ARGH, Mateys! It’s the History of Pirates of the Caribbean

ARGH, Mateys! It's the History of Pirates of the Caribbean

Yo ho, Yo ho, It’s a pirates life for me! I usually have this song stuck in my head after riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride located in Walt Disney World.  Not only is it a cool, slow-moving boat ride, it is also a great place to cool off on a hot day.

However, Walt Disney World isn’t the only park to have the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, in fact, guests can find this ride at almost all of the parks.  The original ride belongs to Disneyland opening on March 18, 1967.  Fun fact, the ride we know and love today was not the original idea behind the attraction, instead, Imagineers had thought the attraction should be a walkthrough wax museum!  The wax museum was to be housed underneath New Orleans Square, but because “It’s A Small World” and “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” became huge hits at the 1964 World’s Fair the wax museum idea was quickly dismissed and Audio-Animatronics were incorporated into the pirate attraction.

The Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was the last attraction Walt Disney oversaw before his death in December of 1966, unfortunately, he never saw the ride come to fruition in its entirety.   However, as the ride was being created, Imagineers rigged a chair to a dolly to pull Disney through the ride at the same speed as a boat in the attraction would so he was able to see the current progress of the ride.

The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Magic Kingdom was next to open in Adventureland on December 15, 1973, before opening in Tokyo Disneyland on April 15, 1983, and then finally Disneyland Paris on April 12, 1992.  However, the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean underwent renovations in 2006 after the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” which now features popular characters such as Captain Jack Sparrow.

As guests board their Pirate ship to take part in their adventures they begin to set sail through the dark before a flash of light right before they encounter a newly added small drop.  What is that flash of light? Well smile big, you might be surprised later on your My Disney Experience app if you purchased the Memory Maker!

As you travel through different scenes you come upon many memorable scenes, one being the battle between the two pirate ships.  Duck! Incoming cannonball! Well not really, this illusion is created by whizzing sounds, cannons that flash with lights, and “explosions” under the water sending the water into the air as if the cannon just missed you!

Another memorable scene is that of the burning building.  Obviously, there are not real flames inside the building.  Instead, this illusion is created by using cloth, fans, and light.  But, fun fact: The fire marshall was concerned that guests traveling on the ride would not be able to distinguish between the fake fire and a real one and asked Imagineers to install an automatic shut off in case of a real fire.

In another scene where women are chasing a pirate with frying pan wasn’t the original scene.  Originally pirates used to chase women in an endless circle in one of the scenes, but the Imagineers later reversed the direction so that the women now chase the pirates.

Of course, we all know the story about the auction scene in the ride.  Disney had made announcements they would be changing this scene in order to eliminate the portrayal of women as property by taking out the redhead being sold.  Disney fans then started a petition, chanting “We wants the redhead!”  The ride quickly reopened featuring the redhead in her new role, a Pirate named Redd who pillaged the town’s Rum supply.  She now has lines in the scene as well!

Fun fact!  The Pirates of the Caribbean ride has over 120 Audio-Animatronics of both animals and humans featured throughout the ride.  In fact, the film characters added to the ride are all voiced by their original actors! Some of the ride’s original Audio-Animatronics are voiced by Paul Frees who is also the “Ghost Host” from the Haunted Mansion!

The audio-animatronics were modeled after actors hired to act out the scenes which the animatronics would be modeled after.  Blaine Gibson, an artist and sculptor with a background in animation, was in charge of developing the characters as he had an understanding of animatronics.  Blaine realized he only had a couple of seconds to communicate what a character is about, by making them slightly exaggerated. It’s that subtle presentation that makes the attraction work.

And work it does!  For more backstories, history and more about the Disney franchise follow along with Disney Addicts here.

Jessica Jones