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The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow – now confirmed!

When is an attraction announcement not really an announcement? When it’s published accidentally, that’s when. It’s no secret that the Prince Caspian exhibit has been moved out of its Sound Stage in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There has even been some speculation about what would be going into that space on various fan sites.

Usually those exhibits are ‘sponsored’ by some marketing budget or another from the Walt Disney Studios. Typically the goal is to sell DVDs or build audience affiliation for a sequel. So it was assumed that the next exhibit would be for a movie that had seen some success (which means it has a decent marketing budget) and is likely to have a sequel.

If the first movie that comes to your mind in The Muppets, then let’s say Great Minds Think Alike. Other likely candidates include John Carter or TRON: Legacy. However neither of those have had sequels greenlit. So Muppets it is. It even already has a tie-in with DHS.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when the online version of Mickey Monitor came with the following bit of text in it:

Opening this summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow has elicited something of a legend of its own. The word around the Parks is that this mysterious new attraction will be a first-of-its-kind sensory experience in which Guests will have the chance to be enveloped by the world of the Pirates of the Caribbean as seen in the four feature films. Sounds intriguing.

To find out more, we had a chance for a friendly “parley” with Jason Roberts, Walt Disney Imagineering Project Manager and Show Producer for the new attraction. “This is going to be an immersive experience,” Jason told us. “We’ll really delve into the story of Captain Jack Sparrow and put our Guests in the middle of it all in new and exciting ways. “Story is always the most important thing for us at Walt Disney Imagineering,” Jason continued.

“But we’re always looking at new ways to tell the story that our Guests have never seen before. In this attraction, we’ll let you walk in the footsteps of Jack Sparrow. “It’s not ‘the making of’, not ‘behind the scenes’…it is really a first person experience.” Jason wouldn’t divulge any of the state-of-the-art special effect trickery used in the attraction, but he did assure us that the attraction is certain to elicit a “Wow! How’d they do that?” from our Guests.

A long-time fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and films, Jason was delighted at his shot to work on the attraction. “We worked with the archives as well as the filmmakers while they were shooting the last movie,” Jason said. “And as a fan, I just loved sitting through those films again and again, going through all the details and leveraging them for this new experience. It’s really been a blast.”

Yep. A Pirates of the Caribbean replacement for Narnia. A chance to delve deeper into the character created by Johnny Depp. A legendary character for all time.

So what do we make of that. First of all Jason Roberts, Walt Disney Imagineering is a real person and an Imagineer. He’s been interviewed before on previous projects. It appears he actually did work on the attraction and it sounds like the exhibit is practically ready to open. Certainly at this point if it was opening in the summer it would be beyond concept art and into fabrication.

Sounds interesting. However, recipients of the printed version of Mickey Monitor did not see that story, instead they have a story about the Art of Animation resort. Disney has even replaced the online version with the version that has the Art of Animation resort story in it.

Also mysterious is that Disney did not announce the new attraction at the What’s New, What’s Next press event held earlier this week. Of course, they also did not announced Fastpass+, which is now testing in the parks, nor the Grand Floridian DVC tower. So take that with a grain of salt.

My best guess is that the budget for the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow has been reapportioned to another attraction supported by Walt Disney Studios. It happens. With the shuffling of deck chairs going on in Burbank right now (Studio Chair Rich Ross having just been forced out), it could also be that everything is on hold. We may never know.

It looks like someone just made a simple mistake and forgot to update a link on the website to the revised Mickey Monitor. It happens.

Update: A permit has been issued to do work in the Sound Stage. So something is coming to Sound Stage 4, it might be captain jack after all. In fact, the Disney Parks blog has now confirmed it, but with a fall arrival.

What do you think happened? Leave your theory in the comments.