The time(s) Disney changed the lyrics to the Pirates of the Carribean theme song

Updates:

  • Added Google screen shot for ”stand up me hearties yo ho” version.
  • Added YouTube video of that version.
  • Updated title. Will there be more versions found?

ADVISORY: This article uses the ”r“ word, mostly so search engines can find it in case anyone else stumbles upon this topic.

While researching something completely unrelated, I ended up exploring some old internet newsgroup messages. (You see, kids, before there was a World Wide Web, Disney fans used text and things called ”news groups” to communicate with each other.)

I stumbled across a 1997 posting about the breaking news that Disneyland was going to be changing Pirates of the Caribbean. This was followed by a comment wondering if they were going to remove the word ”rape” from the Yo Ho theme song, too. As a kid who visited Disneyland and Magic Kingdom in the 1970s, I also grew up thinking there was a line in that song that used that word. As an adult, I had assumed Disney must have edited out that inappropriate verse.

It wasn’t until years later when fans had access to full source audio and scans of he original sheet music that we could confirm that there never was such a line in the original song. All such memories were false. Seeing others, back in the mid-1990s, make references to it let me know that at least I wasn’t alone in mishearing a song lyric.

But I digress.

In that discussion, someone pointed out that this word never appeared in the theme song, but that Disney had removed ”drink up me hearties, yo ho!” from a CD release of the theme song.

Some quick research led me to the album: Music From the Parks, 1996. I had this album on cassette. It contained remakes of Disney theme park songs done by other artists. Read more about it here:

https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Disney%27s_Music_from_the_Park

The track listing as as follows:

  • “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” – Patti Austin
  • “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” – The Pointer Sisters
  • “It’s a Small World/When You Wish Upon a Star Medley” – Etta James
  • “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” –  Tim Curry
  • “Grim Grinning Ghosts” – Barenaked Ladies
  • “Hakuna Matata Medley” – The Rembrandts
  • “Circle of Life/Can You Feel the Love Tonight Medley” – Richard Page
  • “SpectroMagic Medley (Instrumental)” – David Benoit
  • “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” – Linda Ronstadt
  • “Part of Your World” – Olivia Newton-John
  • “Mickey Mouse March/Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Medley (Instrumental)” – The Disney Big Band
  • “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Take 6
  • “Remember the Magic (Theme Song) – Brian McKnight
  • “IllumiNations 25” – The Disney Big Band

…and while researching this, I learned there was a bonus track on the CD I never heard. I only had it on cassette. (And still do, somewhere.)

I bought this album specifically because it had remakes of the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean theme songs. About the only other thing on the album that stands out in my mind to this day is the Davy Crocket song sung in Rocky Horror Picture Show style by Tim Curry. It’s quite the hoot! (“Davy …. David, Crocket… King of the …*wild* frontier…”)

I found The Pointer Sister’s version of Yo Ho on YouTube, and sure enough, the song had been re-arranged and omitted ”Drink up me hearties, yo ho”:

Since this was around the same time decisions were being made to alter the ride, it does make me wonder if the changes in these lyrics were done for a similar reason — or maybe they just decided to change the song for artistic reasons, leaving out the one line all of us know even if we cannot remember the versus. (Typing that out now, that would seem to be a very odd decision, if so.)

The original:

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

The Pointer Sisters version:

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
Yo ho, yo YO, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.

The same pattern follows through the rest of the song.

If I ever noticed this at the time, I forgot that I noticed. But I think that I didn’t. At that time, we did not have access to full versions of these soundtracks. I remember being quite happy at discovering one could pull of some audio files from the Walt Disney World Explorer CD-ROM and get some instrumental background snippets that had never been released publicly before.

So, while the R word never appeared in the original song, a Disney remake of the song did alter the lyrics to remove lines about drinking.

The more you know…

Stand up me hearties, yo ho?

And further proving you can’t really trust what a search engine chooses for you as the best possible answer, look at what Google brings up for the lyrics:

Stand up me hearties, yo ho?

There must be some Disney Kids album that has a censored version of the song on it… I guess.

Update: Jonas Brothers, Disney Mania 4. https://youtu.be/ywUujyCsNZE

New Orleans Square in 1996.

I’ve already touched on Disneyland’s New Orleans Square a bit when I discussed entertainment offerings in 1996, but let’s look a bit closer at some other things in the area.

Club 33 door on May 20, 1996.

Learning about Club 33 on the early Internet (long, long before Facebook, in the early stone ages of dial-up and text-based newsgroups) felt like being let in on a big secret. So of course I took a picture of the door!

As Club 33 became less of a secret, you’d see more and more people doing the same, or posing by it. I still kick myself for not going in when I had a chance. And kicking myself again for turning down the second and third chance, too. I think I was just too focused on rides back then.

And before the Year of a Million Dreams turned it into an apartment, upstairs above Pirates of the Caribbean was the Disney Gallery where you could see great things like this K7 spaceman outfit from the early years of Disneyland:

K-7 spaceman outfit on August 16, 1996.

And, if you knew the right people (sigh, like those who invited you to Club 33 and you turned them down), they might even show you some other secrets, like this “hidden” cast member elevator:

Behind some doors are … elevators. 1996.
The “hidden elevator” in 1996.

I also got to visit a cast member store (which I think was located in a trailer backstage somewhere). I bought a strange black ball with Mickey ears on it that you could stick on a car antenna. Who would have known that, in a few years, those antenna balls would be a massive craze with hundreds of styles! (The one I bought was before this, and doesn’t even say “Disneyland” on it — just a discreet black ball with mouse ears. I’m not even sure if it had (C)Disney anywhere. I wonder if I still have it.)

But I digress…

Path to the hidden pet cemetery on May 21, 1996.

I’ll share a few more. Somehow I learned about a “hidden pet cemetery,” and a cast member gave me a little tour. Today, it’s well documented (it was the original cemetery, and then a clone was made and moved out front when they expanded the Haunted Mansion queue), but back then, it seemed really special to get to see it. Funny how giving everyone a digital camera (on their phone) at all times makes having photos of things far less rare.

Barrel pirate in 1996.

And over at Pirate’s of the Caribbean, I snapped a photo of one of the pirates unique to the Disneyland version. I believe he sat at the left of the “waterfall” up ramp at the end of the ride, just before where Jack Sparrow is today.

He disappeared a few years later during an update, and has been gone ever since. I think. I really need to check my later photos. I could be completely wrong (and I’m sure you’ll let me know if I am).

There was also some kind of big deal about turnstiles being moved to the exit of Pirates.  I don’t recall why, but I took a photo:

Exit turnstiles at Pirates on August 12, 1996.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, back then this pirate was still looking for the woman that the clothing he was holding belonged to 😉

“I be willing to share, I be!” he would say, as an (apparently) nude woman popped up slightly out of the barrel behind him.

Ah, fun times.

I guess that’s all for now. In writing this article, I did learn that the problem with strollers isn’t really a new one. It just seems today there are more of them, and more people bring their own, and they are larger. But even in 1996, I thought the mess of “parked” strollers was awful enough that I wasted one of my dozen or so photos on it.

Actually, maybe “parked” is too strong a word for that photo. How about “left in a clump, seemingly at random” instead?

Until next time…

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