

By MARLA JO FISHER |From Orange County Register

Disneyland is preparing to nix the familiar scene on its Pirates of the Caribbean ride where captive, tied-up women are auctioned off as brides, presumably to pirates, as it will be shut down temporarily starting April 23 to make the switch.

As visitors riding in small boats enter the scene currently, they come upon a sign that reads, “Auction: Take a wench for a bride,” with a line of most unhappy looking women waiting to be sold, and one voluptuous red-haired woman vamping for the crowd, under the watchful eye of an elegantly dressed auctioneer.

The new animatronic scene will show the same saucy redhead, but now she’ll be a female pirate overseeing an auction of local loot, instead of the former scene in which she was the loot.

A Disney spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that the changeover will take place beginning on April 23, but she couldn’t say what other repairs or revamps might take place at the same time. Disney rides go dark regularly for scheduled maintenance, generally in the off season. Published reports have pegged the reopening date as June 7, but no official date has been given.

“Disneyland needs to reflect the times, and it seems to me this is the time to change it,” blogger Dusty Sage of the Micechat.com forum said. “It’s uncomfortable even for me to see women being sold into bondage and human trafficking. I can’t even imagine what little girls think about this. It seems to me that Disney was just ahead of the curve on all this ‘Me Too’ movement, because they announced this change last summer.”

Not everyone agrees with the change, though, including unofficial Disneyland historian and author David Koenig, who said “this one really irks me — but does not surprise me.”

Koenig said when the topic came up last year at a Disney convention called D23, “Disney fans started booing.”

“The bride auction is being removed because Disney is lily-livered,” Koenig said. “No one is really offended by animatronic pirates acting lusty. It’s in-character silliness. I don’t advocate gunplay, thievery, alcoholism or sexism, but I’m still able to enjoy a show in which pirates behave like pirates.”

This is the second time the popular Pirates attraction has specifically been revamped to make it more in tune with current values, although it’s also been updated numerous times, for example, to add an animatronic version of the popular character of Capt. Jack Sparrow from the movie franchise.

In 1997, Disney replaced a portion of the same vignette that previously showed lusty pirates chasing frightened wenches – with its implication the women would soon be assaulted. The new scene shows a pirate still chasing a woman, but she’s carrying a platter with booze that he appears to covet.

“We don’t want to put anyone in a jeopardy role,” Imagineer Tony Baxter said at the time about the changes.

Although some people have complained that Disneyland shouldn’t mess with tradition, over the years the park has changed to reflect changing mores. For example, a cabin fire is no longer blamed on marauding Indians. And a zaftig Aunt Jemima slave woman no longer meets people in front of a pancake house.

“They are pirates, and pirates rape and pillage and plunder, but how much of that is appropriate for a theme park ride?” blogger Sage said. “The temptation is to be afraid of any change and I love tradition, but this is a case where they have to change.”


1961: Disneyland founder Walt Disney assigns Imagineer Marc Davis to design a pirate-themed, walk-through wax museum for his 6-year-old theme park, but then the new technology of audio-animatronics enables engineers to think beyond mere wax dummies.

Dec. 15, 1966: Walt Disney dies before he could see Pirates come to life, the same year that New Orleans Square opened.

March 18, 1967: The technologically advanced animatronic “Pirates of the Caribbean” opens in New Orleans Square, and instantly becomes an icon of the park.

March 7, 1997: The ride is redesigned to incorporate new scenes and updated technology for its 30th anniversary, including

July 9, 2003: The movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” based on the Disneyland ride, is released.

June 6, 2006: Disneyland opens a redesigned ride, incorporating the voices and likenesses of the movie’s actors Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy and Geoffrey Rush and a revised music track.

(From the Orange County Register archive)

“Wench Auction” scene at Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland in Anaheim on Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018. Disney is changing the 50-year old scene into a public auction of loot. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The auction scene in Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. The scene is famous for the line spoken by pirates “We wants the Redhead” as heard by riders in the boats. (File photo by: Bruce Chambers, Orange County Register/SCNG)

In this 2006 photo of the attraction, the rope binding the women to be sold is much more visible. (File photo by: Bruce Chambers, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Redhead in the auction scene of Pirates of the Caribbean will be recast as a pirate when the attraction reopens later this year. (File photo by: Bruce Chambers, Orange County Register/SCNG)

An artist’s rendering of the changes planned for Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which will be revamped starting April 23 to remove the bride auction that some people find offensive. (Rendering courtesy of Disney)

For more on this story go to; https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/13/say-goodbye-to-the-pirates-of-the-caribbean-bride-auction-at-disneyland/

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