The History of & Changes to Pirates of the Caribbean | Disneyland


Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” is
one of the park’s oldest and most popular attractions. The ride follows the
story of a marauding band of pirates ransacking a Caribbean town. Doing
everything from drinking rum, to buying women, to shooting off their guns and
setting things on fire. You know, all the typical fun stuff. The ride has become
extremely iconic since its opening, so much so that it later spawned a series
of films based on it. But the story behind the ride starts off with
something different. In fact, when the concept was first introduced, it wasn’t
even a ride at all. By the late 1950’s, Walt Disney was looking to expand
Disneyland with a new section of the park called the “New Orleans Square” that
was based off 19th century Louisiana. Disney and the Imagineers then began to
work on some kind of walkthrough attraction to open alongside the new
expansion, allowing it to offer more than just it’s shops and restaurants. Eventually
coming up with a pirate-themed walkthrough. Since pirates were actually
a pretty big part of the real New Orleans’ history. The original
attraction was intended to be an underground Wax Museum located under the
square itself, with a replication of a waterside town and various wax figures
depicting important moments in pirate mythology. The plans for this concept
actually did get finalized and construction on what would be the
underground wax museum did start in 1961 when a large basement was dug out in the
middle of the new land. However, Disney’s Imagineering Department
shifted it’s focus not too long after that began working on a few
projects for the 1964 World’s Fair, where they’d be creating attractions for a
couple different companies and organizations. Disney’s involvement in
the fair pretty much halted all progress on the development of Disneyland
so, the walkthrough pirate exhibit was shelved until their work for the fair was
over. While they were working on the fair the Imagineers managed to create and
expand upon loads of new technologies. The most noteworthy one being the
audio-animatronic, as most of you know it was the development of animatronics that
really gave way to a new era of Disney attractions. Ones that had a much better
sense of storytelling, and did so by having much more immersive scenes. When
Disney was finally finished with the fair and work resumed on Disneyland’s
upcoming expansion, Walt decided not to finish construction on the walkthrough
pirate attraction and instead, opted to use that same concept and theming as a
way to introduce two of the biggest and newest technologies from the fair into
the park. Those two being the boat ride-system from “it’s a
small world”, and audio-animatronic technology from the “Great Moments with
Mr. Lincoln” show so, with that idea in place, work officially began on the Pirates
of the Caribbean ride that we all know today. Some of the earliest elements of
the final ride came from the original walkthrough attraction concept, like the
waterside town setting and of course the pirates but, some of the other parts the
ride did take a little bit of time to get established or decided upon. Much
like the Haunted Mansion, most of the ideas for the ride scenes can be traced
back to Imagineer Marc Davis’ drawings. His concept art really helped
set the overall tone for the attraction and helped everyone working on it get an
idea of how it should turn out in its final form. As a matter of fact, many of
these scenes from the finished ride were actually taken directly from his
drawings. Over the next couple of months, Davis and the other Imagineers came up
with different scene ideas that were then turned into drawings and then
either approved or turned down by Walt Disney, who was pretty heavily involved
throughout the entirety of the project. Imagineers also utilized storyboards to
plan out what order the scenes would go in, similar to the same process they used
for making movies. As the rides development went on and the ideas they
had began to grow bigger and bigger they eventually realized there wasn’t
anywhere near enough space in the park for the ride. Even if they did put some
of it underneath the square itself, so the solution they came up with was have
a large portion of the rides show building located outside of the park. You
might also remember that another Disney attraction did the same thing a few
years later, that being the Haunted Mansion. Not too long after that, work began on
some of the actual figures that were going to be used on the ride. The
animatronic technology was being tweaked and optimized, the pirates themselves
began to be built and their faces sculpted, including some of the
animatronics animals and all the characters were given their own custom
clothing. By 1965 all the planning for what they dubbed the “Blue Bayou Lagoon”
attraction had just about wrapped up, with all the bright scenes laid out and
models of them created. Walt Disney: “And then in here, we have a special attraction. We call it the “Blue Bayou Lagoon” and people are gonna get on a boat here and
ride through the lagoon, and then as they get around here we’re gonna take them
down a waterfall, and take them back into the past into the days of the Pirates, you
know, where the whole Caribbean area was full of pirates and they’re always
sacking towns and things.” Shortly after that, construction began on the
attraction itself. Starting with its facade, then its show building, followed
by the track and then finally the rides scenes. However, since this was the first
time Imagineering had ever made a large-scale animatronic heavy, dark ride
like this construction took quite a while, as they were constantly tweaking
the elements of the attraction to help with things like the props and sets, the
overall pacing, and character dialogue. They also made a last-minute change in
the rides name from the original “Blue Bayou Lagoon” to the now-famous “Pirates
of the Caribbean” but, after all that was finished the attraction was finally
ready to be opened. Announcer: “Now there’s new fun and excitement waiting for you at Disneyland!” The opening of the Magic Kingdom’s most exciting new attraction: “Pirates of the Caribbean!” Pirates singing: “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me!” Pirates of the Caribbean was officially
opened on March 18th of 1967. When the attraction was first opened, the crowds
for it were quite large, and only managed to get bigger as word got out just how
impressive the ride actually was. Something to keep in mind is that audio-animatronics were a brand-new thing at the time. And even though they were
present at the World’s Fair about three years earlier, this was the first time
most people were able to see them in person. The ride continued to impress its
guests for decades after its opening, still being one of the most popular
attractions at Disneyland today, more than 50 years later. However, the rides
popularity still couldn’t save it from seeing quite a few changes over the
years so, let’s talk about what revisions the ride has seen. For many years,
pirates operated almost exactly as it did on opening day. Prior to late 90’s, the
ride itself really didn’t see any noteworthy changes aside from a few
technological improvements, or some slight visual changes when it came to a
couple of the characters. The first actually noticeable change came in the
form of a new queue in 1987, one of the biggest problems with the original queue
was that it not only filled up way too quickly because of its small size, but
also that its overflow went out into the square itself and what often caused
massive traffic jams in the area. The new queue extended the original line, and added
a bridge on top of it that allowed people were to pass over that part of the
square without having to go around the people waiting in line. The next change
came about a decade later in 1997 when Disney changed some of the rides actual
scenes. Due to increasing complaints from certain guests there were a few changes
made to the “chase scene” where pirates could originally be seen chasing around
the women of the town. This was later changed and now show the Pirates chasing
women holding various different foods now putting the Pirates focus on the
food rather than the women themselves along with that, one of the Pirates in
that scene was also recast and given some new dialogue to match the whole
“pirates chasing food” aspect of it. Initially dubbed the “pooped pirate” his
story was that he was tired from chasing around one of the ladies who was now
hiding in a barrel behind him. He was then turned into the “gluttonous pirate”
in ’97 who was now a lot more focused on getting something to eat. The woman in
the barrel behind him was also removed replaced by a cat. Aside from that
relatively small change, the ride remained mostly untouched.
That was until 2006 when the attraction was slated to get a major overhaul. In 2003, Disney released “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. A movie loosely based on the original ride but with plenty of new settings and
characters. Much like the attraction, the movie was wildly successful and
subsequently spawned multiple sequels over the next couple of years. With the
success of the first Pirates film, Disney was now looking for a way they could tie
the movie in with the ride, which they eventually did by adding a few of the
characters from the film. That included people like Captain Jack Sparrow, Barbosa
and Davy Jones. So with that being said, let’s talk about all the changes the
2006 revamp brought about. The addition of characters from the movies really had
a big impact on the rides storyline, effectively altering the entire thing.
Now instead of the Pirates attacking the town for its rum, loot and other valuables,
the town is now being attacked by Captain Barbossa and his men, who are
looking for Jack Sparrow. While Jack, on the other hand, is looking for the town’s
treasure. The rides new storyline was accomplished
by repurposing a few of the pre-existing animatronics, adding a couple new ones
and creating a whole new endscene so, let’s delve into that a little bit
further. The first new pirate you come across is Barbosa,
attacking a fort from his ship “The Wicked Wench” the Barbosa animatronic
is actually just a regular pirate from the original ride that was redesigned
and given some new dialogue. Barbosa was also updated in 2015 to now have on his
privateer outfit. Next up is the first scene in the town itself, where some of
the Pirates are dunking the mayor in the well to find out where the town’s
treasure is, the dialogue in this scene was also changed so the Pirates were now
asking for the whereabouts of Jack Sparrow. I should also note that the
first of the Jack Sparrow animatronic’s can be seen here as well,
hiding behind some dresses from the Pirates who are after him. Unlike
Barbosa, all three of the Jack animatronics are brand new and didn’t
replace any other characters. The next time we see Jack is at the chase scene,
like I mentioned earlier this scene saw its first set of changes in the late 90s,
however it did get altered again in 2006 when all four of the rotating pirates
were all changed and so was the “gluttonous pirate”. Each of the rotating
pirates were now doing something different, like stealing some treasure or
getting chased by a woman with a weapon. As for the gluttonous pirate, he’s now
busy talking about his map to the town’s treasure room and the key he has to open
it, this is also where we see our second instance of Captain Jack
who’s now hiding in a barrel behind him. This of course, leads us to our final
chance to see Jack, celebrating his newfound riches in the treasure room.
Surprisingly enough, the treasure room is actually an entirely new scene from the
2006 refurb. Up until that point the room was just filled with a bunch of
drunken pirates, shooting off guns at explosive barrels in the middle of the
burning building. For whatever reason one of the drunk pirates was removed from
this portion of the ride in the late 90s and is thought by many who have actually
been relocated to the chase where another pirate can be seen with almost
the exact same movements. The actual reason that pirate was moved was so
Disney could better showcase a new addition they had recently added behind
him, that being two new figures who are trying to take a treasure chest back up
the lift hill, and a set of skeletons behind them who seemed to have died
doing the same thing. That of course was later removed in 2006, and replaced by
the treasure room where we see Jack as we go back up to lift. And finally the
lift that brings us back up to the parks ground level also brings us our last new
addition, that being some lines of dialogue from Davy Jones. This element is
very similar to a different effect that was added towards the beginning of the
ride in the refurb where you can see a misty projection of Davy Jones it was
previously just a dark cavern. That effect was later changed again in 2011
when they added Blackbeard to this portion as well, who would alternate with
Davy Jones. However the effect was removed altogether in 2018, when Disney
he brought back the original “ghostly dialogue” from the cavern and added a new
effect, where you could see an octopus and the remains of a pirate caught in a
booby trap, who will then turn back into a person as you pass by him. Lastly in
June of 2018, the original auction scene was modified so the Pirates were no
longer buying the town’s women, and we’re now instead buying other miscellaneous
items, like paintings and clocks. Because I guess pirates are a lot more
interested in fancy chandeliers than women. You know, I mean, who would’ve guessed?
They also changed the redhead animatronic from that scene as well and
replaced her with a new female pirate who’s also auctioning off the town’s
items and really, that’s about it for all the changes the ride has seen over the
years. I should also mention that over time, it has been upgraded in many
different ways so the rides technology doesn’t seem so dated, that includes
things like the overall look of the animatronics and the scene lighting. On
top of that they’ve also managed to add projections to a few areas on the ride
as well and updated some of the older effects too, like the flames and burnt
wood. So it all looks a lot more realistic. At the end of the day, Pirates of the
Caribbean is one of Disney’s most entertaining and memorable dark rides.
Only in a ride like Pirates can you have so many iconic characters that even the
average guest will likely have their own favorite. On top of being a timeless
classic, the rides history really showcases some monumentous advancements
when it came to Disney attractions, with all the new types of technologies being
debuted with it. The ride also managed to show how a
bunch of different people, with different skill sets could come together, and
create an experience that guests would really enjoy. With people like Marc Davis
doing the drawings, Blaine Gibson sculpting the figures, Claude coats
designing the sets and X Atencio writing the music and dialogue. Hopefully at this
point, pirates has secured it’s spot as an attraction that won’t go anywhere
anytime soon and, if it does see any more updates in the future, hopefully they’ll
only add to the original sense of fun and adventure that the ride brought us. Yo ho, ho ho, pirates life for me! ᕙ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)ᕗ

Comments 32

  • This is interesting even though the #MeToo Movement has become a scary situation during Donald Trump's presidency. Redd used to expose her ****** as a wench in the beginning, but it got changed last year in the spring. It returned again in the summer of last year with Redd as pirate giving rum away to the pirates in the auction scene. Change is hard to deal with in reality, but in the words of Frank Sinatra, "That's Life". 👍🏻if you're observant and like this dark/flume ride very much.

  • the hunted mansion was supposed to b a walk thur too. but i am glad both attractions r rides.

  • can all disney fans follow me on my page i am new to youtube n my page is about disney thanks

  • i missed the redhead i dont like the new changes

  • …no more women auctions, thank you PC babies.

  • I went to Disney World this past Christmas and rode the Pirates ride a few times. I especially wanted to see what the new change to the bride auction was like. Now in my opinion, after riding a few times, I came to the conclusion that while it’s not as bad of a change as some people make it out to be, it’s still a rather weird change. I’m sure I’ll adjust given time. However I think a good comprise would’ve been keeping the bride auction and turning the red head into a fellow crew member, having her fire her gun at the crowd of drunk pirates trying to make passes at her rather than at the cargo. Maybe even having her shout some smart insults back at them.

  • After I take over Disney, I will be destroying any references to the movies and bringing back the bride auction. I will make Pirates of the Caribbean great again and I don't care if I cause boycotts by restoring the bride auction and the original chase scene.

  • Shanghai Pirates of Caribbean 🏴‍☠️ is much more impressive!
    Wish we had it in the USA.
    Anyway SJW’s will destroy it more and more in the future.

  • My favourite ride at Disneyland for sure

  • It was better when it had an edge and they didnt pussify it or turn it into a version of the Hollywood movie.

  • I wish they'd never brought Jack Sparrow or any of the movie crap into it and it was a travesty when they reversed the men chasing the women. Absolute hogwash bullshit.

  • In 1981, when I first went to Disney World, Animatronics were still impressive and still thought of as advanced tech. There really wasn't anything still going on out there in the public eye that was deemed "advanced tech" save for Atari.

  • More realistic does not mean more interesting. No need to ruin a beautiful piece of history.

  • What is the original captain of the ship called
    Edit: Can someone reply already

  • IMHO the ride original concept was much better. The experince, immersion on the storytelling of pirates just sacking a village, and doing pirates stuff. The change to fit jack sparrow movie for me made it artificial shallow experience. Missed some of the magic of the former ride. I believe missed magic from Wall Disney itself, replaced by the grayness of the current ceo's. As it happened in removing alien encounter, peoplemover, and others.

  • I’m fine with the new version of the ride. And the auction scene and girl pirate

  • Pirate of the Caribbean the ride and bottom of the rum song ever was evil skeleton into ghost pirate party

  • The one at Disneyland Paris is actually really similar, though the Blackbeard/Davy Jones effect is still present and the only time you actually see Barbosa is at the end, Jack Sparrow can also only be seen twice rather than thrice

  • I know that Walt wanted the park to continuously change but I hate that they felt like they needed a girl lead in the “We wants the red head!” Part. In reality, THERE ARE NO FEMALE PIRATES. LOOK IT UP. The males even resisted to let them on board. I’m not someone who promotes bad behavior but the guy was more memorable as the girl just says “The gentlemen want the rum, don’t ya boys?” The pirates were NEVER good people. So I don’t know why they needed to water it down for the SJWs. Sorry for the rant but I don’t like when SJWs complain about things that are historically correct.

  • We want the red head

  • The boobytrapped skeleton turning into a living pirate is so well done! Is it a peppers ghost effect? i noticed the transition was our view passed the ropes, is there glass there to reflect it or is it done some other way?

    Edit: it's just half a skeleton and half a "living" guy with a two sided mirror through the middle

  • So they took out Paul Frees’ lines and the fat wench can’t show us her larboard side? THE HELL!?

  • It’s sucks they had to make the ride politically correct , because tourists can’t have an imagination and have innocent fun.

  • Captains headboard has a real skull

  • Real bones were used in the earlier years of the ride.

  • 6:37 little did they know that the new queue would cause the same problem. 😂

  • I never got to go on those ride and I’ve always wanted to

  • They caved in and gave to virtue signaling PC culture. It has ruined comedy and pretty much everything else. I wish that more people would stand up and demand that they change it back. Pirates are supposed to plunder and take the women and treasure. That's what pirates are! I mean if you no longer wish to show pirates then don't, but to whitewash and bastardize them into something that they are not, is just unforgivable. What are they supposed to be doing in that town? Stopping in to say hello?

  • Where Jean Laffiete?

  • The best thing about the ride is the chance to sit down and relax for 15 minutes.

  • I am no sexist or anything like that, but I hate it when people want to change history. The reason we have history is so we can see progression of humanity and learn as a species of our past mistakes. And it’s just fascinating to learn about historical culture good or bad. So it’s for these reasons that I find it ridiculous how they made the pirates as mentioned in the video, more interested in food and chandeliers… it’s not how it was, and just seems weird. I still enjoy the ride tons, but it just seems ridiculous to shift and shape historical references that become inaccurate by doing so. Anyone agree or get what I’m talking about?

  • Disneyland doesn't have rides, it has attractions 🙂

  • I love the 2018 updates! Ever since they changed the cavern scene the ride has become one of my favorite rides.

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