A Tour Through the Wickedly
Fun World of Disney's Pirates
"Gold doubloons and silver ingots
buried on a deserted island are not merely myths or rumors.
Many pirates, fearing capture and imprisonment, hid their
treasure where only they could find it. Their maps have
been long since lost, but the precious metals remain entombed
only temporarily... Yet, for the many who disbelieve the
stories of buried treasure, let them remember that little
treasure has been found to date because DEAD MEN TELL
NO TALES...."Excerpted from the Disneyland
souvenir booklet Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean
A radio spot
released in 1967 advertises Disneyland's "rollicking
adventure" with "bloodthirsty cut-throats..."
in the form of the brand new Pirates of the Caribbean
Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction
is the centerpiece of the "New Orleans Square"
section of the park, an amazingly faithful reproduction
of a French Quarter boulevard from a century ago. Lacy iron
grillwork on the balconies and shadowy corridors complete
the illusion as guests stroll through lazy Louisiana.
In this photo, Walt Disney officially opens New Orleans
Square in July of 1966 with Victor Schiro, the actual
mayor of New Orleans at the time. The new section
of the park occupied three acres and cost $18 million.
A reporter from New Orleans that was covering the
event was rumored to remark that the area "is
the next best thing to being there!" The new
Square sat adjacent to the vacant plantation manor
that would someday become the Haunted
Mansion, another feature of the New Orleans Square
area of Disneyland.
attraction posters promise that a trip through the Pirates
of the Caribbean will allow guests to "set sail with
the wildest crew that ever sacked the Spanish Main!"
It should be noted that the Pirates attraction at Walt Disney
World is in a section of the Magic Kingdom called "Caribbean
Plaza" (pictured, right), which was created and themed
specifically to the ride, and offers a more authentic "Caribbean"
flavor. But both parks immerse guests into an environment
that blends almost seamlessly with the POTC experience.
When guests enter the queue area to wait for
their boat to transport them through the attraction, they
find themselves deep inside a land of perpetual twilight.
A parrot "barker"
sits outside the queue to Walt Disney World's Pirates,
beckoning guests to enter the attraction.
In this evening bayou, lazy
fireflies are starting their evening flights and a local
swamp-dweller passes the evening plucking out familiar
southern tunes on his old banjo. Guests wander past
a cleverly concealed restaurant (called the Blue Bayou,
one of Disneyland's finest and most popular dining areas),
and line up to catch their boat at Laffite's Landing.
A dinner at the Blue Bayou is a Disneyland experience
not to be missed.
Tree frogs and
swamp creatures echo through the Blue Bayou
in this sample of the POTC atmosphere from the ride
After entering your boat, it drifts off placidly
through the misty waters, past a lolling houseboat
under an amazingly realistic moonlit night. Crickets,
frogs, toads, 'gators and all sorts of waterfowl (hidden
behind the mangroves) sing their eerie songs quietly
throughout the swamp as you drift slowly toward the
stone walls of a canal, which narrows into a brick
channel that sweeps the small flat-bottom boat quickly
toward a dark corridor.
From somewhere ahead, a steady low voice seems
to be warning you of the adventures that may lie ahead...
But for now, the gentle evening holds sway. The Blue Bayou
is widely regarded as Disneyland's most effective "outside-inside"
Situated inside of a 4-story high set, the flickering
lighting of lamps and lanterns reflecting off of the
gently-lapping waters creates a convincing outdoors
experience. This is amplified by a queue design that
gradually winds away from the natural sunlight, taking
the guests through a simulated onset of the evening
As the boat continues floating onward, the
mysterious voice continues droning on with a rather ominous
"Psst! Avast there! It be too late
to alter course, mateys... and there be plundering pirates
lurking in every cove, waitin' to board. Sit closer together,
and keep your ruddy hands inboard. That be the best way
to repel boarders. And mark well me words, mateys... dead
men tell no tales! Ye come seekin' adventure and salty
ol' pirates, aye? Sure ye come to the proper place. But
keep a weather eye open, mates, and hold on tight, with
both hands if you please... there be squalls ahead, and
Davey Jones waiting for them what don't obey..."
After turning a final corner in the brick channel,
guests find the owner of the mysterious voice: a living
"Jolly Roger!" Mounted on the bricks above
the boat's path, a plaque mounted with crossed swords
and a talking skull (voiced by Disney legend "X"
Atencio) asks the guests to take heed of his warnings.
Atencio not only provides the voice, but he also was
responsible for writing the entire show script.
X Atencio narrates
the introduction to the dead men's grotto, in the form
of a talking Jolly Roger.