The Amazing History of Pirates of the Caribbean
Can you imagine Walt Disney World without Pirates of the Caribbean? I know I certainly could not!
Well, we came very close to never getting to sing along to our favorite pirate song (I know you are singing it right now!).
Pirates of the Caribbean debuted at Disneyland in CA on March 18, 1967 and was the last attraction that had been designed and constructed under the watchful eye of Walt Disney. Sadly, Walt Disney died three months prior to its opening so he never got see his vision completed and how it quickly became a guest favorite.
Despite its huge popularity in Disneyland, when attractions were being developed for Walt Disney World it was thought that the actual Caribbean was too close to Florida for Pirates of the Caribbean to ever be popular so there were no plans to open a version at Walt Disney World.
Thankfully, Pirates of the Caribbean fans thought different! Disney Executives soon got the hint that guests were not happy about not being able to experience their beloved ride in Florida.
A Walt Disney World version was fast tracked and debuted at Walt Disney World a little over two years after the Magic Kingdom opened on December 15, 1973.
Those who have visited both Disneyland and Walt Disney World will notice that there are differences between the two versions. First, the attractions sit in two different “lands”. In California Pirates sits in the heart of New Orleans Square while in Florida it sits at the edge of Adventureland.
For obvious reasons, the second difference is the theming. At Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean is set in the bayou of Louisiana and guests ride past the Blue Bayou restaurant designed to be a backyard party of a classic southern plantation.
Its counterpart in Florida will bring you though a Spanish fort called Castillo Del Moro. Sounds of Cannonballs could be heard from outside the attraction to set the stage for the battle inside.
This feature was removed in 2006 when refurbishments were done to the attraction, along with the removal of the barker parrot which used to tell guests about the adventures awaiting them inside.
Another difference is the length of the ride. In Disneyland, Pirates is 15:30 minutes long with several little drops. At Walt Disney World the ride is a little over 8 minutes and there is only one 14 ft drop that disguises the fact that you are making your way under the Walt Disney World Railroad.
Ever wonder why you go up an incline when exiting the attraction? It is because you begin your adventure on a second level. The magic of Disney is everywhere!
Pirates of the Caribbean at both parks where given a refurbishment following the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Characters including Davey Jones and Jack Sparrow can now be found through the attractions.
Both also had the controversial redhead changed from being in the auction to seemingly in charge of it even carrying a gun. The scene was also changed from having Pirates chasing the women to having the women chasing the Pirates.
Today a version of Pirates of Caribbean can be found at Disney Parks around the world. Each having its own special quality. The newest version at Shanghai Disneyland is the only one to be based off the popular movies using a combination of digital large-screen projections and traditional audio animatronics.
Fun Fact: Disney Legend Alice Davis, wife of fellow Disney Imagineering Legend Marc Davis, was put in charge of designing the costumes for Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. When she asked permission to make a second set in case they were needed, she was denied due to money constraints.
When some of the costumes suffered water damage from a small fire, Disney looked to her to make more costumes and to their surprise she was able to produce fresh costumes immediately. It turned out Alice slipped enough money in her approved budget to make two sets of costumes anyway!
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