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Queue/preshow Guest Experience Treatment

 Based on characters by Terry Rosio and Ted Elliot




It’s the day of the journey. We know this before we even get close, hear it in the faint pounding of drums : it’s the day of the sail to the New World. We approach the center of town, a courtyard marked by two enormous carved pillars, heralding the entrance. The carvings are intricate and ancient, depicting the faces of two leering idols. They grin expectantly at us, their faces shimmering in and out of shadow.


They’re like a premonition, or the cover of a treasured book. We pass between them, beneath their golden marquee, into the courtyard.




The low stone wall that greets us is plastered with posters, announcing the journey to the New World. New recruits are welcome. ‘Seeking all able-bodied sailors!’ one says. ‘For riches and glory!’ Cortez is looking for brave souls to join him in finding EL Dorado and we know, unquestionably, that we must join him to find the city of gold. Arrows point the way for us: to the left, around the wall, to join Cortez’s crew immediately, and to the right to hone your sailing skills. We choose the right and head deeper into the city.




The streets of Seville are winding mazes of white stucco and red tile roofs. We peer into the windows of villas, catching glimpses of everyday life in Spain: a washerwoman’s basin, a rough-hewn table set for dinner. The city has a haphazard feel, like it was built in a hurry, by someone who didn’t care much for structural integrity. Old age has skewed its straight lines and edges. Swords are rammed into the ground here and there, glinting in the afternoon sun; strings of hanging laundry flap like tattered flags.


The staccato phrases of an imperial Spanish march seem to emanate from the cobblestones themselves, building an atmosphere of historic importance. We feel slightly lost, though not disconcerted; this only heightens our sense of adventure.


Finally, we reach the end of the snaking streets and approach a pair of wooden doors, massive and formidable. A faded poster tells us that this is where we learn the skills needed for the voyage. A sailor standing guard welcomes us inside.




We proceed under an impressive stone arch and emerge into a covered alleyway, bustling with activity. In contrast to the stately streets outside, the alley is shadowy and rambunctious. We hear the shouting calls of onlookers, the clang of swords, and the gritty melody of a Spanish guitar.


One of Cortez’s sailors is waiting for us just inside. He stands beside the door with a cocky grin and hands us a compass the size of a saucer.


INTERIOR ENTRANCE SAILOR (handing over the compass)

This is so you can find your way onward. We’ll see what we can do about getting you scallywags in sailing shape. The City of Gold is waiting for you!


Several palm trees have worked their way up through the ground, twisting around the stucco walls and draping over the alley. There are rows of amphitheater style benches lining the enclosure and a short ramp leading down into the main hub, sunken several feet into the ground. Archways crisscross over the area, lending it a sheltered, secret feeling.




We gambol down the ramp, into the vibrant ring, and head immediately for the shipyards. It’s a small alcove, scattered with the remnants of Spanish trade: sacks of grain, coils of rope, cannons, and stacks of shipping crates. An old fort stands with some lingering pride, as though recalling its glory days. It beckons us to explore. The mast of a sailing ship juts out of the ground, its crow’s nest a short distance from the ground, offering us the chance to climb up and test our rigging skills. We meander through, climbing and exploring, but the anticipation of joining the crew is building and we move on.




As we continue, we come across a darker alcove, buzzing with mischief and shady dealings. Three clusters of wooden barrels surround three stone plinths; a small group of off-duty sailors and crew member-hopefuls is gathered at each. Each casts their lot into the game of chance. Treasure is piled high on each plinth, glinting gold coins and a smattering of gems. But the highest-prized treasure isn’t on display; it’s being held in secret, for whichever lucky soul can win the game.


The game players focus intensely, their eyes cast down on the barrels and the game they each have there. It involves a series of dice rolls and a good amount of guesswork and luck. Players cast furtive glances at each other from time to time as onlookers cheer and urge them on. After several minutes of anxious excitement, a voice calls out, ‘You’ve won!’ A single player at one of the barrels has won the game and the coveted map to EL Dorado.




Our final stop is a lively, festival-like arena, where a series of games are underway. A crowd is gathered around the arena, some on their feet, calling out and cheering.


The space is sectioned off from the rest of the alley by the sheltering arms of two weathered stone walls, each crisscrossed with multicolored pennants. Red and yellow over one half of the space, blue and black for the other. Similarly, the ground beneath the flags in split in two with a line in the sand.


Two groups of people stand poised in the arena, about fifteen in total. They stand grinning, arms raised combatively, but all in good sport. A voice from out of sight is carried over the din of the crowd, boisterously shouting out instructions: it’s a lesson in swordsmanship. He shouts out commands like, ‘Quick, hook left! Make a downward u-shape with your left arm. Parry right!’ The two groups, facing each other, carry out the commands. The arena is an energetic flurry of wild arm movements and quick sidesteps. After one round is completed, each several minutes long, the instructor will announce a winner and a new group moves in.


In time, we have completed our training as sailors and we move through the alley to the back door, where our adventure awaits.




A sailor opens the formidable wooden door and the noise of the alley melts away. We walk forward, into gloom and shadows, and hear the sloshing of waves against a ship. It is Cortez’s ship, and we are finally boarding. We cross the gangplank intrepidly, plunging into the dank interior of the ship.




We enter a space, both foreboding and compelling. The dim light offered by a few guttering candles and lanterns casts eerie shadows throughout the small room. At first, we hear nothing but the faint creaking of the ship.


The room gives off the impression of simple life at sea; a roughhewn table is strewn with parchment, tarnished dishes, and a brass spyglass. A canvas hammock hangs in one corner above a tattered upholstered chair. Everything in the room has a story; everything was stolen or plundered or won at great cost.


Like a shadow, Cortez enters the room. He is tall and clad in a black breastplate, a flicker of malevolence in his features.


CORTEZ (growling)

Welcome to the crew. I have chosen you all with the painstaking care befitting the most important voyage in our history. As you know, we sail for El Dorado. The journey will be long and hard; I do not expect you all to come back. Prepare yourselves.

I’ve heard rumors of some mythical map among you. I’m here to assure you that no such map exists. The location of the city is unknown. But we will find it, we will root it out. We will seize the gold, as our country expects. And far as a share for the crew- (chuckles coldly)- I wouldn’t count on it. The glory of the crew of Cortez should be enough. Rest now; we’ve got a long voyage ahead of us.


Cortez exits the room, as silently as he appeared.

After a beat, another pirate appears.


PIRATE (conspiratorially)

Listen up, you lot. You really showed your skills back there in the alley. You’ve got what it takes. You’re in. I know you have the map, you won it fair and square. That’s pirate’s law, what’s won is yours. So the crew and I, we’ll…we’ll give you a hand. Head Cortez off, find the City of Gold, if you can. You could be a hero…or a pirate. (chuckling darkly.) Maybe you could be both.

I’ll meet you out on the deck, by the longboats. Be sure to pull the lapbar down securely in place. And mind you be quiet, wouldn’t want to wake Cortez. Now come on, let’s go!

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