Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Celebrates Its Birthday

March 18, 2023, 8:02 AM · Happy birthday to Pirates of the Caribbean. The Disney Parks IP premiered 56 years ago today, when the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride opened at Disneyland on March 18, 1967.

Pirates was the final theme park attraction that Walt Disney himself oversaw through to construction, as it opened just three months after his death in December 1966. Today, Pirates has grown into a multi-billion-dollar, multimedia franchise, with five movies that have grossed more than $3.7 billion as well as rides in five Disney theme parks around the world.

But it all started in 1967 at New Orleans Square in Disneyland.

Ever since it opened, Pirates has provided the model for what a great theme park should be. Its ride system is accessible yet novel and interesting with that drop (designed to get the boats under Disneyland's railroad tracks on their way to the larger show building outside the park's berm). The Audio Animatronics and elaborate show scenes hold riders' visual interest with their depth and detail, without the need for 3D glasses. And it offers a theme song from George Bruns and X Atencio that endures as one of the great theme park earworms.

Yet Pirates' subject matter has proved troublesome, as later generations have looked beyond the caricatures to consider the history of the real pirates that inspired such tales. To its credit, Disney has not dismissed those criticisms, but rather considered them and used them as inspiration to make changes that have helped Pirates of the Caribbean endure for multiple generations.

I never worked at Disneyland, but I did work at the Walt Disney World installation of Pirates for a few years. And the ride provided the scene for some of my favorite cast member stories:

If you have a favorite story or some thoughts about Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, please share them with us in the comments.

Visiting Disney?

For our reader rankings and advice on visiting Disneyland and Disney World, as well as other top theme parks across the country and around the world, please visit our our Theme Park listings page.

And for more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.

Update: Because, why not? Here is the on-ride POV for Pirates at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom - my old home.

Replies (5)

March 18, 2023 at 9:07 AM

To this day, one of the greatest attractions ever in my opinion. The fame of this ride was so ubiquitous it even spawned the best line in Jurassic Park. And as a kid riding this with my parents, I was in awe of the detail and magic of the practical effects. To this day, I always make it a point to gaze up the pants of the bridge pirate to see the tiny hairs on his leg, which my dad pointed out to me my first time riding. “Dead men tell no tales….”
I can smell the water now :)

March 18, 2023 at 9:28 AM

Bromine, baby!

March 18, 2023 at 10:58 AM

Mother’s Milk! Well, at least in the olfactory sense lol

March 18, 2023 at 12:31 PM

Just rode it last week and still magnificent work all around.

March 20, 2023 at 1:04 PM

Looked FANTASTIC this past weekend, I don't remember the moon ever being so bright and mysterious in the opening Barbossa sequence.

Too bad the women calling down to the man being drowned in the well has gone missing. Hopefully she'll be back (and hasn't be deleted).

The ride didn't even back up this weekend, just excellent ride after excellent ride. My favorite moment remains when the chubbiest of the three singers does his adlibbed sing-song refrain . . .

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive