Pirates of the Caribbean

Here’s to one of the iconic attractions from the Walt Disney Imagineers and the very hand of Walt himself as it celebrates 50 years in Disney’s Parks, Resorts, and now Films. The original Disneyland attraction was the last ride Walt personally participated in developing before his death in 1966.

The piece above is an older illustration, and one in a series of the “Carry On” memes requested, I did for the Disney Parks and Resorts Social media team for their Facebook page ad other outlets. The illustrations proved very popular with the campaign gathering well over 35,000 likes on Disney’s posts.

Although not an original attraction when the Magic Kingdom opened the Pirates of the Caribbean quickly became one of the most popular attractions when it opened on December 15, 1973. The reason why this ride was not in place for the grand opening of Walt Disney World, was due to Florida’s proximity to the actual Caribbean. Walt’s team thought being so close to the historic origins of these pirates, the audience would have no interest in the ride; a Western themed cowboys and Indians attraction was slated for the park.

The Imagineers changed their plans, however, when word got out that there were no pirates at this park. They quickly drew up the plans, based on the original design. Although not as extensive and immersive as the original ride in California, the Pirates of the Caribbean maintained the same story line and major features of the original.

The attraction has gone through some refurbishment over the years. The first, and most controversial, was eliminating the lusty rapaciousness of pirates. No more chasing women, only food and drink. This lead to a lot of criticism from longtime fans even from Imagineers themselves.

The second major refurbishment came in 2006 when the ride that inspired a movie was now being updated to include that film’s characters in the story-line. Including all new characters from the film in the ride: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). These new parts are all voiced by the original actors from the films.

Fun fact: the position of the pieces on the chess board were carefully arranged by Marc Davis so that any move results in a never-ending game.