This year, the Walt Disney parks and resorts are celebrating the 60th anniversary of Disney Imagineering; since Disneyland is one of our favorite getaway destinations, we at Getaway Brigade are paying our own homage to these artists by sharing with you some fun facts about our favorite Disneyland rides.
A brick passageway twists and turns, leaving the day behind. Laffite’s Landing appears. Empty boats rock gently with the night’s tide and glide silently over cool, still water. The sound of a banjo—slowly playing a melancholy tune—drifts through the air. The atmosphere is tense with anticipation when a skull a appears and breaks the calm:
“Ye come seekin’ adventure and salty ol’ pirates, eh? Sure ye come to the proper place. But keep a weather eye open, mates, and hold on tight…”
Gripping as they are, fantastic tales of swashbuckling pirates and hidden treasure are not all that the Pirates of the Caribbean ride offers. Hidden within this masterpiece—rich in Disney history—are tales that only a few guests know.
As with Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, there are many websites filled with bits of history and obscure facts about Pirates of the Caribbean. This post is not an exhaustive list. Rather, it is a small collection of our favorite fun facts about this iconic ride that we hope will surprise and delight you.
STUDY YE MAPS, SCALAWAG!
Disney Imagineers set the scene from the very moment guests enter the queue. “Pirates of the Caribbean” takes place in the city of Puerto Dorado on the island of Tesoro. A colorful parrot greets both entering and returning guests. Nearby is a map of Tesoro, which offers a closer look at Puerto Dorado. Be sure to look for this map the next time you visit.
CURSED PIRATES SAIL THESE WATERS.
After boarding the boats at Laffite’s Landing and passing through the swamp, a talking skull mounted on a bridge high above warns guests of the dangers lurking ahead. The voice of the skull is none other than X Astencio, the script writer and composer for the ride.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN IS A STORY TOLD IN REVERSE.
This is one of the cleverest storytelling techniques used in any ride at Disneyland and it blew my mind: the two waterfalls “transport” guests back in time, and the skeletons in the first part of the ride are the pirates depicted in the second. The seemingly disjointed scenes of “Pirates of the Caribbean” actually form a compelling story. And something to look for the next time you visit is the portrait of a redheaded woman in the Captain’s Quarters. This is a portrait of the redheaded girl being auctioned in the town earlier in her life.
PIRATES IMAGINEER’S LIFE FOR ME!
Disney’s Imagineers enjoy a job filled with perks, the best of which has to be the (albeit rare) opportunity to immortalize oneself as a swashbuckling animatronic pirate. Many of the pirates throughout Pirates of the Caribbean are modeled after their creators. One pirate is even rumored to have been modeled after Walt himself!
ARG, THEM BE REAL BONES.
When Pirates of the Caribbean opened in 1967, Disney’s Imagineers were unable to find realistic-looking skeleton props, so they used real skeletal remains from the medical center at UCLA. The remains have since been replaced and returned to their respective countries of origin for proper burial.
Pirates of the Caribbean was the last ride Walt Disney worked on and it was his favorite ride at the time of his death. The ride is both a technical and artistic masterpiece that is rich in hidden history. What’s your favorite part of this ride?