Millions of guests have embarked on this swashbuckling adventure at Disney Parks worldwide. It has inspired a highly popular film franchise, and the lyrics to its theme song–“Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)”– are recognized around the world. It’s Pirates of the Caribbean, of course, an attraction that celebrates its 50th anniversary on March 18, 2017. Since its debut at Disneyland Park in California in 1967, Walt Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean adventure has thrilled hundreds of millions of guests from around the world. An immersive and engaging entertainment experience, it’s steeped in detail and rollicking pirate fun. It debuted as a technological marvel and storytelling masterpiece and, for decades, this award-winning attraction has been considered one of the pinnacles of theme park experiences worldwide.
Today, guests enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at five Disney theme parks around the world: Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort; Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort; Tokyo Disneyland Park at Tokyo Disney Resort; Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris; and Shanghai Disneyland at Shanghai Disney Resort.
Here are some of the fun facts, trivia and milestones associated with one of Walt Disney’s greatest entertainment achievements.
FUN FACTS ABOUT PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN ATTRACTION
- Pirates of the Caribbean was the last Disneyland attraction personally supervised by Walt Disney. It was designed by WED Enterprises (now called Walt Disney Imagineering).
- The attraction originally was envisioned as a New Orleans-themed Blue Bayou Mart featuring a Pirate Wax Museum, housed in a 70-foot deep basement. The basement now serves as the grotto section of the attraction.
- Pirates of the Caribbean was loosely inspired by such Hollywood films as “Captain Blood,” “The Sea Hawk” and “The Buccaneer,” plus Disney’s “Treasure Island,” “Kidnapped” and “Swiss Family Robinson.”
- It cost $15 million to build New Orleans Square, the home for Pirates of the Caribbean. This is equal to the amount the United States paid for the real New Orleans in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
- The attraction façade was partly inspired by the Cabildo building in Jackson Square in New Orleans that served as the seat of the Spanish colonial government in 1799. It is also noted for being the site where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803.
- Guests ride through the attraction in a 1,838-foot canal.
- Approximately 120 animated characters (human characters plus nine different types of animated animals) appear in the Audio-Animatronics cast of Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Several original designers and Imagineers for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction have since become Disney Legends, an honorary title bestowed on individuals by The Walt Disney Company.
- Disney Imagineer X Atencio, who wrote the attraction’s memorable tune, “Yo-Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me),” is the voice of the Jolly Roger skull and crossbones, seen just before guests plunge down the waterfalls.
- In the lyrics of the song, “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me),” the phrase “Yo Ho” is uttered 18 times.
- Guests ride through the attraction for approximately 15 minutes, on one of the longest rides at Disneyland Resort.
- Approximately 400 million guests have ridden Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Park since its opening in 1967.
- In 1997, Pirates of the Caribbean won the Thea Classic Award from the Themed Entertainment Association. The Thea Classic Award is given to an outstanding “compelling place and experience” which has been in operation for a minimum of 20 years.
- The Blue Bayou restaurant in New Orleans Square allows diners to observe passing boats traveling through a bayou, which is the first scene of the attraction. This table service restaurant continues to be the only dining establishment that looks into a dark ride attraction at Disneyland Resort.
- The concept of Pirates of the Caribbean has come full circle with the attraction initially inspiring the successful film franchise and then the films (starting with the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” in 2003) inspiring exciting additions to the attraction.
- Both Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa from the blockbuster films appear in the attraction and the ghostly image of Davy Jones appears on a waterfall.
- Guests can spot Captain Jack Sparrow at three different points during their journey.
- Approximately 400,000 pieces of gold coins and set pieces were added to the attraction during a lengthy refurbishment in 2006 when some of the film characters were added to the story.
- The Aztec pirate chest used in the film “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” appears in the Treasure Room as the last thing guests see in that scene.
January 3, 1965 – Walt Disney talks about models for the forthcoming Pirates of the Caribbean attraction on an episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” called “Disneyland 10th Anniversary.”
March 18, 1967 – Pirates of the Caribbean attraction has a soft opening for guests of Disneyland.
April 19, 1967 – Official Grand Opening ceremony of Pirates of the Caribbean attraction takes place at Disneyland.
December 15, 1973 – Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opens at Magic Kingdom Park, Florida.
April 15, 1983 – Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opens at Tokyo Disneyland Park.
April 12, 1992 – Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opens at Disneyland Paris.
June 28, 2003 – Disneyland hosts the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” the first in a series of highly popular films inspired by the attraction.
July 9, 2003 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” opens in theaters.
June 24, 2006 – Disneyland hosts the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” Additionally, Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland Park re-opens after a lengthy refurbishment in which characters from the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” films were added into the attraction.
July 7, 2006 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” opens in theaters. Also, “Pirates of the Caribbean” film characters added to the Magic Kingdom Park attraction.
May 19, 2007 – Disneyland hosts the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” the third film in the series.
May 25, 2007 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” opens in theaters. Additionally, Disneyland’s Tom Sawyer Island re-opened as Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island with the addition of themed elements related to the film franchise.
May 7, 2011 – Disneyland hosts the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth film in the series.
May 20, 2011 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” opens in theaters.
June 16, 2016 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure attraction and Treasure Cove themed land open at Shanghai Disney Resort.
May 26, 2017 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the fifth film in the series, opens in theaters.
In addition to four Pirates of the Caribbean films, with the fifth – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” releasing in May 2017 – the legacy of Pirates of the Caribbean continues to expand across the globe.
Characters from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise continue to be celebrated throughout Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – in Entertainment shows, interactive experiences, character greetings, themed hotel rooms, and activities and events aboard Disney Cruise Line ships.
In 2016, Treasure Cove opened at Shanghai Disney Resort, marking the first land at any Disney theme park inspired by the adventure and swashbuckling fun of pirates. The anchor of that land is the latest iteration of the classic attraction, known there by the name Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. It has won industry awards including Outstanding Achievement – Attraction from the Themed Entertainment Association and a Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project. Additionally, an original story about Captain Jack Sparrow opened as “Eye of the Storm – Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular,” also in Treasure Cove.
After a lengthy refurbishment, Pirates of the Caribbean attraction will re-open at Disneyland Paris in summer 2017 with the inclusion of Captain Jack Sparrow from the film franchise.