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Burning the Village, and Your Escape...

The "flaming town" is one of the most startling effects in the entire POTC attraction. As discussed in the history section of the site, when the effects were first being tested in the mid-'60s, some wary visitors even thought that real flame was being used for the scene. Red-hot lighting effects, dancing shadows, and flickering flames (created safely with illuminated strips of celephane blowing through the air) give the viewer pause. Pictured at the top of the page is a rare view of the burning town from off stage, and pictured above left a "maquette," or production model, of the scene.

This drunk pirate tries his best to sing along with his comrades, though he can barely hold himself upright without the help of a lamppost.

As the town burns brighter, the pirates grow dimmer as the alcohol takes its toll. Pirates stand around with their lit torches burning in their hands, unaware of their surroundings. Others wallow in the mud with pigs and stray cats. The guests' boat drifts directly under a stone archway under the glazed gaze of a stupified pirate.

The Audio-Animatronic pirates were created with exagerated features and facial expressions, but they are still amazingly lifelike. The cartoon-ish features seem to be believable and appropriate amidst the extreme drunken behavior of the pirates. The following excerpt from "Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean" souvenir guide explains:

In [the WED sculptors'] clay modeling, they were first confronted with the problem of composing heads which were typical of real persons, and not merely cartoon characters. Features were exagerated to provide characteristics recognizable instantly, and to facilitate three-dimensional animation.... Just as actors are chosen for roles in motion pictures, so also were the heads "cast" to the figures. Dialogue, body size, and part in the show dictated which heads were to be used.

The famous theme song, "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirate's Life for Me," by X Atencio and George Bruns, plays continuously through the torching of the town sequence.

Guests find themselves floating past an array of minstrels, sailors, and thieves as they continue floating onward. Meanwhile, it is difficult to avoid humming along with "X" Atencio's famous theme song:

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me!
We pillage, plunder, we rifle and loot,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!

We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!
Maraud and embezzle and even highjack,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!

We kindle and char and enflame and ignite,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!
We burn up the city, we're really a fright,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!

We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villains and knaves,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!
We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!

We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do well cads,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!

YO HO (A Pirate's Life for Me)
© Walt Disney Music Co.

The audio soundtrack from the jail scene portrays the nervous pirates stuck in a burning prison trying to con the guard dog into giving up his key.

The boats continue their trip through the melee, drifting into the foundations of the town and passing prison cells that are threatened by the looming flames... as are the captive pirates trapped inside, some of whom are frantically trying to bribe a guard dog into bringing them the keys to the cell, which he holds tauntingly in his jaws.

Finally drifing into a burning building, guests are suddenly thrust into the midst of burning embers and flaming pillars. From above, ominous creaking sounds echo through the subterranean chamber as the foundations of the buildings above sway and burning beams crack and groan under the pressure. The boats then enter the town's underground arsenal and armory.

The creaking beams inside some of the burning buildings of the Caribbean town sway menacingly above the heads of the guests...

Guests drift between stockpiles of weapons, cannonballs, and stacked barrels of gunpowder. The drunken pirates are oblivious to the imminent threat, as they take potshots at guests in the boats, the casks of gunpowder, and each other while their shots ricochet off of the walls and armor stored in the room.

With this final scene, guests' tour of the world of the pirates comes to an end. Before the inebriated salts can blow the arsenal into pieces, our boats make their escape by heading "up" a waterfall. However, with the 2005 attraction overhaul, one final scene of Jack Sparrow awaits guests as they escape the town's armory. It seems Jack has found his treasure stash, while the ghost of Davy Jones taunts guests as they make their escape. Reversing fortune, the boats take their visitors back to the safety of the placid Blue Bayou, from where they will return to the magical sights and sounds of the Disney theme park, ready to set sail for another adventure!

The finale of the attraction is heard as guests head out of the burning town, "up" a waterfall, and land safely back at the dock. Yo ho!

Buy the Official Guidebook to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction and Films here!

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