Disneyland’s Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride Celebrates 50 Years

Yo ho! On Saturday, March 18, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California turns 50-years-old. Located in the New Orleans Square area of the theme park, the ride opened 11 years after Disneyland’s opening. Fifty years later, there are four other versions of the ride located at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and the new version at the Shanghai Disney Resort called “Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure.” It even inspired it’s own blockbuster movie series.

A scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride

The first Pirates of the Caribbean ride was the last attraction that Walt Disney participated in designing. According to Disneyland’s own website, it was originally planned to be a walk-through wax museum exhibit, but after the success of the boat ride attraction, It’s a Small World, and the audio-animatronics used in the Carousel of Progress (both of which were featured first at the 1964 New York World’s Fair) Disney was inspired to bring these pirates to life by transporting guests by boat.

The original Pirates of the Caribbean features 53 audio-animatronic animals and birds and 75 pirates and villagers voiced by Paul Frees, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft, J. Pat O’Malley, and Xavier Atencio. In the 2006 remodel of the ride, Jack Sparrow and other characters from the film franchise appeared along with the voices of Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Bill Nighy. The Blue Bayou restaurant, which is part of the attraction, opened on the same day. Each large boat takes guests down a “waterfall” in darkness before witnessing Dead Man’s Cove and Hurricane Lagoon, where the skeletal remains of dead pirates dwell. Then, they travel between a battle of two pirate ships, through a village where various pirates terrorize the locals while singing “A Pirates Life for Me,” a dungeon and a burning city.

Jack Sparrow

And on this anniversary, it is fitting to learn that the most recent iteration of the attraction has won an award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project from the Visual Effects Society. Unlike the original ride, the Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, involves brand new technology that hasn’t been used in a theme park attraction, including an advanced propulsion system that lifts and turns boats carrying guests through large and impressive sets, and features the addition of many large-scale media screens.

To give you a sample of that ride, and a little more information about the history of the different versions of the attractions, watch this video:


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Finally, for those who could never make out all of the lyrics to the “Yo Ho” song that the pirates sing throughout the ride, here are some the original lyrics:

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me
We extort, we pilfer, we filch, and sack
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho
Maraud and embezzle, and even high-jack
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me
We kindle and char, inflame and ignite
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho
We burn up the city, we’re really a fright
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho

[Featured Image by: RT Images (Wicked Wench) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons – ship]