What’s that we spy on the horizon?! It’s the wraps finally coming down on the epic restoration of Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship in Adventureland! This landmark of Adventure Isle has been hidden behind a themed scrim and a mass of scaffolding for 10 months of solid work, seeing the ship stripped right back to its shell and rebuilt with fresh materials — and colours. One of the biggest projects announced at the special 20th Anniversary Refurbishments event we attended back in March 2011, the refurbishment faced several delays but now looks set to be ready for the big anniversary date as @InsideDLParis shares these photos of the scaffolding beginning to be taken down today.
In the process of its restoration, Imagineers at Walt Disney Imagineering Paris have given the ship a whole new colour scheme. Just like Sleeping Beauty Castle it takes the attraction back, closer to its original 1992 look, but comes with enough fresh touches and design choices to stand separately. A previous refurbishment of the ship had taken away some of the “fantasy” look of this Peter Pan legend, giving it a rather dreary appearance with darker exposed wood and black suddenly outweighing the brighter red. The ship no longer offered such a powerful bridge between Adventureland and the colourful, nearby Fantasyland that its more whimsical original colours provided.
Thankfully, Captain Hook’s new look takes the ship right back to those fantasy roots, and then some. The balance has shifted back to a crisp, bright red with black taking a smaller role. The skull and crossbones at the back of the ship has again been picked out in a crisp ivory white and the entire stern repainted in a vibrant red, contrasting beautifully with the luscious green palms of the tropical island.
White masts were an interesting feature of the 1992 scheme that haven’t been recreated, with the Imagineers opting instead for a dark brown that no doubt fares better in Marne-la-Vallée’s not-so-tropical climate. Instead, the big pièce de résistance of this restoration is, naturally, the gold. Peggie Fariss, head of WDI Paris, explained at last year’s presentation that they really wanted to emphasise the generous riches plundered by these pirates during their travels.
Captain Hook may be blundering, but he has certainly had his fair share of treasure bounties while sailing the seas, and that wealth should be expressed much more vividly in the ship itself. And so, rather than the plain, light exposed wood of the 1992 scheme, the 2012 version comes with a shimmering, golden finish to its edges and sides. Even the mermaid figurehead has turned gold!
This Pirate Ship is an important landmark not just in our Adventureland but in the history of Disney parks. In 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland with the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship based on Peter Pan, but this popular icon was removed in 1982 to make way for an expansion of Fantasyland. Spotting their perfect opportunity with a new park, Adventureland show producer Chris Tietz and the other Imagineers of Euro Disneyland recreated the almost-forgotten ship for Paris, ten years later, and it remains the only life-size Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship in any Disney park in the world.
After this momentary blip, may it remain sea-worthy and splendid for ever more.
Now, walk the plank and see how the ship looked before restoration… (not for the faint of heart!)
Soon the ship will look even better than opening day…