“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me…”
What are The Bootstrappers?
A lesser known treasure to be found in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square is the pirate band of singing scalawags, The Bootstrappers.
They spend their days belting out chanteys – anything from traditional sailor songs to the theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction itself – and dreaming of the sea. Or at least of the Rivers of America. Or perhaps just Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.
Half the Bootstrappers’ songs are about drink. Half their songs are about ships and sailors. And half their songs are about women and treasure. What? It’s pirate math.
Honestly, I’m not really sure if they’re an improvisational comedy troupe who sings, or a musical group who does improv comedy. But either way, I think they’re brilliant.
However, fair warning, me hearties! While the Dapper Dans may occasionally select an audience member or two to tease with a song, the Bootstrappers are rascally pirates who love to badger their audiences at all times – but only in a well-intentioned way. Whether it’s by picking a pocket of an unnoticing bystander (all booty is always returned to its owner) or some very in-your-face singing and joking around, the Bootstrappers show is not for the shy spectator unless you stand well back in the crowd! Everyone is expected to participate in singing, clapping and the occasional other bits of choreography required. It makes for a rollicking good time, but not for the easily discomfited. In this sense, it’s more of a comedy show than just a musical performance.
The Bootstrappers’ mischief-making is at the same level as the Pirates of the Caribbean movie buccaneers – or the attraction itself for that matter. But the pirates have fun engaging with adults and children alike. Some of the humor is over the kids’ heads and aimed more at the grown-ups, but the young ones can enjoy the silliness of it all too.
Who are the performers?
There are more than a dozen different regular Bootstrappers in this pirate crew along with several substitute recruits who may pay a visit when the winds blow favorably in that direction. But they tend to appear in varying groups of five and play all manner of musical instruments from upright bass to guitar to fiddle to flute to accordion.
When and where can I find them?
You can find the Bootstrappers playing in and around New Orleans Square, often in front of the shops, or on the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island. They sometimes stop on the Island to make merry there as well!
For quite some time the Bootstrappers played sets Monday through Friday, but about a year or so ago were reduced to Monday through Thursday only. This is a crime against piracy! Justice must be done and Bootstrapper Fridays must return! Not having that semi-weekend day makes it much more difficult for all of their fans to get to see them and all of the visiting crowds to appreciate them.
Just make sure you check your daily Entertainment Times Guide to see when the Bootstrappers are performing as their schedule, like everything Disney does, is subject to change.
Why spotlight them?
I love the music they play.
I love the performers.
I love the additional atmosphere and life they add to the piratey side of New Orleans Square near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. They tie in the Rivers of America and Tom Sawyer Island area of the park as well, so they’re just perfectly situated Mousertainment.
They’re like a taste of the Renaissance Faire in the middle of Disneyland (as is the Royal Theatre at Fantasy Faire, another terrific show to be spotlighted here next week!). They’re one of my favorite performing groups in the park – I can and have spent all day watching them (as I have done with the Dapper Dans too). Their antics just tickle my funnybone.
If the Bootstrappers don’t steal your gold, they just might steal your heart away!
Have you seen the Bootstrappers perform? What’s your favorite sea chantey they sing?
Update 7/3/15: Sorry I didn’t post this earlier! As of last month, The Bootstrappers are back to Friday performances too – wonderful news! I just hope this lasts longer than the summer months – this group is so unique and fun they deserve to be seen more often!
Update 2/23/16: Last week, The Bootstrappers celebrated a very special milestone – they performed their 15,000th set! And I was lucky enough to be there to see it!
I also noticed they have some new locations they’re playing at while the Rivers of America are closed – so if you don’t see them in the immediate vicinity of New Orleans Square, check down by the riverside near the Haunted Mansion and the Harbour Galley!
Update 9/13/16: I’ve uploaded several Bootstrappers videos – Check out some of this band’s performances here on the Mousertainment YouTube Channel