Review – The Pirate’s League at Magic Kingdom

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Walt Disney World is necessarily tilted in the direction of young girls.  After all, their biggest selling merchandise is Princess gear.  There are, however, a few things that Disney offers for young boys.  One of the most recent ideas they have unveiled is The Pirate’s League, an immersive experience where boys and other guests are transformed from tourists to pirates.  On a recent trip, my son took this journey, with me along to chronicle things.  

Registering for The Pirate’s League is quite simple.  You can either call 407-WDW-CREW and sign up for a time, or walk up to the podium between Pirates of theCaribbean and the Pirates store.  The normal experience at The Pirate’s Leagues costs $29.99 plus tax, which is quite reasonable for this sort of thing.  After all, prices at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique start at $54.99.  You will need park admission to get in and visit the Pirates of the Caribbean area.

The experience began with my son being given a choice of the facial effect he would like.  The choices include the Cannibal Island multi-eyed effect that Jack Sparrow wore in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, a skeleton pirate or a bearded pirate with a scar, among a few others.  This was a source of contention for my boy, since he does not like face paint.  I convinced him to play along and then we could wash it off, but he was not enthused, to say the least.

After picking the effect, we were taken into the inner room to pick his pirate name.  Through an elaborate process involving dice, a book and more, my son was rechristened as Simon Badbones and given a pass into the next room.  The main room, where the barber’s chairs were, is elaborately themed, with pirate gear all along the ceiling, across the walls and even with themed crates in the middle of the room.  That’s where we were told to wait, while others finished their pirate makeovers.

Once in the chair, my son begrudgingly allowed the cast member to paint on a beard and scar, despite his misgivings.  His aversion to face paint nearly undermined the entire experience, so if your child doesn’t like make up, you might want to skip The Pirate’s League.  After the make up, he was given a removable tattoo on his hand, a reversible bandana over his head, a fake earring, an eye patch and a set of fake “pirate” teeth.  Throughout, the cast member tried to engage him in pirate talk, but my son was not having it.  He’s very shy, though, and the cast member was quite good at her job, so it was still pretty fun for him. 

Once everything was in place, he was turned around and announced to the room as a new pirate, much to his delight.  We were then lead into the corner of the room, where a different cast member gave him a sash with a plastic sword.  She then trained him on the rules of sword play, mainly making sure that he did not hit other guests with it.   I thought this was a very nice touch, because it mirrored the pirate code we heard about in the movies, but added a touch of safety to the makeover.

After the sword lessons, we were led into a “secret” room, where he was able to discover a piece of treasure, a pirate medallion that was the key to the exit.  Again, this added a touch of magic to the experience, because you could not take pictures in this room and they tied it in with the end of the entire session.

Once we left, it was time to pay up.  This was where the catch came in.  In the “secret” room, he had his photo taken, and to purchase the photo was an extra $14.95.  now, that came with a few extras, which makes it really difficult to pass up.  The folio the picture came in has a secret code, that the pirate medallion can decode.  Throwing this in front of a 9 year old boy is like throwing Milkbones to a dog.  I was sunk.  I bought the picture, and came out of the entire thing spending just under $50 with tax.  The cast member tried to sell us on other touches, such as a t-shirt or costume, so be prepared for that as well.  The $29.99 price is definitely there to get people in, but most people I saw were buying costumes, photos and more.

The final touch was a personalized pirate oath, where Simon Badbones was sworn in as a member of Jack Sparrow’s crew.  The completed product was a happy boy, who wore the sword, sheath and bandanna for the next three days we were at the parks.  Other than the face paint, the entire thing was fun.  If you get into the idea, and play along with the cast members, you’ll have even more fun.

The final price is not that bad for about an hour long experience, even with the picture.  It’s definitely cheaper than the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which we also did in this trip.  Speaking of which, there are makeovers for girls in The Pirate’s League, so don’t be afraid to take them.  They’re called “Empress” makeovers, and include eyeshadow and a little less of the skeleton/scarring type make up.  Otherwise the end result is the same.

Finally, your child will be included in a pirate parade through Adventureland, provided you have your makeover before mid afternoon.  My son did not want to participate (he said it would take away from our touring plan.  Love him) so we did not experience this.  All in all, though, the Pirate’s League was really a fun experience, and something I would recommend if you want your kids to really get into the fun of the Magic Kingdom.

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Posted on August 16, 2011

7 Responses to “Review – The Pirate’s League at Magic Kingdom”

  • We did the Pirates League in May when we were there and absolutely LOVED IT! My two sons, my husband and I all got made over as pirates (I got the mermaid which was discontinued in July I think). Such an awesome experience and much less expensive than the BBB. The best part was the attention we got throughout the rest of our day at MK. Peter Pan tried to sword fight with us and Mickey and Minnie covered their eyes. And riding the pontoon to Tom Sawyers Island was also much more interactive for us with our pirate garb on. Highly recommend the Pirates League.

  • We did this in April and had a blast! My 10-year old daughter loved going to the BBB on previous visits but was lukewarm about going again on this trip. I made our reservations as a surprise for her and just she and I ended up going (my husband backed out). A surprise bonus was that Capt. Jack Sparrow came in and greeted all of us who were getting makeovers (it was raining and the Pirate Tutorial was cancelled). We both ended up getting the “smokey-eyed jack” makeover, complete with beard! The CM told me that most of the women who get make-over do get the beard makeup. We really got a lot of smiles and positive comments from other guests and cast members the rest of the day. My normally shy daughter said that this was the best part of the whole day at Magic Kingdom–mine, too! :) We would definitely recommend this.

  • by Keith C (TheFugitiveGuy) on August 17, 2011, at 9:05 am EDT

    Great writeup Ryan! To be be honest, there are so many things to do in MK, I had never really considered bringing my daughters to the Pirates League. But your detailed post makes it sound pretty tempting :) (By the way, I love the fact that your son was defending the touring plan schedule — I’ve gotta work on training my girls better!)

  • We have done this twice. Even my barely 3 year old did it! With all the princess stuff my boys look forward to this on each trip, along with the Pirate Adventure from the Grand Floridian

  • We LOVED it …. only problem we had was booking a late (last two slots) time so we hadn’t been seen yet once the parade started and my kids were really disappointed because they couldn’t do it. Also the times are like the dining “reservations” so add some extra time to your plan we waited an hour past our time to begin! Beyond that my kids LOVED it…and an extra BONUS when you buy one of the photos…they will add ALL of them to your PHOTOPASS! Since we were there so long and prebought our photopass CD it was wonderful to get them all added to something we were getting anyway…and much cheaper than buying a big package since the photos were all great! ENJOY!

  • by Susan Carpenter on April 1, 2014, at 8:31 am EDT

    How about a review of the Mermaid makeover. Not too much info out there on this and my daughter is definitely a mermaid NOT a pirate.

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