Today in Disney History, 1967: Pirates of the Caribbean Opens at Disneyland Resort

by | Mar 18, 2024 | Disney History, Disneyland, Disneyland Parks, Magic Kingdom, WDW Blog

On this date in 1967, Pirates of the Caribbean had its opening day in Disneyland. Learn more about the history of its opening.

On March 18, 1967, Disneyland and the Disney Parks changed forever. That’s because this was the day that one of the most iconic Disney rides of all times officially had its opening day at the park. Twelve years after Disneyland first opened, Pirates of the Caribbean had its opening day.

Pirates of the Caribbean Opening Day

On March 18, 1967, Pirates of the Caribbean opened at Disneyland Park. Pirates of the Caribbean is a dark boat ride that tells the story of 17th and 18th-century pirates in the West Indies islands around the Caribbean. While the ride is considered to be one of the most memorable, immersive attractions in Disneyland, it originally was going to look far different.

Walt Disney first designed the attraction in the 1950s, when he imagined it as a wax museum that could be done as a walk-through attraction. However, that plan changed after Disney saw success with Carousel of Progress at the 1964 New York World Fair. After that success, Walt Disney and the Imagineers, who were working on the concept, decided to use audio-animatronics instead.

Instead of a walk-through attraction, the team also decided on a water-based ride after seeing success with “it’s a small world” at the 1964 World’s Fair. Pirates of the Caribbean opened just three months after Walt Disney’s death, making it the last Disneyland attraction he helped make.

Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World

After the success of the ride in Disneyland, a version of the attraction opened in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1973. While both the Disney World and Disneyland versions of Pirates of the Caribbean have gone through quite a few modifications over time, today, there are some major differences between the two variants. One of the biggest differences is the ride time: in Disneyland, the ride runs about 15 and a half minutes, while Disney World’s version is almost half of that at eight minutes. You can read the full list of differences (and similarities) between the two here.

Film Franchise

In 2003, Disney released the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, the movie was a huge success, spawning four sequels all the way through 2017. Due to its success, the film franchise even found its way into the rides on both coasts, with changes you’ll find to this day.

jack sparrow pirates of the caribbean disneyland

Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean. Photo by Nick Barese

In 2006, the ride was refurbished to tie into the (then) most current sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. The refurbishment brought Jack Sparrow animatronics to three individual scenes, and Captain Barbossa was added to the battle room. But, even with these newer additions, the spirit of the original ride still remains intact. And you still can’t get off the ride without getting “A Pirate’s Life for Me” stuck in your head for the remainder of the day.

Posts by Morgan Flaherty

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Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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