Pirates of the Caribbean is a ride at Disneyland and one of the most famous in the park's legacy. It is known for being one of the final attractions made with Walt Disney's involvement, and is also known for its catchy theme song. In recent years, the ride has become better known as the inspiration for a successful film franchise.
This ride is a dark boat ride. It features two drops that lead below ground. It has a very wide population of audio-animatronic humans and animals. It was created with some of the technologies from the 1964–65 New York World's Fair. This is the theme park version of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Pirates of the Caribbean is located in the land of New Orleans Square at Disneyland Park, California part of the larger Disneyland Resort. It is below the Disney Gallery and next to Tarzan's Treehouse in Adventureland. New Orleans Square is surrounded by the lands of Critter Country, Frontierland and Adventureland. Critter Country to the northwest, Frontierland to the northeast and Adventureland to the southeast.
The indoor ride itself goes outside the western boundary of Disneyland Park going beneath the Disneyland Railroad. It does so by going over two waterfalls leading you below ground.
First you slowly move along with the canal as you come across a bayou, similar to what you would see in Florida or Louisiana. As you drift pass the Blue Bayou Restaurant (inside the building right next to the ride) you hear frogs croaking and see fireflies buzzing around you. You also hear a man playing his banjo to the tunes of "Oh! Susanna".
You turn around a corner and discover a dark cave looking opening and hear a talking pirate skull give you a mysterious warning of what lies ahead. Suddenly, you feel your boat picking up speed as you slide down a waterfall taking you beneath the park level. After that is a second, but shorter waterfall that takes you even farther below ground.
In the first show building is a more mysterious setting that takes you through creepy caverns and some alive and some dead "skeleton pirates". The second show building is more silly than creepy because of the odd behavior of the "non-skeleton" pirates.
As you go through the caverns you hear a frightening voice say: "Dead man tell no tales". As you enter show building two you go through a pirate fight with pirate ships on both sides firing cannon balls at each other. Then the captain of the pirate crew auctions off wenches for wives to the other crew members. You go under a bridge to witness a pirate ransacking featuring pirates chasing the village people. Then, you go through what's left of the village. Through several burning houses that the pirates then destroyed after ransacking them. You end up in a jail of captured pirates trying to get a dog's attention for the key that it's holding. And finally, around the corner is a pirate gun fight where the bullets seem to shoot over your heads as you go up the final lift hill to the unloading station.
Originally, Walt Disney wanted this attraction to be a walk-through attraction using wax to make the pirates and would not be audio-animatronic, but those ideas were abandoned. Then came the technology of water propelled boats.
These came from the 64-65 New York World's Fair. With that, WED Enterprises was able to make one of the most advanced armies of audio-animatronics ever created by Disney. The process to make these figures was what made them so realistic. First they started with a sketch of the figure. Then they would make it 3-D (fraction scale replica). After, they would put them all in a fraction scale replica of what the show set would look like. And finally, they made the real full-scale audio-animatronics and the rest of the set as the ride you see today.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney died just three months before the attraction opened on March 18, 1967. Making this the last attraction he personally supervised before his death. He never saw the opening of this great attraction.
In 2003, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. It became a multi-billion dollar franchise with the addition of two sequels. The films have grossed more than US$2.7 billion. The first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl premiered in 2003. The second film, Dead Man's Chest premiered in 2006. The third film, At World's End premiered in 2007. Also, a fourth film has been confirmed for release in 2011.
In 2007, shortly after the premiere of the third film of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the attraction got a face-lift. In return, the attraction was inspired by the movie and added characters from the movie into the ride. These characters were Captain Barbossa, Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones.
Davy Jones is introduced first. He appears at the end of the cavern scenes as a mysterious figure in the mist and appears to be a hologram. During the battle scene Captain Barbossa is introduced as the one replacing the old pirate ship captain (He replaces the old captain throughout all of the ride). Also in this scene are two added audio-animatronics that were put in to match the dialogue that never had animatronics to go with it.
The story throughout the new attraction is that Captain Barbarossa and his crew are trying to capture arch-nemesis Jack Sparrow (Seen hiding from Barbarossa throughout the ride). Dialogue for some of the classic pirates are changed to match the story.
Blackbeard took the place of Davy Jones for a time in honor of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. When the ride was closed down in October for a major refurbishment Davy Jones was brought and now Davy Jones and Blackbeard take turns welcoming guests into the battle scene.