This is a guest post from Nowelle Ledebuhr of Studio 1492 Photography. Now, here’s Nowelle…
Our family recently went to Disney World this past fall and my 6-year-old son’s one major request was to do The Pirates League at Magic Kingdom. It was an amazing experience, and I wanted to share lots of fun pictures with you as well as my top tips on how to get the most out of the experience.
The Pirates League is now closed
Disney has quietly closed the Pirates League. No word yet on what (if anything) will replace it.
Tip #1 – Book Early!
I was unfortunately informed by someone when I made our initial hotel reservations that “the Pirates League ALWAYS has openings.”
Not the case, as I found out.
I waited to see how our plans mapped out for the other things on our to-do list (character dinners, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, etc.), and when I called about a month before our trip to make the reservation, it was booked. For our entire trip – booked solid! Welcome to panic mode!
I ended up talking to a Cast Member that suggested I just try calling back every day to see if anything had opened up. Yes, I became that annoying person that would call you every. single. day. Sorry, Disney workers!
However, it was not in vain as 4 days before we were scheduled to arrive, a spot opened up! Score one for mom!
Another quick tip: if you are smarter than I am, and you call to book your little pirate when there are lots of available times, try to choose the earliest time in the day that is available. This is such a fun day for your child that they will want to do it first thing so that they can enjoy it for as many hours as possible.
Tip #2 – Purchase your little pirate’s shirt or costume BEFORE your trip
Buying your child’s shirt/costume beforehand will save you a lot of money and save you from the worry that they might not have the shirt he (or she) wants in their size.
I bought mine from the Disney Store online and then had it wrapped and ready to give my son the morning of our adventure. He didn’t know that we had in fact booked him for The Pirates League, so this was a great surprise!
(Note from Shannon: these DIY pirate invitations would be another fun way to let your child know they were headed there!)
Tip #3 – Plan ahead
If you are going during the fall, and you plan to go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (which I highly recommend you do!) try to book The Pirates League for the same day.
This will save the need to bring a costume with you in your luggage and your pirate will get a bonus use out of the makeup and costume. Why not get the most bang for your buck since you’re going to need a costume for the party anyhow?
Tip #4 – Say ‘Arg!’
Don’t forget to take a before picture of your little pirate right in front of the Pirates of The Caribbean ride. This is really fun, especially if they go for the full face make up so that you can see the difference.
Of course, make sure you take lots of pictures during your appointment…
…as well as an after shot in the same spot.
Please note: inside has really cool, moody lighting. (Read: slightly dark).
If you have a good SLR camera and know it well enough to change your settings, try to shoot without using flash to get the most out of the cool lighting. If not, you’ll still great shots, but it will lose some of the vibe. If you can change the settings on your camera, I recommend shooting in Aperture Priority mode with your camera set at the lowest f-stop that your lens allows.
Tip #5 – The After Party
If you’re anything like me, you aren’t wearing a lot of makeup (or any, in my case) on your Disney World vacation. However, if you’re going to do this it’s very important to remember to bring makeup remover with you, especially if you have kids with sensitive skin. This saved us a ton of time getting the large majority off of his face that evening.
The only issue we ran into was trying to get all of the black eyeliner off without bothering his eyes too much. We did the best we could, and the next day he just looked like he had really great eyelashes thanks to the little bit that was left over!
In all, The Pirates League is an amazing experience for your little one, and very affordable. My son said it was his favorite part of our trip. The rest of that day when he was all done up, we had so many Cast Members come up and say how scary he looked (a big deal for a 6-year-old boy).
One had a light saber fight with him (which my son won)…
…and he was even asked for his autograph by a Cast Member.
Nothing that Disney does is done half way and The Pirates League is equally amazing. I have little doubt that when we make a return trip, my son will be doing The Pirates League again.
Thank you for such great tips and pics, Nowelle! To book The Pirates League, you can call 407-WDW-CREW up to 180 days beforehand or book online on the Disney website. The Pirates League is open between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. (on party days, it’s often open until 6 but those appointments don’t seem to open up until closer to the date).
PhotoPass photographers are present at the end to take pics but not during the appointment.
Children must be at least 3-years-old to attend and adults are welcome as well. Packages begin at $39.95.
Complete package details can be found on the official Disney World website.
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Sunday 2nd of October 2016
Thanks for all the information about the Pirates League. Both my 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter went "under the make up" and loved every minute of it. I would have never known enough about it to book without this helpful information.
As a tip: I did try to find a pirate shirt/costume for my son, but couldn't find any when we were going. I have already seen some at the Halloween shops at Target, etc. If you are going to buy one, I suggest getting it with Halloween goodies.
For the makeup, we didn't have any problems getting it off with warm water and soap for both my son and daughter. The make up didn't irritate either of them and it didn't smudge or drip.
Sunday 18th of September 2016
How long does the appointment take? I need to book fast passes for the day. Our appointment is at 930am for a boy and girl.
Thursday 7th of January 2016
Hi. Does anyone know about how long the pirate parade/jack sparrow show thing lasts? Thanks
Tuesday 24th of November 2015
Shannon, Thanks so much for your website. I am finding it essential to planning our 3rd trip to WDW. I just booked today (and I feel so lucky) an appointment to turn our 4 year old girl and 7 year old boy in to a pirate and a mermaid. I went to the Disney Store link to find them a shirt/costume, but I didn't see anything other than a Jake and the Neverland Pirates costume. Is that what you were referring? I like the shirt in the picture above. Any other tshirt/costume ideas? Thanks for the invitations as well.
Sunday 13th of September 2015
I was wondering how much time to allocate for 2 boys, 5 1/2 and 4 1/2 around Easter for the Pirate League.