Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18: Yo Ho!

On this day in 1967, Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean debuted in New Orleans Square. A dark ride attraction, it was the last in which Walt Disney himself helped design (Mr. Disney had passed in December 1966).
Originally envisioned back in the 1950s as a walk-through pirate wax museum, the attraction eventually evolved into a boat ride. Disney's World's Fair success with Audio-Animatronics enabled Imagineers to fill the attraction with "living" pirates. Imagineer Marc Davis (one of Walt's "Nine Old Men") led the team in the design of Pirates of the Caribbean.
When it first opened, the attraction contained a scene in which pirates were shown chasing attractive females - along with a scene of an overweight woman chasing a pirate! Some guests were offended and so Disney made a change in which the woman chasing the prate had a rolling pin in her hand. (Although in 1997 this was once again changed to pirates pursuing women holding pies - leaving critics with a sense of "Boy Scouts of the Caribbean.")
The popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean led to versions in other theme parks - Disney World (in 1973), Tokyo Disneyland (in 1983), and Disneyland Paris (in 1992).
In 2003, Disney released Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, a feature film based on the attraction. It led to two sequels ... and in turn modifications to the original park attraction. Pirates of the Caribbean had come full-circle.

Click HERE for more March 18 Disney history.

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