50 Years of Pirates

It’s hard to believe that Pirates of Caribbean opened a half-century ago at Disneyland on March 18, 1967 — but here we are, 50 years later, and the attraction has stood the test of time. 

One of Disneyland’s most popular attractions, Pirates is still fresh and exciting, and easily competes with the more modern-day E-Tickets. Of course, nostalgia plays a heavy hand it it’s popularity: childhood memories, the fantastic feeling of a ride that Walt himself oversaw, even that damp cavernous scent! That aside, the attraction still has an unmatched magic and mystique, taking you not only to a far off land and era, but also to a perpetual evening time, even if you are riding during the day.

Originally conceptualized as a walk-through wax-museum, the ride was later re-imagineered as a spectacular dark ride, complete with rises and drops, twists and turns, all aboard a quaint 15-minute boat journey — a remarkable feat of engineering for it’s time. More than just the thrills of the boats’ speed and drops, is the relaxing cruise through a Louisiana Bayou, an underground grotto, a foggy harbor, and a Spanish seaport town. The settings are complete with 100+ animatronic pirates, townspeople, and animals; fog and fire effects; and of course, that catchy soundtrack: “Yo ho, a pirates life for me!”

The view of the Louisiana bayou from the unloading dock at Laffite’s Landing.

Wrong side of the tracks: Passing rickety elevated shacks, houseboats, and lazy fireflies, to the tune of soft (yet a little creepy) banjo music emanating from one of the residences.

Smell that? The Blue Bayou restaurant, themed as a backyard dinner party at a Southern plantation, sits at the waters edge as boats float past. Someone throw me a dinner roll.

Skewered to death: After the the first waterfall lies an underground grotto, home to a few unfortunate pirates, likely slain for their treasure, or for knowing too much. Dead mean tell no tales!

Not flash photography: The shipwrecked skeletal helmsman is a popular photo op, if you can time it just right and catch the lightning to illuminate him.

The trio — technically a quartet, but the donkey didn’t make it into the photo

It’s not her fault she’s so popular: The sassy redhead from Isla Tosero steals the show. Drunken pirates chant “We want the redhead” as the auctioneer shames her for showing a little too much leg. “Strike your colors you brazen wench! No need to expose your superstructure!”. Rude.

Tipsy Jack: Added in 2006, an animatronic Captain Jack Sparrow is the last pirate seen as boats are conveyed up the ramp to the exit. Lifelike.


This weekend at Disneyland Park, the 50th anniversary of Pirates is celebrated with special pirate-themed entertainment, food, and merchandise. More info is avabilable on the Disney Parks Blog.