Blackbeard (c.1680-1718) is a figure from history, folklore and pop-culture who has connections with the Haunted Mansion.
Blackbeard AKA Edward Teach or Edward Thatch was a notorious pirate-captain during the 18th century. His past and given name is shrouded in mystery but he is believed to have been a privateer or soldier during Queen Anne's War (1702–1713) or at-least the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714).
As a pirate he served under the British nationalist pirate-captain Benjamin Hornigold before Hornigold chose to retire from piracy in 1717 and leave his fleet under Edward's care. Edward would take his new crew to the Gulf of Mexico where he became known as, "The Great Devil of the Mexican Gulf" due to his high success rate and how horrifying he supposedly was. He would later return to the Spanish Main and earn the name of Blackbeard due to his habit of keeping his beard tied in braids (possibly with them also having been beaded) and for his having worn lit fuses in his beard and/or hat which kept his head surrounded by black smoke, giving him an inhuman visage.
Much of Blackbeard's life is shrouded in legends and mystery, due to Blackbeard's own apparent eagerness to mythologize himself it is difficult to track where the myth ended and the human began. It is said that he convinced his crew that he was close friends with the Devil and would often meet with Satan himself in his quarters. It is also said that he was a hopeless romantic who married 12 women, 11 of whom were, "Escorts" who left him after he stopped paying and the twelfth of whom was a governor's daughter that he left for dead amongst his crew. It is also said he had a close relationship with his subordinate captain Israel Hands who he entrusted but once accidentally shot in the knee during a game of cards while aiming at a different player. That being said, there are no recordings of Blackbeard having ever personally killed anyone.
Blackbeard would become captain of a ship which he named The Queen Anne's Revenge (a repurposed French slaving ship originally known as La Concorde) which he equipped with 40 guns and the finest medical provisions of the time for his crew, at one point using it to take all of Charleston port hostage. In 1718, Blackbeard took a pardon from the British government and retired from piracy in South Carolina where he was particularly hated by the locals and the state government. He briefly took up river piracy aboard his ship The Adventure (having marooned the Queen Anne's Revenge and its crew to save on costs following their pardon) only for the local government to send their men to kill him.
It is said that Blackbeard had to be shot 5-6 times, stabbed 20 times and decapitated before he fell in battle. Even then his headless body was thrown into the surrounding waters of the ship where it is said to have swam laps around the vessel 3 times before sinking with locals saying his ghost still haunts those very waters. Blackbeard's head was hung from the stern of the ship and apparently was kept as a memorabilia by the governor, rumoured to have been turned into a goblet.
Notable Disney Appearances
- Blackbeard's Ghost (1968): In this film, Blackbeard is revealed to be a ghost haunting a hotel which was made from the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge. He is summoned by the protagonist after Blackbeard was apparently bound in limbo by his 10th wife, the witch Aldetha Teach. Here he is played as being benevolent and simply a goofy drunkard who is eventually freed from his curse and goes out to sail the ocean with the ghost of his crew.
- Once Upon a Time: A depiction of Blackbeard appeared in this ABC TV drama where he was played by Charles Mesure and typically affiliated with Captain Hook. He was shown as a resident of, "The Enchanted Forest", an alternate-realm inhabited by fairy-tale characters (odd considering Blackbeard is a historic figure).
- Kinect Disneyland Adventures: Blackbeard appears as the main-antagonist of the Pirates of the Caribbean themed levels in this video-game. However he is clearly based off of Barbossa from the Pirates of the Caribbean film-series rather than any incarnation of Blackbeard.
- Minecraft: Blackbeard is captain of the Wicked Wench in the Magic Kingdoms DLC of Minecraft: Bedrock Edition. It is likely that this was done to to copyright reasons regarding using the likeness of Geoffrey Rush from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Haunted Mansion Connections
The Haunted Mansion
In the Séance Circle scene, Madame Leota has a spell-book which is open by her table. The spell-book is opened to pages 1312 and 1313 with the words transcribed upon it, "Kree Kruh Vergo Gaba Kalto Kree" as, " "A Spell to Bring to your Eyes and Ears one who is Bound in Limbo". These words are taken from the 1968 Disney film Blackbeard's Ghost where the incantation is used to summon the titular spirit of Blackbeard.
Concept art by Marc Davis shows a characters greatly resembling Blackbeard as a ghost in the Haunted Mansion. Concept art shows him leaping out of a portrait of himself, leaving an outline behind as he indulges in a bottle of rum (likely an effect similar to those of the Duelists). This would have likely made him one of the Mansion's "Famous Ghosts" from all over the world.
Here being identified by his long braided beard (implied by the hatching shading to have been black before he was a ghost), and his having multiple pistols strapped to his chest. Said ghost also dresses very similarly to the Blackbeard design created by Davis for Pirates of the Caribbean, notably with them wearing the same type of pirate hat with the same Jolly Roger embroidered on it. The only notable difference is the inclusion of him wearing an eyepatch but sailors of all varieties from the era were known to do so as a means of adjusting their eyes to darkness during daytime to be better accustomed to work at night.
Pirates of the Caribbean
A character heavily inferred to be Blackbeard appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean from 1967-2006 as the captain of the ride's central pirate ship, The Wicked Wench. He was shown using the ship to lead a raid on the town of Puerto Dorado on the island of Isla Tesoro in-search of cursed treasure. In this attraction he was voiced by Paul Frees. At the end of Disneyland's version of the ride from 1997-2006, two pirates could be seen with a sack of stolen loot which they were trying to smuggle out with a portrait of Blackbeard appearing within it. This portrait was a recycled prop from the film Blackbeard's Ghost and showed Peter Ustinov's portrayal of the dread pirate.
In 2006, Blackbeard was replaced with an audio-animatronic of Hector Barbossa from the Pirates of the Caribbean film-series. The scene with the pirates smuggling a Blackbeard portrait was also removed in this refurbishment. Later in 2011, another refurbishment reincorporated Blackbeard into the ride via his portrayal by Ian McShane from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Here he was shown as a ghost who materialized on a waterfall to give guests warnings, interchanging with Davy Jones. This effect was removed from Disneyland in 2013 and removed from Walt Disney World in 2018.
Boat #43 in the ride at Disneyland is named, "Blackbeard" as a reference to the historic pirate-captain. There is also a boat called Amelie which might be an allusion to Charlotte-Amelie, an island which allegedly held Blackbeard's lair.
Disneyland Paris still features both the Blackbeard waterfall ghost and the original Captain of the Wicked Wench animatronic (though the ship has a changed design, resembling the Queen Anne's Revenge from the Pirates of the Caribbean films). Additionally Blackbeard still appears as a ghost in a waterfall, here in a lift-house in the Blue Lagoon. A removed inclusion was Blackbeard fencing with a swashbuckling citizen of Puerto Dorado who was protecting a maiden from the pirate. In a 2017 refurbishment, this was replaced with a woman pirate in an eyepatch due to issues with the audio-animatronics. In this same refurbishment, the Blue Lagoon restaurant was re-themed to having been a restaurant owned by Jack Sparrow that he won in a duel from Blackbeard's daughter, Angelica Teach.
Blackbeard was planned to make more explicit appearances in the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which would have been a walk-through attraction themed around historic pirates with an interconnected story to the Haunted Mansion. Blackbeard would have been shown alongside pirates such as Jean Lafitte, Anne Bonny and Bartholomew Roberts. It was planned for this attraction that Roberts would later been the owner of the Haunted Mansion under the alias of Captain Gideon Gorelieu.
In the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Blackbeard (played by Ian McShane) is a pirate alive by the 1730s who has magical powers and desperately hunts the Fountain of Youth to try and cheat death. He serves as the main antagonist of the fourth film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides which was loosely based on the 1987 fantasy novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers of which Blackbeard was also the main-antagonist. Blackbeard ultimately dies when he drinks from the wrong goblet of youth and withers away into a skeleton.
In the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Blackbeard shouting, "Strike your colors, you bloomin' cockroaches!" is heard along with other audio from the ride after the ship the Hai Peng falls of the farthest gate waterfall at the literal end of the Earth.
Blackbeard as the captain of the Wicked Wench inspired the character of Captain Hector Barbossa, the main-antagonist of the first film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. In this film, Barbossa quotes Blackbeard from the ride by saying, "Strike your colors, you bloomin' cockroaches!" during the Pearl's battle with the Interceptor. In the fourth film he partly quotes Blackbeard again by telling to the crew of the Queen Anne's Revenge, "Raise yer colors ya bloomin' cockroaches!" after replacing Blackbeard as captain of the vessel.
In the third film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Blackbeard's ride-counterpart served as the inspiration behind Jack Sparrow's father Captain Teague. Teague's appearance in the films is heavily modelled after Blackbeard from the original name and his name of Edward Teague appears to be a portmanteau of Edward Teach, Blackbeard's historic alias.
There is a treasure-chest on Tom Sawyer's Island labelled, "Blackbeard" which implies that some of the captain's treasure made its way to the island.
Seven Seas Lagoon
Teach was the namesake for Blackbeard Island, an artificial island in Walt Disney World's Seven Seas Lagoon which held interactive pirate-themed activities. This area would be abandoned in 1999 due to the lagoon being found to contain the deadly single-celled organism Naegleria fowleri, better known as, "The Brain-Eating Amoeba".
A book kept by tavern-keeper Arabella "Bell" Smith lists Blackbeard and his crew from the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film as customers of her tavern. A mural of Blackbeard is painted on the wall of this tavern as-well.
Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar
In this Disneyland Hotel bar, a cannon can be found in the possession of its proprietor, "Trader Sam". A note from Sam identifies this as having been traded from Blackbeard with Sam having been attracted to Blackbeard's daughter Angelica.
- In the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride and Haunted Mansion ride, Paul Frees voiced Blackbeard and the Ghost Host. In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blackbeard was played by Ian McShane who was planned to play the Ghost Host in the cancelled Guillermo del Toro film version of the Haunted Mansion.
- In a deleted script for Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) the protagonist Milo Thatch would have been revealed to be a descendant of Blackbeard. This film and Milo respectively have since been worked into the Haunted Mansion mythos via Captain Mary Oceaneer of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.