In a post on the park’s blog, Disney officials explained the changes by noting that Walt Disney himself said he envisioned that his theme parks would always be changing and evolving.
But some Disney fans and theme park experts note that Disney has a history of revamping rides, either to reflect more sensitive contemporary tastes or to inject characters or scenes from new movies that the Burbank, Calif.-based entertainment giant is trying to promote.
“At Disney, their specialty is scrubbing everything to be squeaky clean and palatable,” Rick Rothschild, a ride designer for Disney from 1978 until 2009, told the Los Angeles Times this year.
Among other changes in the past, the mock frontier rifles were removed on Tom Sawyer Island along with the victim of an Indian arrow, who lay sprawled for years in front of a settler’s burning cabin.
This is not the first time the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction has been altered.
The scene of pirates chasing women through a pillaged town was tweaked in 1997. Trays of food were placed in the women’s hands so that it looked like the pirates were lusting after the food instead of the fleeing women.
Characters from the multibillion-dollar movie franchise starring Johnny Depp were added to the ride in 2006. An animatronic Depp, in full Captain Jack Sparrow pirate regalia, later replaced a frightened woman, hiding in a barrel.