Recently my 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter had appointments to go to the Pirates League (behind the big plant at The Pirates of the Caribbean ride). It’s definitely an alternative to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and it averages about $15 cheaper than BBB. In addition, I was actually surprised at how different the experience was for boys versus girls, so Pirates League may be a more fitting alternative for parents who have both boys and girls in the family.
First, you come into the check in station and you children choose the make-up they want. REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR OWN HAIRBRUSH!
For boys, there is a fairly large list of options, which can include skeleton faces, beards, scars, etc. They’ll make your kids (or even you!) into a proper pirate. The boys get to do a little activity and pick their pirate name. No worries, if your child can’t think of a pirate pseudonym, the cast member will help you pick one out.
Next, your little matey will get put into a pirate salon chair and given a make-over, complete with a pirate tattoo on the hand. Usually, I feel like these kinds of things are expensive fluff, but, I have to say that I was quite impressed with the final result. Not only did my son get a really nice beard, but also a handkerchief headband, an earring, and an eye patch (should he need it later during his pillaging). By the time they were having my son take the pirate oath, he didn’t even look like my kid any more!
After the initial pirate christening, the boys go on to phase two of initiation, where they are given a sash with a sword, along with a pouch for gold. The cast members then make the boys swear to use their sword appropriately, and not to sword fight with anyone who doesn’t have their own sword. Then it’s off to the secret room.
For girls, even though they can choose a pirate look, the primary options they have are mermaid or empress. The girls are brought to the same area as the boys, however, instead of a pirate themed activity and name selection, the ladies are asked to sign a mermaid book agreeing not to sink any ships. It’s a cute touch, but not as nice or involving as the pirate route.
Next, a cast member gets the girl in a salon chair and twists the sides of their hair into a cute little style as to keep it out of the make-up. I want to say our cast member was named Martha, and she was fabulous!
Instead of a tattoo, girls get their nails painted, and, instead of earrings and eyepatches, they get a color changing necklace and flower hair clip – the magic tools to keep a mermaid from drying out on land. Then it was all about the make-up process, including “scales” under the eyes.
Finally, the girls are given a teal-ish colored sash that the cast member puts a flower on (if the girls are smaller), and then it’s also off to the secret room for the ladies.
No one warned me about this beforehand, but this is a location where Memory Maker is beneficial. You are not allowed to take pictures in the secret room, but your pirate can solve a little mystery and get a doubloon necklace. The Photo Pass photographer will take pictures, but these pictures do not link to your Magic Band – it’s buy them there and now or never. Had I been aware that I’d be spending $70 on 2 photos, I would have bought the Memory Maker before I left on the trip, but, alas, they played a dirty trick on me here. If you have the Memory Maker, the photos are free.
The photos were in nice, cardboard frames, but, again, there was a big difference between the boy and the girl frame. The pirate frames included an extra activity that folded out of the frame whereas the mermaid frame offered nothing additional for the same price.
Finally, as we were paying, my son was given a very large, very nice certificate that displayed his pirate alias and was signed by Captain Jack Sparrow. Again, my daughter got nothing for this portion, and I’m not sure why there’s no equivalent for the girls.
Online, they also describe a daily parade that the kids can participate in, but no one said a word to us about it. Our appointment was at 3pm, so we either missed the parade, or the person who was supposed to inform us dropped the ball.
Of course, 5 minutes after we walk out of the Pirates League it begin to pour buckets of rain outside. Overall, it was a nice experience, and I think it had a little more flavor, magic, and details than Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but I do wish that the experiences for boys versus girls (or pirates versus mermaids, I suppose) was a little more equal. I don’t mind that it’s different, I actually think that makes the venue more appealing, but I felt like my son got a lot more out of it than my daughter – just looking at the extra little details and the amount of swag they left with. The mermaid make-up was very pretty, but, being $5 more expensive ($40 for the standard mermaid package), if we ever did this again, I think I would encourage my daughter to choose a pirate look and have a richer experience. That would mean she’d pretty much be forced to pick a look with a beard, but I felt a little on the shorted side with the mermaid package.
We usually don’t do extravagant extras like this due to our budget, but my son is getting older and this was probably the last chance I’d have to get him decked out for Halloween (we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that evening). So this became part of his birthday present, and I would definitely recommend the Pirates League to other vacationers looking for an extra dash of magic. BUT, I will say keep an eye on the weather. It’s make-up, not paint, and it will run and smudge and turn into a mess if you’re trapped in a torrential downpour.