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)


What happened to the Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay? ›

The Flying Dutchman, the ship prop used for the filming of Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, was on display at Cay Lagoon. As of November 2010, the Flying Dutchman is no longer at Castaway Cay. According to Disney, the Dutchman was removed and taken to another location on the island, where it was being dismantled.

Why did Disney dismantle the Flying Dutchman? ›

It has captured the imaginations of sailors, writers, and storytellers for centuries, and its origins are shrouded in mystery. Disney removed the Flying Dutchman from Castaway Cay, their private island in the Bahamas, due to concerns about the impact it was having on the environment.

What happened to the real Flying Dutchman? ›

According to maritime legend, the Flying Dutchman can never be anchored, and anyone who sees the ship is doomed to sail the seven seas for eternity. Although the Flying Dutchman never existed, the story of the cursed ship became a legendary symbol of calamity for sailors.

What happened to the ship at Castaway Cay? ›

It was a movie prop. Years of sea and wind did a lot of damage to it, because it was never intended to be a permanent fixture. It was dismantled at the end of 2010.

Who was the Flying Dutchman in real life? ›

In real life the Flying Dutchman was a 17th century Dutch merchantman, captained by Captain Hendrick Van Der Decken, a skilled seaman but one of few scruples, and in 1680 was proceeding from Amsterdam to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies.

Was Castaway Cay a drug island? ›

Gorda Cay was first settled in 1783. Gorda's airstrip (now Castaway Cay Airport) was once used as a stop in the 1930s for bootleggers and later, drug runners. Gorda Cay had also been used for filming.

What is the story behind the Flying Dutchman? ›

The Flying Dutchman was a sea captain who once found himself struggling to round the Cape of Good Hope during a ferocious storm. He swore that he would succeed even if he had to sail until Judgment Day. The Devil heard his oath, and took him up on it; the Dutchman was condemned to stay at sea forever.

When was the Flying Dutchman last seen? ›

There have been many sightings over the years, although the last reported one was by a Nazi submarine in WWII. Some sightings involved the Flying Dutchman sailing quickly through calm waters while the majority of sailors have spotted it during extremely stormy weather with wind and waves crashing all around.

Do people live on Disney's private island? ›

There aren't any hotels on the island, and guests are not allowed to stay overnight. Disney employees are another story—a reported 60 cast members (what Disney calls its employees) live on the island. Their homes are in the backstage areas that guests can't see, much less access.

Was Davy Jones real? ›

The character of Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise is a fictional character and not based on a real person. While the franchise drew inspiration from various legends and folklore, the depiction of Davy Jones with a squid or octopus face is purely fictional and not historically accurate.

Did King George V see the Flying Dutchman? ›

1881: Three HMS Bacchante crewmembers, including King George V, saw the ship. The next day, one of the men who saw it fell from the rigging and died. 1879: The SS Pretoria's crew saw the ghost ship. 1911: A whaling ship almost collided with her before she vanished.

Was the Black Pearl a real ship? ›

Armed with thirty-two guns and bearing the appearance of a ghost ship, the Black Pearl, albeit entirely fictional, is now the most famous pirate ship of all time.

What movie was filmed on Castaway Cay? ›

"Splash" (1984), a smart and genuinely funny comedy, was a critical and commercial success that instantly resonated with audiences. The movie was filmed in multiple locations, but the famous scene where Madison (Daryl Hannah) meets Allen (Tom Hanks) was filmed along the beach of what's now known as Castaway Cay.

Is it safe to swim at Castaway Cay? ›

Anywhere in the ocean you can find sharks! But don't worry about this on Castaway Cay, as you swim in a area that is watched by a lifeguard all the time, No problems should happen, just swim and have fun, Enjoy your vacation!

What movies were filmed at the Castaway Cay? ›

"Splash" wasn't the only movie filmed here. Part of "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" was filmed on the island too! Two submarine-ride vehicles from the now-closed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage ride at Walt Disney World lie underwater in the snorkeling area.

Where is the wreck of the Flying Dutchman? ›

The wreck of the ship has never been found, with the exception of an oar and a life preserver, and no bodies were ever recovered. Within a year of her disappearance she acquired a reputation as a ghost ship and became known as "The Flying Dutchman of the Great Lakes".

What happens to the Flying Dutchman at sunset? ›

Before returning to the Dutchman at sunset, he entrusts the Dead Man's Chest containing his beating heart to her care. The Flying Dutchman disappears from the horizon amid the Green Flash. Will returns ten years later, where he meets Elizabeth and their son, Henry.

Where was the Flying Dutchman going? ›

In the most common version, the captain, Vanderdecken, gambles his salvation on a rash pledge to round the Cape of Good Hope during a storm and so is condemned to that course for eternity; it is this rendering which forms the basis of the opera Der fliegende Holländer (1843) by the German composer Richard Wagner.

Why can't the Flying Dutchman port? ›

The tale of the Flying Dutchman has been spread since the 1600s with sightings even to modern times of a glowing ship of eerie light: a legendary ghost ship which is doomed to sail forever and never make port because the captain cursed God after sailing into a tempestuous storm.


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