A Review of the Pirate’s League at Magic Kingdom

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2015-06-24 at 08-53-17My family and I recently returned from a trip to Walt Disney World during which we had the pleasure of celebrating our son’s fourth birthday. During the intense, Disney-encouraged planning stages of the trip we were faced with the dilemma of how to make it special…okay, more special than having a birthday at Disney World, which is already kind of a big deal. Since we are character meal fiends, it wouldn’t be special enough just to add another one (although we did a whopping 7 on a 10-day trip, including two on the big day). What we settled on was the Pirate’s League at the Magic Kingdom, something we’ve seen the results of, but never tried ourselves.

Of course, part of the reason we never went total pirate was because we didn’t know how our son would handle the makeup involved in turning into a full-on scurvy dog. The other reason was because our daughter, who is 6, has been asking about the immensely popular Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for some time now. Luckily, that desire was waylaid by the discovery of the mermaid packages at the Pirate’s League, but I’m getting ahead of myself — let’s walk through the experience.

Pirate’s League Overview

For the unfamiliar, the Pirate’s League is an experience that involves getting made-up to look like a pirate or mermaid. There are two different price levels — this won’t be a shock, but the cost of the Pirate’s League is not included in your park admission — one just for makeup and accessories, and another for that plus a costume. Within those levels there are a few different options as well:

  • Jake (sans his Neverland Pirates): Basically just some fake Jake hair and a few accessories with some light makeup — $29.95 plus tax
  • All other pirates including a Jack Sparrow look (i.e. heavy eyeshadow), a full skull mask, a Captain Hook look (wispy mustache), a pirate with full beard, and the Empress (a shimmery one aimed at girls). These include various levels of makeup and accessories — $34.95 plus tax
  • Mermaid: Nails, makeup, and accessories — $39.95 plus tax.
The interior of the Pirate's League
The interior of the Pirate’s League

Then we get into the “Deluxe” packages (costumes):

  • Jake: same as above with the addition of a Jake and the Neverland Pirates t-shirt — $44.95 plus tax
  • Mermaid: same as above with the addition of a mermaid t-shirt and a tutu — $74.95 plus tax

(Allow me to add some commentary here; after seeing the price difference between the regular and deluxe packages, we bought two cheap costumes online that cost about $30 combined — you’ll see them below — and saved a good chunk of cash.)

A makeup artist's workstation
A makeup artist’s workstation

As with everything at Disney World nowadays, reservations are recommended, encouraged, and practically necessary for the Pirates’s League. Luckily for us, Pirate’s League is not quite as popular as its princessy cousin over at Bibbidi Bobbidi, since we only decided on it about week in advance. Although at first, when we called the reservation number at (407) 939-2739, we were told there were no times available for both kids on our son’s birthday. However, when looking at separating them, the lovely Cast Member on the phone found two times only 5 minutes apart. Since we like math-based calculations here at TouringPlans, I feel obligated to explain that 5 minutes apart is not a big difference.

We also got times in the morning, which we felt was important. Since there was no way we were leaving the makeup on the kids overnight (oh the horror of that pillow in the morning!), we wanted our money’s worth. The reactions of other guests and characters around the park the rest of the day reinforced that decision (see below).

Checking In

We were told to arrive 10-15 minutes before our scheduled time at the check-in desk just to the right of the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. When we arrived, the children were asked to choose their look. My daughter predictably chose the mermaid, while my son chose a pirate look that involved some heavy eye makeup and a full beard. Unfortunately I neither remember the name of his pirate look, nor was I smart enough to take a photo of the sheet they handed us to choose from. I will regrettably hand over my blogger card at the end of this post for failing you.

Getting a Pirate Name

The mysterious book of pirate names
The mysterious book of pirate names

After the check-in and a quick change into costume (in a provided changing room), the kids were initiated. My mermaid daughter was kindly asked to not attack pirates once she transformed into a mermaid and was then asked to sign a mermaid book. My son was asked his middle name and birth month, which was used to assign his pirate name. It turned out to be Francis Shipcutter — not the most fearsome name I’ve heard, but the kid also named his ship the Cow, so…

Anyway, after the initiation you are asked to wait for your name to be called. This brings up one of my only real complaints about the Pirate’s League: it’s lack of waiting space. The small room is bordered by workstations, so the only place to wait is on a handful of boxes smack in the middle of the room. Needless to say, it gets crowded and awkward.

Luckily, the waiting went quickly and the kids were both soon called. Of course, the makeup artists actually call out pirate names, and my unofficial count is that 94% of people forget their pirate names prior to being called, which is both funny and uncomfortable as the Cast Members call out a ridiculous pirate name several times before finally resorting to one’s given name.

The Makeup

2015-06-24 at 09-15-00 2015-06-24 at 09-15-17This was the part we were worried about: An antsy four year old boy sitting still in a chair getting copious amounts of detailed makeup applied. It turns out we had nothing to worry about, mostly due to the skill of the Cast Member (Alyssa, pictured). She knew exactly how to handle the problem, which was giving him no choice. She immediately went for the eye makeup while talking, asking questions, and generally making my son laugh. She had to fix a few spots he rubbed at, but it went much better than expected.

On the other side of the room (which required several trips back and forth across the waiting area, stepping on toes each time), my daughter was a pro. Her Cast Member wasn’t as engaging, but she didn’t need to be either. She was very adept, however, at the intricate scaled makeup look required for the makeup and, in that case, that’s all that mattered. Her hair was also rolled simply and pinned with a plastic flower, which looked prettier than it sounds.

Speaking of accessories, each was given a few items. In addition to the hair flower, my daughter was given a necklace with a flower which, along with the flower in her hair, changed color in the heat. They both started white, but the necklace went blue in the heat, while the hair flower turned a lovely deep purple. Over in pirate land, my son was give a bandana, eyepatch, and pirate booty bag (although it’s Disney, so they don’t use the word “booty”). Both were also given sashes, mostly so everyone could see the words “Pirate’s League” prominently displayed.

Upon completion of the makeup and accessories, both children were given a pledge to recite. The mermaid pledge was once again about not attacking pirates (because pirates are good guys now, apparently) while the pirate one involved something about robbing, plundering, and burning villages…okay, it didn’t, it was about being good and having fun and stuff.

2015-06-24 at 09-20-15 2015-06-24 at 09-25-01Following the pledges, the kids were announced to the room with a hearty round of applause and a YO HO! My son was also serenaded with a round of some generic pirate birthday song, which was nice even if these things just make me laugh about “Happy Birthday” being a copyrighted song.

The Secret Lair of Nophotos

Now that the transformation was complete, my son was given his plastic pirate sword (heaven help us all) and both kids were ushered into what I call the Lair of Nophotos. I refer to it as that because we were reminded several times that this room was so secret that no photos were allowed inside. In an odd and surprising twist, the room contained only one Cast Member…a PhotoPass photographer!

After a staged photo shoot, the kids were each given a trinket: a jewel for the mermaid and, for the pirate, a necklace with the familiar pirate coin from the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl film. He was specifically told that if anyone asked him where he got the coin, he was to reply that he didn’t know. And you know what? He was asked several times during the day.

Needless to say, the photos from the ultra-secret lair were available for purchase, but we declined. Partially because I had taken many photos already and partially because I refuse to be upsold — I’m just that kind of jerk.

The Raction Around the Park

All that day, both kids were getting looks and comments from guests. They were both told how beautiful/handsome/scary they looked many, many times, although the best reaction was from the characters. Without fail, every face character (and many Cast Members) asked about their look, asked the mermaid about her time out of water, and the pirate about his coin (questions which were met with blank stares because he forgot what to say). Even in subsequent days, they continued to get attention for wearing their necklaces. Ariel in particular was excited to meet a fellow mermaid.

2015-06-24 at 09-36-01 2015-06-24 at 09-27-00The Verdict

We wanted to do something special and this certainly was. The Cast Members were excellent, the process smooth, and the results speak for themselves. What really made it unique in my eyes, however, was the attention they both got throughout the day. I have no doubt that they each felt special.

The cost is high, especially after all you pay to get to and get into the park, but we felt it was worth the extra money. Maybe next time mom and dad will even get in on the action (no, not really).2015-06-24 at 09-53-25

Brian McNichols

In addition to blogging, I also do some analyzin' here at Touring Plans. I am a travel nut, planning nut, Disney nut, wall nut. Husband of 1, father of 2. Hilariously funny in my own mind. Find me on Twitter @YesThatBrian if you like really dumb jokes.

10 thoughts on “A Review of the Pirate’s League at Magic Kingdom

  • July 26, 2015 at 7:20 am
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    Try it ! My whole family did it, Mom 56 (mermaid), Dad 56, Friend 25, Sister 25 (mermaid), me 30 and the only kid of our group was 5. It was awesome. Got a nice family picture after that. Kid had plenty of fun looking at us and playing sword with dad. As a women, you can get the pirate witout the beard.

    Reply
    • July 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm
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      I’m sure we’ll consider it, although I would probably want my wife to get the beard for sheer comedy purposes.

      Reply
  • July 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm
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    As an FYI: Guests who purchased the photo package at WDW (the one where you get all the photos online to download), will have these photos included. My sister did BBB with my niece, and thought it was a great bonus for the $149 ($169 now) they spent on photos for the week.

    Reply
    • July 29, 2015 at 2:42 pm
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      Excellent point, can’t believe I forgot to mention that. Thanks!

      Reply
  • July 27, 2015 at 7:45 am
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    My son did the PL last November. Our only complaint was the awkward waiting area, too. At six years old, my son loved it. He got the ‘skull’ makeup, which is rather difficult to was off, but he loved it. It got him a lot of compliments and he was even picked to be in the Pirate Tutorial later in the day (that Cpt. Jack was great!). Our only regret is that we got some great pictures that day, that could have been family portraits if it weren’t for the pirate in them! But that shouldn’t be a deterrent. If compared to BBB, it’s cheap, so we felt we got a good deal. Very well worth it!!!

    Reply
  • July 27, 2015 at 9:03 am
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    We also did this last year when our son turned 4. Our reservation was the first of the morning at 9. If you tell the cast members that you have an appt they will let you get into the park early to be ready for your appt on time. That way there was no waiting and no lines!

    Reply
  • July 27, 2015 at 11:49 pm
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    Excellent story and I think it’s obvious your time with super blogger Derek Burgan is paying off, you had a lot of clever jokes in here! #PTPD

    Reply
    • July 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm
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      How dare you! 😉

      Reply
  • July 28, 2015 at 7:38 pm
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    What time of day do you think is best for this? We have a 10:30 appointment at the end of September. I’m worried about the makeup running off, but I know if I don’t do it early in the day I’ll be faced with “when do I get to be a pirate” 5000 times.

    Reply
    • July 29, 2015 at 2:46 pm
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      I believe that our reservations were for around 10:40, although we ended up getting there at about 10:15 or so. I would definitely recommend doing it in the morning. Yes, the makeup will smudge and run, but it’s Florida so that will happen any time of day. Doing it early allows the children the most opportunity to enjoy the “fame” they will get.

      Reply

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