A new Magic Kingdom attraction adds more swashbuckling to Adventureland.
A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas continues the Walt Disney World trend of scavenger hunts mixed with interactive technology. The back story includes Jack Sparrow, lead character in Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.
"Adventureland is under attack by the British Royal Navy. They're coming to end all piracy in the Caribbean and Jack Sparrow doesn't want that to happen," says Matt Beiler, an assistant producer with Walt Disney Imagineering.
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Guests who participate in Pirate's Adventure are considered recruits to Sparrow's crew. Step one: Obtain a mission, map and "magic talisman" from the Enlistment Center, a small building just outside the Adventureland arch on the Frontierland side.
Sparrow "believes if we collect the treasures of the Seven Seas, we'll have the power of the sea itself," which will drive back the Adventureland interlopers, Beiler says. Sparrow already has two of the treasures, leaving five missions available for guests/recruits.
Each mission has four spots to discover and "each one has its own secret magic hidden throughout Adventureland," Beiler says.
The talisman — a thin, five-sided paper token — activates special effects when directions are followed correctly.
Beiler walked me through several stops of Pirate's Adventure this week. Along the way, we dodged blow darts, cannon fire and a variety of skulls. We watched ships in bottles do battle. We gathered venom from a cobra and needed the breath of a panther to complete missions.
Each clue leads to another clue. Go to the wrong station and a voice warns "you've gotten off course."
The mission maps are in a pirate style (burned edges, fanciful cursive writing on faux parchment), and their instructions are clear-cut. That's a plus for a lagging pirate such as myself, who has difficulty finding the assigned location or where to place the talisman to get things moving. Some clues were well-camouflaged into existing architecture and design of the land. I've learned that I can't be on TV's "The Amazing Race" unless I get to bring an Imagineer along.
Nevertheless, it's an activity designed to be good for all ages, Beiler says.
"Anyone of any age that wants to be a pirate and have an adventure, this is great for them," he says.
You can finish off one map and call it a day or go back for another one using the same talisman. Folks who complete all five missions — even spread over multiple days — get an additional special effect and become official members of Jack's crew.
A Pirate's Adventure joins the ranks of Epcot's Phineas & Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure, which has an activator the size of a cellphone and a spy theme, and the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, which has more complicated tales and collectible cards that activate on-screen animations in the theme park.
Wilderness Explorers, another guest-interaction activity, opened this week at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It concentrates on understanding animals and Earth in order to earn badges.
But in Adventureland, it's all about the pirates, including the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the mini-makeover provided at the Pirates League.
"Your whole day could be pirates if you wanted it to be," Beiler says.
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A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas
Where: Magic Kingdom, off Interstate 4, southwest of Orlando
When: Open daily
Cost: Included in regular park admission; a one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom is $95 ($89 for ages 3-9).