Pillage and Plunder: Exploring the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

Lisa Fritscher May 19, 2014 No Comments

Pirate Artifacts

The museum houses one of the largest private collections of pirate artifacts in the world.

As a history lover who grew up in Central Florida, I visited St. Augustine, the oldest permanently occupied city in the United States, numerous times. I always enjoyed my trips, but as an adult, I began to see that the historic district was falling into disrepair. For my birthday last year, I made another trip with my best friend, Angela, and my father. After several years’ hiatus, I was happy to find that much-needed repairs and upgrades had been made, and new attractions were open for business. When we heard about a new pirate museum, we knew we had to check it out. As it turns out, the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum was one of the highlights of our entire trip.


About the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is the brainchild and pet project of entrepreneur, TV personality and former Philadelphia 76ers president Pat Croce. With a passion for pirates that began in childhood, Croce gradually amassed one of the largest private collections of pirate artifacts in the world. In 2005, he opened the Pirate Soul Museum in Key West, Florida. After five years, he decided to move his museum to St. Augustine.

Pirate Negotiations

The immersive museum puts you right in the center of the action.

To create a truly immersive and interactive experience, Croce enlisted some of the best the in business to help design his new museum—Disney Imagineers. A portmanteau of imagination and engineering, the Imagineers are responsible for Disney’s highly creative and groundbreaking designs.

The result is part museum, part miniature theme park—a highly successful mix that places guests in the center of the action. As pirate lovers and long-time Disney aficionados, we were giddy with excitement as we approached the museum.


Our Experience

We arrived late Sunday morning to find the museum busy but not terribly crowded. We were greeted warmly by front desk employees in full pirate regalia, and were immediately handed scavenger hunt maps. Throughout the museum, our mission was to find Discovery Drawers marked with a skull and crossbones, and write down what was contained inside. Talk about drawing us into the experience!

Port Royal

The self-guided tour begins in a faithful recreation of pirate hub Port Royal, Jamaica.

The self-guided tour began in a highly realistic replica of Port Royal, the Jamaican town that was the undisputed hub of activity during the Golden Age of Piracy. From there, we moved through the Rogues Gallery, which introduced us to some of history’s most famous pirates, before boarding a highly realistic replica pirate ship. Below deck, we took in the incredibly realistic Imagineer-designed sound show that recreates Blackbeard’s final battle. Beyond the ship, we visited the Execution Dock and Shipwreck Island before ending in a gallery of Hollywood pirates.

We knew that the Disney Imagineers were involved, but we had no idea that they had left a trademark. At one point during our tour, I found a Hidden Mickey! These small replicas of the three-circle Mickey Mouse head are hidden all over the Disney properties, but I never thought I would find one at the museum. See if you can find it for yourself.

We spent a couple of hours at the museum, and easily could have filled half a day. But we had to drive to back to Orlando, and we wanted to stop for cupcakes before leaving town. So we reluctantly said good-bye to the pirates, turned in our completed scavenger hunts for a small prize, and shopped in the small but well-stocked gift shop before heading out.


Tips for Parents

Hidden Mickey

Can you find this Hidden Mickey?

A lot of attractions claim to be fun for the entire family, but not all of them pull it off as well as the Pirate & Treasure Museum does. For the adults, the museum is packed with authentic rare artifacts from captain’s log books to the only known surviving pirate treasure chest in the world. For the kids, the sights and sounds draw them in, sparking their imaginations. Both kids and adults alike enjoy the interactive, “please touch” feel, firing simulated cannons and exploring hidden nooks and crannies.

The museum is located across the street from the fort, and parking is often at a premium. After circling a few times, we ended up parking in the paid lot at the fort and walking to the museum. If you have Old Town Trolley passes, stops 6 and 18 both provide easy access to the museum.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily, making it a great evening choice, as many attractions close early. Children under age 5 are admitted free, while those ages 5-12 pay a reduced fee. Look for coupons at your hotel or at any tourist information center in town, or purchase your tickets at the museum’s official website.

avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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