Today in Disney History: The Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay (2024)

On this day, June 24th, 2006, Disney installed The Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay, their private island!

Who knew pirates would be such a huge part of the Disney parks across the globe and the brand as a whole? Uncle Walt, that’s who!

The innovation and detail alone in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Disneyland Anaheim and Disney World in Florida speak volumes to this.

When Curse of the Black Pearl debuted in 2003 starring Johnny Deep, Disney knew this popular film based on the beloved attraction would go far in the hearts of Pirates fans.

As a result, Imagineers decided to take a piece of Disney pirates history, the infamous Flying Dutchman from the second Pirates film, Dead Man’s Chest, and place it in the middle of the Caribbean on Disney’s own private island, Castaway Cay!

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Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World. Photo by Cliff Wang

Let’s take a look at the evolution of this landmark, which debuted at Castaway Cay on this day 14 years ago!

A Trademark for the Pirates Franchise

If The Flying Dutchman sounds familiar to you long before you saw Dead Man’s Chest, that’s because the ghost ship of the same name is based on the nautical poem by John Boyle O’Reilly sometime between the years 1884-1890.

The poem and the Pirates of the Caribbean films alike both portray the Flying Dutchman as a ghost ship that captures the souls of insubordinate pirates and traps them for eternal damnation.

After reading the poem, it’s easy to see why the creators of Pirates would want to breathe life into such a haunting tale. It truly is a terrifying prospect, to be trapped on a ship with monsters such as Captain Davy Jones, only to be certain you would soon become one of the dreaded creatures.

The gothic feel of this ship and the story behind it gives us all the Disney chills.

The Dutchman’s Short-Lived Home on Castaway Cay

On June 24th, 2006, shortly after the release of Dead Man’s Chest, Disney decided to give us Disney Cruise Line fans the ultimate gifta chance to view the Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay!

Docked right beside your Wonder, Dream, Magic, or Fantasy was the eerie soul-sucking ship we have all come to know and love.

As you approach the outside of the abandoned ship, there is plenty of creepy kooky and wood-rotty loveliness to behold.

Much like the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, the Flying Dutchman may appear to be basic at first glance, but behold the dark gothic symbols resembling rough and tough pirate life as well as crustaceans and algae galore.

Captain Jack Sparrow Meet and Greet!

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Jack Sparrow at Walt Disney World. Photo by Tatjana Lazar

Once you stepped off of your Disney cruise and onto the shore of a very literal paradise, not only was the Flying Dutchman in all of her spooky glory awaiting you but so was everyone’s favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow!

From his amazing one-liners, bad jokes, and even facial expressions, this was definitely one of the most thrilling pirate-themed experiences Castaway Cay had to offer.

The Flying Dutchman in the background of your priceless picture is the cherry on top of the sundae!

In addition, if you take part in the scuba activities, you could (and still can) explore the depth below, featuring hidden treasures the whole family would enjoy.

Where Did She Fly Off to…?

While I know Disney always has a reason for replacing, refurbishing, and even removing certain beloved attractions and landmarks from property, this is one I’m still a little bit salty about (pun intended!).

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The Flying Dutchman with a Disney Cruise Liner. Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

In 2010, just four years after the debut of the Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay, the ghost ship was removed and sailed away to another location on the island where it was dismantled.

Considering this was the original ship used in the Pirates of the Caribbean film, it is appreciated that we even got four good years with her! We’ll never forget her influence on the island and the creepy coolness that was added by her presence.

The longer I am a Disney fan, the more emotionally taxing it becomes for a myriad of reasons. Seeing the changes Disney makes to some of our all-time favorites can be a gut-wrenching feeling and even break our hearts at times.

While these alterations are never easy initially, I am always (or rather, almost always) equally ecstatic with the replacement or adjustment of attractions, shows, and landmarks. In the case of the Flying Dutchman, there hasn’t been a replacement necessarily, but that’s only because there truly can’t be.

The Dutchman isn’t something shiny or fancy that can be replaced with a piece of warm and fuzzy Disney history. While we enjoyed the few years we got with her, she was always meant to sail, to fly the sea and collect the souls of pirates gone astray.

Nothing has replaced the Dutchman simply because nothing can, but the delightful chilling memories of stepping off of a Disney cruise and seeing a towering ghost ship in the middle of the Caribbean will live on in our hearts forever.

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Today in Disney History: The Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay (2024)


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