Seeing Where it All Began at the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean Ride

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If you’re a die-hard Disney Nerd like me then you know that Pirates of the Caribbean’s film franchise was all inspired by the attraction that can be found at all of the Disney Parks except Hong Kong Disney. I had the pleasure of learning from the Disney Archives staff and riding the original ride at Disneyland. This was my first visit to Disneyland so you can imagine how excited I was.  

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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. This was the last Disneyland attraction Walt Disney personally supervised.

The Disneyland version was the last attraction that Walt Disney himself participated in designing; it opened on March 18, 1967, three months after his death. He never got to ride it but did get to experience it on a sound stage that had everything set up as a mock ride. The ride was original supposed to be wax figures but Walt wanted to do animatronics after the success of the Jungle Cruise. They had only done animals at that point so doing people was a new challenge that Walt took on. Because of the change in ride plans from wax museum to full ride, the space needed to be bigger. Around this time the boat system was developed to help move people through faster. They built the ride underground because the space they had created was too small now. The ride actually extends underground past the railroad system. There are photos of Waly Disney having a cocktail party and walking through the mock-up of Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Walt Disney poses with sculpted models that were used to create Audio-Animatronics figures for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

As someone that has only ridden the ride in Walt Disney World, I was anxious to see what the differences were between the original. The first movie came out in 2003 and then in 2006, they started adding elements of the movie into the ride. Shanghai Disney actually has an entire land devoted to Pirates of the Caribbean. The movie franchise is quite popular over there.

The Disney Archives has a copy of the first Disneyland ticket, bought by Roy Disney, Walt’s brother, to show his support of his brother. They also have a 23 foot “miniature” of the Black Pearl from the first film, it is the largest thing in the archives. 

After our visit to the archives, we went to visit the ride at Disneyland. As I mentioned before, this was my first visit to Disneyland park. I’m an East Coast Girl so I frequent Walt Disney World any chance I can without my husband divorcing me. I actually had my first Disneyland trip scheduled and planned out for July during the D23 Expo. This was an exciting surprise for me. 

So there are some major differences between the two rides in the US. The Disneyland version is longer due to the winding through the caves at the beginning. There is also one extra drop at the Disneyland version. Most of the rest of the ride is similar with the exception of the treasure room. It is much bigger in Walt Disney World. 

My favorite part of the ride is still the guard dog with the keys. I remember when I saw this play out on the big screen it made my heart swoon. 

Fun Fact: During the darkness scene when the boat makes it to Davy Jones locker in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, you can hear a sound clip from the original ride. 


Make sure to check out all the great things happening at the Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure. 

You can also see a 4D sneak peek of the new movie and see some of the costumes and props from the movie! 

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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