Funny thing, synergy.
It seemed like Disney would have a lot more to work with in constructing a film version of its beloved Haunted Mansion ride than its similarly revered Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Both elaborate “ride-thrus” strewn with “audio-animatronic” figures doing their things, the romp through Gracey Mansion seemed to offer more cinematic fruit related to the ride’s spooky, witty set-pieces than the boat journey through a surprisingly lusty piratical sacking of a hapless Spanish Main seaport town.
And yet, the former yielded an uninspired disappointment, and the latter a multi-Oscar-nominated blockbuster alive with mystery, excitement, myth, humor, magic, salty air, adventure, rum, and honor, brilliantly updating the great pirate epics of yore.
Yesterday Disney announced that turnabout is fair play: characters from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, are being added into the theme ride that inspired the film in the first place. Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida will close their slightly-different versions of the attraction in March to complete the updates in time for the opening of the highly anticipated film sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, on July 7 (trailer: WM, Real, QuickTime).
Being added to the swashbuckling theme park voyage where “dead men tell no tales” are Captain Jack Sparrow and his nemesis Barbossa, who will race amid the familar tableaux to claim a cache of plundered treasure, accompanied by the inexorable strains of “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).”
The casting of the first film’s characters couldn’t have been much better, with Johnny Depp’s extravagant, Peter O’Toole-like performance as a multi-dimensional pirate with a conscience earning a best actor nomination, and Geoffrey Rush wholly convincing as Sparrow’s former first mate who marooned him and stole his ship before succumbing to the curse that rendered the entire mutinous crew undead.
Also making a guest appearance in the updated Pirates attraction will be a ghostly Davy Jones character from the Dead Man’s Chest sequel; new special effects will also be added to the theme ride that premiered on March 18, 1967, in New Orleans Square at Disneyland.