What a crazy night! I decided to take a last-minute, late-night trip to Disneyland to take some photos with my friend Vy. We arrived at the Mickey and Friends structure at about 8 p.m, later than we had planned, with just two hours until park closing. Upon arrival, I received a text from a friend that Johnny Depp was inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, filming footage for upcoming movie promotion. Apparently, Depp had been surprising fans, standing within the scenes, and talking to guests on the boats; all while in character as Captain Jack Sparrow. We instantly headed over to Pirates to after hearing this.
As we arrived at the attraction, we were met with a large crowd, camera crew and lighting equipment on the bridge, as well as an unusually long one-hour wait to board the attraction. The cameras and lighting were pointed toward the entrance to the Dream Suite above the attraction, indicating that Depp may be appearing there soon. A filming notice stood at the queue entrance, as well as multiple cast members announcing that guests may be filmed, and the wait time may fluctuate or even halt altogether. Seeing this hour-long wait, we decided to grab a quick snack from Stage Door Cafe, and get in line as we eat.
The queue, although about as long in length as normal, moved very slowly and stopped for period of time. After slowly progressing for 30 minutes, the line eventually came to a standstill for about another 30 minutes. During this time, the crowd would start to chant “Captain Jack!” and then collectively sigh as various cast members came out of the Dream Suite, but not Johnny. Then, just two minutes before 10PM, the crowd started screaming — and we knew it was him! I dialed in my camera settings, bumped up the ISO (it was darker than it appears here, and I wasn’t going to take any chances with a moment like this), and got ready.
Mr. Depp — still in full character as Sparrow, of course — greeted the crowd and posed for cameras from the center of the balcony, in very Evita fashion. This was great for the crowd directly below him, but for anyone else in sides of the queue (and the hundred-or-so fans waiting by Royal Veranda outside the queue), trees obstructed our view. Finally, he made his way down the sides of the balcony, a little bit on each side, before fully descending to where you see him in these photos: striking a few poses, and pretending to take aim at his unbothered bodyguard.
It all happened so fast, I really couldn’t process what was happening until it was over and I was reviewing my photos, in disbelief that I actually got these shots!
It was also an amazing case of good timing: arriving to the park late, grabbing food, and getting stuck in line at the best possible spot to get close and unobstructed photos of Captain Jack Sparrow, in front of Pirates of the Caribbean ride! Who knows, had we made it to the park earlier or not stopped for food, we would most likely be farther through the queue, inside the building, unable to see what was going on outside. All in all, it was a crazy and fun experience; it felt like a rally, and the camaraderie of the crowd was electric