Monday, February 20, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure

Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure is the biggest, most technologically impressive, most spectacular attraction Disney has ever built.  Anchoring the Treasure Cove themed land at Shanghai Disneyland, it is the new flagship dark ride E-Ticket of the company--a showcase of what can happen when physical sets and state-of-the-art audio animatronics are combined with 3D projection mapping and dynamic ride vehicles to create a truly immersive and impressive new ride.

Unlike the other Pirates attractions at the other parks, this ride is specifically based upon the movie franchise, rather than upon the original Disneyland version that first touched off the story.  Imagineers figured that the Chinese audience wouldn't really have any emotional attachment to a 1967 attraction due to lack of exposure, but they would certainly understand the characters, stories, and themes of the hit movie franchise.

Today, we take a photo tour through the entire experience, from load to unload.  Needless to say, if you're planning on going to Shanghai Disneyland anytime soon and want to be completely in the dark on the ride so as to preserve the maximum wow impact, warning: there be spoilers ahead!

After guests board the traditional looking Pirates boats, they're off to the Caribbean seas.  The first thing they spot as they round a corner is the familiar Jolly Roger, giving them a familiar warning--in Mandarin, though.

The first room is a twist on the old Blue Bayou float-by.  It's much more Caribbean in nature, as opposed to Disneyland's bayou feel, since guests are already in a tropical setting when boarding.

Off to the side, guests dining at the Barbossa's Bounty Restaurant can glimpse a bit of the ride.  Unlike other Disney parks, this is a quick serve restaurant as opposed to a reservation-required sit-down.

Passing by a waterfall before we begin the ride in earnest.


The start of the ride carries a familiar feel, with the skeletons of pirates past caught in various acts of villainy.

These buccaneers are playing cards.

Of course, you have to have this scene, but it's been modified to fit the undead pirates motif.

Yup, even the dog.

A close-up of a departed swab.

Then we round the corner, where we come upon a shipwrecked pirate ship.

I never got a picture of it, but guests' first view of the unfolded scene features a skeleton piloting the rudder--a clear reference to the stormy such scene in the other Pirates attractions.  But in an impressive effect right before guests' eyes, the skeleton magically transforms into Jack Sparrow!

Jack is in need of a brave seafaring crew to help him fetch treasure.

Apparently, there is some sunken treasure that all the local pirates are after. 

Seems to make sense.  That's the name of the ride, and pirates love booty.

An interesting aspect of this ride is that the boats themselves are not the traditional rigid watercraft of Pirates rides past.  Each boat is actually on a turntable and rotates around like an omni-mover, framing each scene like a camera.

At this point, the boat "dives" into the sea.  A crescendo of music accompanies this dramatic move.

Guests come upon the sea floor, where they find a graveyard of ships.

Sure enough, the undead pirates are around, along with some other beasts!

This giant squid quickly lurches and swims away.

Guests enter through the hull of one sunken ship, spotting the fleeing squid in the distance.  It's a good example of how the physical sets are combined with virtual projections.

As riders continue through the naval ruins, they spot sirens serenading them.

Don't get too close. They're rather deadly.

Proceeding deeper into the graveyard of ships brings guests to the sunken treasure.  And a pair of hapless pirates.

The detail here is striking.

The shimmering treasures and wreckage of old vessels look fantastic.

It's all quite photogenic, for sure!

Such a cool bow.

There's more treasure in the next room.

Certainly understandable to see why pirates might be battling for it, even if there seems to be more than enough to share.

Maccus, the first mate of Davy Jones, springs up to taunt the riders / trespassers.

He is not pleased that Jack Sparrow has sent a team to recover the treasure.

How bold of everyone to think to cross Davy Jones.

The detail on the animatronic is quite impressive.

Sure enough, guests come upon Davy Jones himself.

He does not appear to be pleased at being interrupted in his organ playing.

He presumably threatens the riders.  No emissary of Jack Sparrow is welcome.

Let the battle begin...

In the next chamber, the ghost ships rapidly start to rise up toward the surface, and guests with them.

Bursting upon the waters, Davy Jones boldly announces war on those who would claim his gold.

The battle rages in earnest, and guests are caught in the crossfire!

Consider this the updated version of the classic scene of pirate's siege upon the fortress.

The boat escapes unscathed, then creeps into a sinking ship.

It seems like this vessel is not stable.

Here, Captain Jack engages in sword-to-sword combat with Davy Jones.

A cannon shot toward Davy Jones misses and sends water rushing into the compartment, and riders escape out through another opening via a surprise backwards drop (which is also where the on-ride camera is located).

Everyone seems to be safe as guests float by an escape rowboat washed ashore.

It turns out Jack escaped as well, and recovered his treasure!  But beware--depending on your ride, that treasure may be cursed and disappear, leaving Jack speechless and despondent.

Fortunately, riders survive to try for the treasure another day.
Battle for the Sunken Treasure winds up a very close #2 on my list of all-time favorite Disney attractions, just barely behind Mystic Manor.  The deciders are incredibly nitpicky and subjective, and they ultimately come down to the fact that Mystic Manor had a magic and child-like whimsy that left me grinning like a little kid when I exited my first ride through--a reliving of my earliest memories of Disney wonder.  Pirates left me thoroughly impressed and going, "wow," but couldn't quite match the degree of giddiness.  So like I said, very subjective.  (It doesn't hurt either that Mystic Manor has an adorable monkey protagonist named Albert.) No doubt it is #1 in most people's lists.  Regardless of preference, this is an amazing ride, and a must-do (several times) for anyone visiting Shanghai Disneyland!

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