Ahoy, mateys! Ready to go on a pirate adventure? As part of our new " Secret History of Disney Rides" series, we're uncovering the history and fun facts of favorite Disney rides. Not only is Pirates of the Caribbean one of my favorite Disney movies, but it's also a fantastic ride. Do you know which came first — the movies or the ride? We'll discuss this and more in the secret history of Pirates of the Caribbean!
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The Secret History of Pirates of the Caribbean
This classic Disney ride first opened at Disneyland on March 18, 1967. It's known as a boat ride, but when the idea first came about (sometime in the 1950s), the attraction was going to be a walkthrough wax museum! The wax museum was to be housed underneath New Orleans Square. Via MentalFloss.com, It's A Small World and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln were such huge hits at the 1964 World's Fair that the wax museum idea was dismissed and Audio-Animatronics were incorporated into the pirate attraction.
Pirates of the Caribbean was the last ride Walt Disney himself actually oversaw and worked on before his death in December of 1966. In fact, imagineers rigged a chair up to a dolly and pushed Walt through the attraction at the same speed a boat would travel through the attraction! Unfortunately, his death came three months before the boat ride was finished, so he never saw the final product.
Some of the talented and creative Imagineers working on Pirates of the Caribbean included Marc Davis, Francis Xavier Atencio (known as "X"), Claude Coats, Yale Gracey, Blaine Gibson and more. You might remember a few of those names from our other "Secret History of Disney Rides" posts! TheFW.com reports that X, who wrote the lyrics for "Grim Grinning Ghosts" of Haunted Mansion, also wrote the lyrics of the memorable "Yo Ho (A Pirates' Life for Me)"! That's one song I don't mind getting stuck in my head for hours after the ride.
Today, you can visit almost any Disney park in the world and find a Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride! Magic Kingdom's pirates attraction in Adventureland opened on December 15, 1973, and Tokyo Disneyland opened its own on April 15, 1983. Disneyland Paris decided to open the doors to its own Pirates of the Caribbean on April 12, 1992. Fans love the mix of adventure and fantasy the attraction offers; now you can revisit the story through the films inspired by the attraction! The ride has even been revamped to include many of the films' characters, including Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa. We've uncovered the secret history of Pirates of the Caribbean, so now it's time to teach you some pirate facts.
Pirates of the Caribbean Fun Facts
- During the ride's battle scene between the pirate ship and town's fortress, you'll hear cannon balls whizzing over your head and dropping in the water. Using real cannon balls is obviously pretty dangerous, so TheFW.com reports that the illusion is created by moving cannons, flashes of light, and blast from beneath the waves!
- Another memorable scene from the ride is the town in flames! This effect is actually just created by a bunch of different cloths, fans and lights.
- The Anaheim Fire Chief feared people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the fake flame illusion and a real fire, so he asked Disney to install an automatic shutoff in case of an actual fire!
- There are over 120 Audio-Animatronics on Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This is a mixture of both human and animal animatronics.
- There's a crazy and creepy rumor that some of the human bones used on the ride are real! This has never been actually confirmed, though.
- Both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean went through renovations in 2006 after the release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
- In 2012, mermaids were added to the grotto scene at Pirates of the Caribbean in Magic Kingdom. You can easily see the mermaid skeleton on shore, but it's harder to catch the one swimming port side in the water!
- 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; you might recognize him as being the "Ghost Host" from the Haunted Mansion!
Well, I hope you learned a thing or two during this secret history of Pirates of the Caribbean post! Hop here for Pirates of the Caribbean wait times, ride details and more! Let us know your favorite fact about the ride in the comments below. Don't forget to check out our other secret histories: Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.