01/22/2019- Join Mario and Brian as they uncover the history behind Walt Disney World and Disney Lands classic attraction Pirates of The Caribbean. Join us as we take a look at some of the original concepts for New Orleans Square, what Walt Disney Worlds pirates was supposed to be and some of the stories that inspired the attraction!

Thank you listeners Gillian and Arriah for the suggestion!



  • Early Disneyland
    • In the early 50's Walt and other Imagineers at Wed began developing ideas for attractions to bring into their upcoming park. Initially, a Pirate Wax museum was proposed. However the project saw little development and was put on hold \
    • Disney wouldn't let his park open without any pirates though, and a a restaurant named Captain Hook's Pirate Ship was built in Fantasyland prior to the park's opening and sponsored by Chicken of the Sea. The restaurant was shaped like a pirate ship and sat on a small body of water in the park. This restaurant stood as a Disneyland staple from opening day until 1982.
    • Disneyland opens in 1955. Even though it's initial start is a bit rocky, the park quickly becomes a success.
    • Walt and the other Imagineers quickly saw that in order to meet the growing demands of guests, the park would need to expand.
  • Expansion of New Orleans Square
    • A smaller section of the park near frontierland was known as Magnolia Park. It featured shaded sitting areas for guest, as well as a Plantation style restaurant. WED saw it's southern style as a good basis to expand into a New Orlean's themed land, the now popular New Orleans Square
    • In 1958, Walt Officially announced plans for New Orleans square, along with some of the attractions it would hold. Guests could expect a wax museum, Haunted House and Thieves Market.
  • Initial Development
    • Because Pirates had historical significance in New Orleans, Imagineers went back to the idea of a Pirates Wax Museum.
    • The initial designs for the Museum would transport guests to a small Caribbean Island in the 18th Century. Marc Davis was brought on the team to develop the attraction, and he began creating many sketches of the characters and scenery of the Museum. His sketches featured whimsical fictional Pirates, and Walt and other imagineers took inspiration from them to take the project in a different direction.
    • The imagineers developed a new concept for the Museum to be a small seaport. The attraction would be built underneath New Orleans Square, and feature a docked Pirate ship, numerous buildings and a variety of wax pirate figures based on Marc Davis' designs. Plans were finalized, and in 1961, construction began on the museum.
  • World's Fair
    • At this time, development for the Pirate Museum, the Haunted Mansion, and New Orleans Square as a whole were all underway. However all of these were put on hold when Walt was approached to develop attractions for the 64-65 World's Fair in New York. Walt poured nearly the entirety of WED into this project, and much of the park's progress was put on hold.
    • Walt and the Imagineer developed 4 attractions in total: Ford's Magic Skyway, Great moments with Mr. Lincoln, Progressland (which was later renamed to Carousel of Progress) and It's a small World
    • Walt took a gamble by shifting the Company's focus towards the fair, but in doing so paved the way for much of the future of his parks. Three of the attractions made their way back to Disney parks upon the end of the fair, and two major ride systems, the omnimover and boat ride, were developed through these attractions. Furthermore, Imagineers greatly expanded upon the technology of Audio-animatronics.
  • Further Development
    • Once the fair was over and WED shifted their focus back towards the park, the initial concept for the Pirate's Wax Museum was quickly scrapped. Walt learned during the fair that for future success at Disneyland, Attractions would need to be "People-eaters", capable of moving large numbers of guest through them per hour. a Walk-through museum simply didn't have that capability. Walt also saw this as a great opportunity to showcase the boat-ride system WED had developed for It's a Small World. The team also replaced the static wax figures with audio animatronics to further guest immersion and storytelling
    • Initially Marc Davis planned to have the walk through attraction be themed to famous pirates and actual pirate lore. Marc Davis learned through his research that most pirates were not as glamorous as imagineers had originally assumed. Most were hired thieves and killers and died from diseases rather than at the end of a sword  
    • Again, the concept Art from Marc Davis greatly influenced the overall theme of the attraction. The seaport town from the latest iteration of the Wax museum was carried over, and many of the scenes came directly from his drawings, such as the prisoners luring the dog with the keys
    • As storyboards were developed for the attraction, and more and more scenes were added, it became apparent that the attraction was simply not going to fit in the original space set aside for it. Imagineers decided to develop a show building to house the ride that actually sat outside the park.
    • In 1965, X Atencio joined the team at WED, formerly working as an animator and story boarding for Walt Disney Animation. Walt assigned him to work alongside George Burns to create a theme song for the attraction. Burns developed the music and Atencio wrote the lyrics to what would become Yo Ho (A Pirate's life for Me). This was the first song X. Atencio had ever written
    • Work on the building, audio animatronics and scenery was taking place, and the attraction was initially given the name of "Blue Bayou Lagoon" This was changed shortly before opening to the now famous "Pirates of the Caribbean"
    • During a test run of the attraction Imagineers rigged a chair to a dolly and played the voice over to still moving figures to show Walt. during the initial run through the imagineers stated that they were afraid that there was too much going on for guests to focus in on one line of dialog. Walt however loved that about the attraction, comparing it to a cocktail party and saying that every time you rode the attraction you would hear something new.
    • Construction continued on, but as Pirates neared completion, Walt's health began to deteriorate. On December 15, 1966 Walt passed away, a mere three months from the opening of the Disneyland Attraction. It would be the last project at the Parks Walt was directly involved in.
  • Opening of Pirates
    • On March 18, 1967, Pirates, Along with the Blue bayou restaurant contained in the show building opened its doors and was an immediate success. Disney's use of Audio Animatronics was not only something that most guests had never seen before, but being done on such a grand scale immediately grabbed viewer's attention
    • A couple weeks into being open a fire breaks out in one of the scenes damaging a few of the AA figures clothing. Imagineers were in a panic but luckily customer Alice Davis had gone behind accountins back and created doubles of the costumes for each figure.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean has been a marquee attraction at Disneyland for 50 years. Over the years, the ride's presence had made its way into every Disney Park around the globe.
    • Two years after the opening of Magic Kingdom, a slightly shortened version was opened in Adventureland. Because the Magic Kingdom did not have a New Orleans Square the opening bayou scene along with some other elements were removed from the ride to better fit its location within the park.
    • Pirates was not in the works for WDW due to the number of  pirate attractions in Florida already. However in its place was set to be another attraction by imagineer Marc Davis called Western River Expedition. The attraction itself would tell a similar story to pirates expect it would be set in the wild west. The attraction was later scrapped as people demanded a pirates in Disney World Due to its popularity on the west coast. Forcing disney to scrap the idea and open WDWs version of pirates two years after opening.
    • 10 years later on April 15, 1983, Tokyo Disneyland opened its gates with a version of Pirates, which kept to the original attraction much more than the Disney World version
    • Even tho the ride was initially set to mirror Disneyland's pirates it was not without some pre-opening hiccups. Translation errors plagued the initial stages of this attraction. one of the more interesting one being that the opening dialog of "dead men tell no tales" was initially translated to "there are no lips on a dead man." imagineers were not able to make this make sense and instead had to translate it to "if you are not careful you will not pass this way again"
    • Disneyland Paris followed suit, Opening on April 15, 1992. It's opening scene differs slightly from other version, but much of the rest of the ride remains the same
    • On June 16, 2016, Arguably the most unique iteration of Pirates of the Caribbean opened at Shanghai Disneyland. This version of the ride was heavily inspired by the successful movie franchise, and employed the use of a number of screens and projection technology. However the ride still makes a number of references towards the original Anaheim attraction
  • Changes over the Years
    • In 1963 an animatronic bird also known as the barker bird was placed outside of the attraction building to draw people into the attraction. He would sing out “A parrot's life for me”. It's said that he (along with his counterpart over at the tiki room) were taken down due to attracting too many onlookers that would crowd the entrance and walkways by their attractions - Disneyland
    • Disneyland's version of pirate remained almost completely unchanged from its opening until 1987. At this time, the queue was updated to allow a bridge to be built over its exterior portion to allow better traffic flow in New Orleans Square
    • The first change to the ride itself didn't occur until 1997, when the scene involving the pirates chasing the women through the town was updated. The women were first given food so that it would seem that the pirates merely had a strong appetite. Later the women and men switched positions with the women holding brooms above their heads. Another change to this scene in '97 was to the pirate sitting in front of the barrel talking about chasing a particular woman around the town while holding a dress. The seemingly nude woman would periodically stick her head out of the barrel. This character's dialogue was changed to talking about eating food, and the woman was replaced with a stray cat. In 2006 the cat was replaced with Captain Jack Sparrow, and the Pirate's line were again changed to say he had a treasure map.
    • In 2006 references to Pirates of the Caribbean: curse of the black Pearl were added to the attraction due to the movies success. Other references were later added upon the success of the movies sequels. most of the changes to this attraction have been due to this.
    • In 2018 the auction scene was replaced. the formally auctioned off redhead animatronic was rebranded into Redd the pirate. She went from being character off to the side that many disney fans recognized for the line "we wants the redhead" to the focal point of the scene
  • Fun Facts
    • Disneyland's version of the attraction features a total of 128 Audio-Animatronic Figures
    • It takes a total of 3 days to drain and refill the attraction's waterways during refurbishment
    • Yale Gracey, the man behind peppers ghosts effect designed the fire effects. They are actually so believable that they have to be turned off in case of a fire
    • Thurl Ravenscroft, Paul Frees and X Attencio voice many of the pirates in the attraction
    • The Cave in the first section of the ride is inspired by Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Apparently Walt visited often and had used the caverns as inspiration for the drop section of the ride in DL. One night during one of his visits Walt asked a tour guide if he could stay in the caverns overnight, she agreed. Walt Stayed the night in the King's Palace section of the cavern. When the tour guide arrived in the morning she asked Walt how he felt of the caverns. He apparently replied “when you spend a night in a place like this by yourself, is when you realize the hand of God is what built this. I have the place in california, disneyland and I only hope that people feel a fraction of that when they come to visit it” ) -Rod Miller-  Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean History Documentary by David Oneal

Connect with us!
Website: Station71Podcast.com
Facebook: /Station71Pod
Twitter: @Station71Pod
Instagram: @Station71Podcast
Email: Station71Podcast@gmail.com

Google Voice Number: (561) 899-6441