Pirates of the Caribbean, the Disney Parks ride that later became Johnny Depp’s regular paycheck, is finally getting rid of the intensely creepy moment that is the Wench Auction, and the only real issue is why it didn’t happen sooner.
Kathy Mangum, a Walt Disney Imagineering executive, announced that the Pirates of the Caribbean rides at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, and Disneyland Paris will update the Mercado auction scene to no longer be a parade of tied-up women being sold off to pirates as “wives,” although we know that’s basically sexual slavery. A Disney Parks rep confirmed to us that the auction scene is being changed, as reported, but won’t go away entirely.
According to the post, it will instead be an auction of valuables that were stolen from the townspeople, serving a similar purpose but removing the awful element. The sign will read “Surrender Your Loot” rather than “Take a Wench for a Bride,” and both men and women will be lining up to turn over their goods. They’re even keeping the famous unnamed Redhead, only she’ll be an awesome pirate bidding on the auction. And she gets a gun.
Artists’ rendering of the new ride scene. Image: Disney Imagineering
The 50-year-old Disney ride has gone through several renovations over the years, and the process has been weird and uneven. It started in the 1990s by changing the scene where pirates are chasing female victims around. Now, some of the women are holding food, and others have been reversed so the men are being chased. This was a smart update, designed to make the ride less insulting to women, though it’s weird that they recognised that that needed to be changed but not the Wench Auction.
There are already Disney purists denouncing the update, along with those who don’t like any change they consider “politically correct,” but frankly I don’t care. The ride isn’t an historically accurate representation of the 1600s, it’s a romanticized tribute to “A Pirate’s Life,” which includes ghosts, shanties, and (now) Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s supposed to be fun, and the Wench Auction took away from that. Now, the ride can be as entertaining as it was always meant to be.
Disneyland Paris’ Pirates of the Caribbean ride reopens July 24 with the new auction scene, and the plan is to update the other two sometime in 2018.