Disneyland on March 18, 1967.Happy birthday to Pirates of the Caribbean. The Disney Parks IP premiered 56 years ago today, when the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride opened at
Pirates was the final theme park attraction that Walt Disney himself oversaw through to construction, as it opened just three months after his death in December 1966. Today, Pirates has grown into a multi-billion-dollar, multimedia franchise, with five movies that have grossed more than $3.7 billion as well as rides in five Disney theme parks around the world.
But it all started in 1967 at New Orleans Square in Disneyland.
Ever since it opened, Pirates has provided the model for what a great theme park should be. Its ride system is accessible yet novel and interesting with that drop (designed to get the boats under Disneyland's railroad tracks on their way to the larger show building outside the park's berm). The Audio Animatronics and elaborate show scenes hold riders' visual interest with their depth and detail, without the need for 3D glasses. And it offers a theme song from George Bruns and X Atencio that endures as one of the great theme park earworms.
Yet Pirates' subject matter has proved troublesome, as later generations have looked beyond the caricatures to consider the history of the real pirates that inspired such tales. To its credit, Disney has not dismissed those criticisms, but rather considered them and used them as inspiration to make changes that have helped Pirates of the Caribbean endure for multiple generations.
I never worked at Disneyland, but I did work at the Walt Disney World installation of Pirates for a few years. And the ride provided the scene for some of my favorite cast member stories:
If you have a favorite story or some thoughts about Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, please share them with us in the comments.
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Update: Because, why not? Here is the on-ride POV for Pirates at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom - my old home.
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