Step Back: Disneyland’s Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship
This article appeared in the July 28, 2020 (#1089) edition of ALL EARS®
Editor’s Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.
Join us on our monthly journey into the past as we explore the history of Walt Disney World and the Walt Disney Company. This time we look back to August 1955 when the iconic Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant opened at Disneyland.
In the classic 1953 film, Peter Pan defeats Captain Hook and takes over his pirate ship. With the power of pixie dust, Peter flies the ship to London and returns Wendy and her brothers to the nursery. In 1955, Walt Disney decided to include a full-size replica of Hook’s ship as part of Disneyland.
The ship was so big that it had to be built backstage, behind the Main Street Opera house. It was constructed almost entirely of wood and was exquisite in its detail. Even the sails were functional, capable of being raised and lowered. After the boat was finished, life imitated art, and the ship “flew” (by crane) to its permanent home in Fantasyland.
On August 29, 1955, the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant opened for business. Guests entered through a door in the hull and went below deck to place their orders. The menu went beyond plain old tuna sandwiches; there were also tuna burgers, hot tuna pies and a signature tuna salad served in a miniature boat. Prices ranged from 55 to 90 cents.
The ship was an immediate hit with guests. The deck was beautiful and begging to be explored. Kids loved playing on board, and meeting Paco the Talking Parrot—who was a real, live bird. Pirates were often on hand, including Captain Hook, and sometimes you could even meet the hero himself, Peter Pan!
At first, the Pirate Ship sat in its own tiny body of water. In 1960, the area was enhanced when Disney added Skull Rock Cove. This exotic setting included waterfalls and doubled as a seating area for the restaurant.
In 1969, Chicken of the Sea dropped its sponsorship, but the restaurant remained. It was rechristened Captain Hook’s Galley and continued serving guests until 1982. At that point, the ship was supposed be relocated to make room for the expansion of Fantasyland.
It was not to be. Years of sitting in water had rotted the boat’s wooden frame. This had been partially replaced by concrete, making the ship impossible to move. As a result, this long-time fan favorite had to be demolished. Today, the Dumbo attraction sits in its place. It is rumored that the stone formation near that queue was originally part of Skull Rock Cove.
True buccaneers can still experience the thrill of visiting Hook’s ship at Disneyland Paris. Initially, it was also a restaurant called Captain Hook’s Galley. Instead of tuna, they served ice cream, hot dogs, and fries. In 2011, the ship became a walkthrough attraction called the Pirate Galleon. Skull Rock is nearby, and an attraction in its own right; it is part of a network of caves available for intrepid adventurers to explore.
For more info on Disneyland Paris’ ship, click here.