2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean
Published: February 19, 2010 at 1:10 AM
Pirates of the Caribbean debuted in the then-new New Orleans Square section of Disneyland in March 1967 and since then has spawned a multi-billion-dollar entertainment empire. The story of a pirate raid on a Spanish port has grown into three (soon to be four) movies, video games and theme park rides around the world.
Pirates takes riders on a 15-minute trip from New Orleans Square's Blue Bayou down two waterfalls into a misty realm where Davy Jones challenges you with a pirate's curse and "dead men tell no tales." Disney's Imagineers have tweaked the ride several times since its 1967 debut, most recently in 2007, with the addition of characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, including Davy Jones and Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow.
The show's burning city finale features the rousing theme "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me" by X. Atencio and George Bruns, followed by a coda in the city's crumbling prison, where the pirates face their comeuppance. (Except for Jack Sparrow, of course.)
If you've ridden only the Walt Disney World version of this ride... you're missing quite a bit. With two waterfalls, a much longer lower grotto and a backstory that provided the backbone for the first movie, the Anaheim original easily outscores the Florida copy. You'll also find Pirates of the Caribbean rides at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.
Pirates of the Caribbean set a standard for theme park attractions that few other rides have been able to meet over the past 40-some years. We'll find out how far Pirates can go in this year's tournament when voting begins next month.