Eight Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pirates of the Caribbean!

AHOY Mateys! Yer cap’n is here with a tale that ain’t about that diabolical wench Redd. No, today, we be havin’ a history lesson about me favorite ride in th’ whole park: Pirates of the Caribbean!

Don’t worry mateys. Both parks will be gettin’ their fair share o’ th’ loot.

I’ve sailed th’ seas of the Caribbean nigh on a thousand times, but its waters hold a lot o’ secrets… Lemme open up th’ doors to Davy Jones’s Locker to share just a few o’ them.

It was originally intended to be a wax museum.

Cap’n Walt wanted a pirate-themed attraction, but plans fer the voyage weren’t settled for years. See, in Disneyland’s early days, a lot o’ th’ fancy ride technologies ye landlubbers take fer granted, like Omnimovers an’ boat rides, were jus’ bein’ developed! So when th’ first plans were charted, Imagineers went with what they knew: museums!

This were the last ride that Walt Disney had input on before he sailed to th’ great Disneyland in th’ sky…

There’s a similar story over at th’ Haunted Mansion, where I like to haunt sometimes. (Yeah, I be a ghost pirate. Don’t steal Aztec gold, kids).  It were originally gonna be a Museum of the Strange before they figured out that fancy Omnimover. Pirates of the Caribbean was gonna be a walking tour through some waxy vignettes before 1964… th’ year “it’s a small world” debuted at th’ World’s Fair!

Th’ only ride with a theme song more infectious than mine! YAR HAR HAR HAR!

Cap’n Walt loved th’ boat ride, an’ decided to adapt it for th’ Pirate themed attraction at Disneyland! From there, th’ wax figures were replaced with Audio-Animatronics, and th’ rest were history!

Walt and Roy Disney signed the attraction… and were going to live there!

That fancy lookin’ mansion above th’ entrance has a lot o’ secrets. For one, if ye look at th’ gold spots on th’ railing (not pictured), you’ll notice the initials “WD” and “RD”; Walt Disney and Roy Disney! This were the last ride Cap’n Walt ever made, so it only makes sense he sign it!

Those windows be real, matey. ©Wikimedia

But he weren’t plannin’ on passin’ on. No, much like th’ well known Firehouse Apartment and the hidden Cindrella Castle apartment at Disney World, this was also meant to be a secret hideaway for th’ Disney Crew!

This is what you can find inside, if ye can find a way to board!

Now it be the Disney Dream Suite, but at one time the Disney Family could have lived above one o’ th’ most elaborate rides at the park!

The Fire isn’t real… but it sure looks like it is.

Th’ fire at th ride’s climax is another Disney innovation. Aficionados like myself know that th’ effect is created by shinin’ light at billowin’ cloth, while smelitzers send out th’ scent o’ burnin’ wood. It’s a realistic effect… realistic enough to, accordin’ to legend, fool the Anaheim fire chief!

There are even rumors that th’ ride features a special kill switch to shut down all th’ fire effects in th’ event of a real fire, but we ain’t got confirmation.

It was never intended for Florida!

When th’ Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, it were home to a lot of classic attractions… “it’s a small world”, Jungle Cruise, The Haunted Mansion, but we pirates were sorely underrepresented! Why?

Imagine a Disney World without PIRATES!

Well, because the Caribbean ain’t exactly far from Florida, is it? Disney was worried that th’ Floridians would rather go see th’ abundance o’ real pirates that definitely sail around Florida all the time and aren’t just people in Tampa makin’ up fake history to justify a cool party.

Gasparilla owes me twenty doubloons…

Well, people demanded pirates, and Disney eventually delivered! Moral o’ the story?

TRICK QUESTION! Pirates don’ got morals.

The pirates were once a bit more… handsy.

We all know Redd (who ALSO OWES ME TWENTY DOUBLOONS), but older hands probably remember here pre-pirate days… as a bride for sale.

She hates it when I post this picture.

See, before she became a buccaneer, she was only worth a buck an ear if ye know what I mean! YAR HAR *cough*.

She were up for sale as a bride, alongside some other delightful ladies. Course, this was back in the sixties, where sellin’ woman into marital slavery was considered high comedy. Part o’ a series o’ other gags on the ride, actually. Now the pirates chase food, but when th’ ride opened their pursuits were a lot more lustful.

Redd

The lead writer had never written a script before… let alone a song!

Pirates of the Caribbean was written by the legendary X Atencio, who would also write the scripts for the Haunted Mansion and Adventure Thru Inner Space. However, he weren’t a scribe… he were an artist!

This scene be lookin’ so visually strikin’ for a reason.

His original job as an Imagineer was designing th’ Primeval World diorama for the Disneyland Railroad! Before that, he was an animator who worked on a few small Disney projects ye may o’ heard of: Pinocchio and Mary Poppins.

X. Atencio’s first project as an Imagineer.

Despite not being a writer, Atencio’s skill as an artist and storyboarder served him well, lettin’ him lay out th’ ride’s iconic scenes while providing the classic dialogue we all know and love. He’s even responsible for writing Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me), despite havin’ no prior musical knowledge!

I guess we can be creditin’ all o’ this to his… Atencio to detail! HA! I’d kill meself with laughter if I weren’t already dead. Speakin’ o’ which…

The ride is supposedly the dying dream of a pirate.

Before we got turned into a hit film franchise, th’ ride was very clearly a glimpse into th’ past. It’s why it be openin’ with all o’ them skeletons and ominous talkin’ skulls.

Dead men tell some tales…

See, according to legend, th’ ride tells th’ story o’ th’ last night a pirate spent alive… raidin’ an pillagin’ a village before dyin’ to his own hubris! Classic morality tale.

Then there’s this guy…

Of course, when Jack Sparrow stumbled his way into th’ ride, the story was changed to be about Jack Sparrow outsmartin’ Barbossa’s crew as they raided th’ village. Th’ morality tale element was removed, so th’ more repulsive acts (like auctioning off women) were replaced with more tame alternatives.

Pirates be hip an’ cool now, ye see. Total image rebrandin’.

Ye can still see some elements o’ this on the ride, but th’ ghost story element’s been buried deeper than me treasure… which Redd stole. Blast her… .

There are rumors of real skeletons on the ride.

Ye might find this far-fetched, but it’s really not. See, back in th’ 60s an’ 70s, th’ technology to produce fake human remains were… lackluster. Th’ movie Poltergeist once infamously used real corpses in its swimming pool scene.

This just be a fancy prop… but accordin’ to legend…

So rather than raid th’ 1970s equivalent o’ Spirit Halloween, Disney just raided th’ UCLA Medical department and tossed real skeletons all over th’ ride.

As technology improved, the skeletons were replaced with replicas and properly interred… but there’s always that persistent rumor that the Imagineer’s still missed one. Ask a Disney fan, and they’ll point to any number o’ bones on the ride and insist they be real. Are they?

Well, I’d let you know but… Dead Men Tell No Tales! AHAHAHAHAHA!

We hope ye enjoyed your tour o’ th’ dark depths of the Caribbean. Do us a favor an’ scrawl a comment below if ye’d like to see more articles like this. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got an appointment at th’ Haunted Mansion with Master Gracey… .

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Austin Lang is an Orlando local with a love of Disney, puns, and Disney puns. He's been a contributing writer for AllEars since 2019, and has been sharing his quirky view of Disney life ever since.

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