One former Disneyland cast member who entertained guests as Captain Jack Sparrow as part of the park’s promotion of the popular Pirates Of The Caribbean films has written a revealing look at his life as a Disney character. From what it took to get hired, his day to day responsibilities, and what eventually led to his termination you get a unique look at his job.
Disney wanted us to tone Jack down, so they put us through an acting class to discover reasons why Jack walks and talks the way he does. Obviously he is based on Keith Richards, who’s always messed up, which is why they came up with the class. “Don’t be flirtatious,” they told us. “See women as trouble.” And they said as far as alcohol goes, don’t even mention drinking. But the Pirates of the Caribbean song is all about drinking, and they’re drinking all along the ride. So I eventually broke that rule, because it would have taken me out of character. When parents took pictures, I’d say, “Everyone say ‘rum,’ ” and the parents loved it. The kids would just ask, “What’s rum?”
As you might expect, Jack Sparrow (portrayed by Johnny Depp in the movies) was a ‘popular’ character:
As Jack, I had four hour-long sets a day. We worked in New Orleans Square. I would find a place I liked, and the hosts would set up my line. A host is someone who helps run the line of people that forms to meet you. They’re basically your security. When we started, Disney thought they wouldn’t give us a host. They thought we’d mingle. I laughed at that. I said, “I don’t mean to be the guy that knows it all, but from Renaissance Faires I can guarantee you this character will have the park’s longest line.” Disney had invented a Jack Sparrow autograph the three of us learned, and immediately the line for autographs was gigantic. The Jacks ultimately got two hosts.