Disneyland Celebrates 50 Years of Pirates of the Caribbean – Ride Fun Facts

Yo Ho, Yo Ho – A Pirate’s Life for Me! Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean just turned 50 years old!! Can you believe it?! It’s one of our very favorite rides at Disneyland! So, I was thrilled that we got to go to the park (on my birthday!!) as part of the #PiratesLifeEvent (and Pirates Red Carpet Premiere) to experience the ride and celebrate 50 years of swashbuckling fun!
Before we headed to Disneyland though, we actually got to stop by the Walt Disney Archives to learn more about the ride! Being in the Archives is always an incredible experience – so much rich history, artifacts, and memorabilia. It really is just so crazy to think that “it was all started by a mouse”. 
Most of the Pirates items had already been packed up for a special display for D23. But, one thing that is SO cool to see is old Disneyland maps! I love seeing how things have changed over time! The archivist explained that, as you might imagine, Disneyland in 1955 was not completely built up. It took a few years before the park was bringing in enough revenue that Walt could really start building it up. The first big expansion was Tomorrowland (Matterhorn, Monorail, etc) was built in 1959. But Walt really wanted to do something New Orleans inspired. They eventually settled on New Orleans Square. For something pirate-themed, they first thought about doing a pirates wax museum because there was no animatronics yet. Here’s a look at one of the earlier ideas: Construction on New Orleans square in 1961. Then, in 1964-65,  they were working on some different details for the area and the pirates attraction. They had planned a Blue Bayou Mart and had carved a large basement for this area. Then the idea came up to use boats to get people through. And of course, the rest is history! In addition to being SUCH a great ride (so great that it inspired a whole movie franchise), this one is extra special because it is the last ride that Walt personally oversaw before his untimely death in 1966!

(Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

In this photo, Walt Disney and Marc Davis, a Disney Legend, animator and artist, have some fun developing the Audio-Animatronics figures for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Sadly, never got to ride the ride (it opened in March 1967). But, he did get to do a lot with it. And, Walt even came up with the name “Pirates of the Caribbean”! And, I happen to think he would have LOVED that a whole Disney movie franchise then was inspired by this ride!

So with all that rich history and in celebration of 50 years of swashbuckling fun, I thought it would be fun to give you some facts that Disney has shared about Pirates of the Caribbean!

Pirates of the Caribbean Fun Facts: 

  • 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.”
  • New Orleans Square (the home for Pirates of the Caribbean) cost $15 million to build. 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 building served as the seat of the Spanish colonial government in 1799 and is also noted for being the site where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803. 
  • The canal in the attraction that guests ride through is 1,838-feet long!
  • Approximately 120 animated characters (human characters plus nine different types of animated animals) appear in the Audio-Animatronics cast of Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Guests ride through the attraction for approximately 15 minutes, on one of the longest rides at Disneyland Resort.
  • 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.

  • 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.

Aren’t those SO fun?! There’s a lot of Pirates fun to be had at Disneyland right now in celebration of the 50th anniversary! We saw quite a bit of fun Pirates merchandise, fun pirate drink sippers and even some cute photo opps! Of course, there was also the day quite recently that the real Captain Jack paid the ride a visit! Can you even imagine how fun that would have been?! SO cooL!

So, if you’re heading to Disneyland soon, be sure to check out all the Pirates fun! Also, you’ll want to head over to California Adventure for the Summer of Heroes and the opening of the all-new attraction Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: Breakout! I can confirm that the new ride is AWESOME!

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Go see Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in theaters NOW!!! 

Disclosure: Disney hosted me in LA in order to attend the film screening and to participate in group interviews & media events. As always, all opinions, experiences, and love of Disney are entirely my own! 

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