Today in Disney History: Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Sets Sail

by | Aug 29, 2022 | Disney History, Disneyland, Disneyland Parks

Once upon a time, the Chicken of the Sea pirate ship ruled the seas at Disneyland. Learn the tale of its tragic end…

The summer of 1955 changed the entertainment industry forever. Disneyland opened its gates to families that season, thus opening the door to over half a century of innovation. In 67 years, Disneyland and its family of theme parks have debuted attractions that have withstood the test of time, making memories for generation after generation. Others… don’t quite make the cut.

If you visited the parks as a child, you likely have buried memories from visits during the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s that feel more like fever dreams than family fun. Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour (1986 – 2006), Superstar Limo (2001 – 2002), and ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (1995 – 2003) are just a few of the rides that have been lost in time, either for underwhelming audiences, conflicting with the theming of the parks, or just having run their course.

The Chicken of the Sea is one of the many long-lost attractions whose memory has been more or less forgotten, yet fragments of evidence prove that it did, in fact, exist.

Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant

Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Disneyland DPB

Photo via Disney Parks Blog

On August 29, 1955, Disneyland debuted its newest attraction: the Chicken of the Sea. As majestic as its name, the Chicken of the Sea was a massive pirate ship that sat in a small pond placed directly past the Mad Tea Party and surrounded by the Dumbo Flying Elephants, Casey Jr. Circus Train, and the Storybook Canal Boats. The boat itself was a full-size replica of Captain Hook’s ship, following the massive success of Peter Pan just two years earlier.

The ship doubled as an exploratory attraction and a restaurant, sponsored by (you guessed it) Chicken of the Sea, the canned tuna company. Families would board the ship to enjoy a menu of tuna burgers, hot tuna pies, and tuna salad served in mini boat-shaped dishes.

Parents could sit and relax with a cold beverage while the kiddos explored the ship, making it a great spot to relax and recharge before heading off to their next ride. Adults enjoyed having a casual spot to replenish their energy, while kids loved the opportunity to run loose and act out their swashbuckling fantasies! Captain Hook and other curious characters could often be found on deck, along with Paco the Talking Parrot – a real-life parrot that children could interact with.

Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Galleon Disneyland DPB

Photo via Disney Parks Blog

In 1960, the area got a major upgrade when its shallow concrete pond was transformed into Skull Rock! Tropical foliage grew around the ship, imitating the flora and fauna of Neverland. The expansion added yet another layer of enchantment to the area and provided more seating for hungry families. In 1969, Chicken of the Sea revoked their sponsorship for the attraction. In response, Disney appropriately renamed the area “Captain Hook’s Galley”.

Disneyland Pirate Ship Demolished

After 27 years of serving families on Hook’s helm, the ship’s voyage had come to an end. The development of the 1983 “New Fantasyland” expansion, which drastically changed the layout of the park for efficiency purposes, required Captain Hook’s Galley and Skull Rock to be relocated.

Construction of Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant DPB

Photo via Disney Parks Blog

In 1982, the lagoon surrounding the Galley was drained, revealing a disappointing surprise for Imagineers. Over the years, the wood used to originally construct the ship had rotted from water damage, leaving the ship unstable. The team was quickly reminded that Disney had used concrete to fill in the areas of the ship that had been damaged by water. The concrete slab prevented the ship from being effectively moved, meaning that guests would have to say goodbye to Captain Hook’s Galley forever. 

Fans were devastated by the news, so the Imagineers on duty attempted to salvage a piece of the ship to commemorate the tuna-tastic attraction that was home to countless family memories. They delicately excavated the ornate plasterwork off of the stern of the ship to be displayed elsewhere, but during transport, the fragment fell over and shattered into a powdery plaster cloud – thus destroying any remains of the ship.

Pirate Ship Replica at Disneyland Paris

With no trace of Captain Hook’s Galley left at Disneyland, guests can only return to the spot it once occupied to reminisce (which is now home to Dumbo’s Flying Elephants). If you’re determined to replicate the treasured memories that you once made in your childhood, the best next thing can be found at Disneyland Paris. 

The European park has its very own model of Captain Hook’s pirate ship, complete with Skull Rock nearby. They don’t serve tuna burgers, so hot dogs and french fries will have to do! 

Posts by Evelyn Long

epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu
Evelyn Long is a proud University of South Florida Bull and Disneyphile. She has been going to Walt Disney World since she was a child and is now an Annual Passholder. Witnesses say she has unashamedly cried at the sight of the Magic Kingdom Rapunzel bathrooms on multiple occasions.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Evelyn Long

Evelyn Long is a proud University of South Florida Bull and Disneyphile. She has been going to Walt Disney World since she was a child and is now an Annual Passholder. Witnesses say she has unashamedly cried at the sight of the Magic Kingdom Rapunzel bathrooms on multiple occasions.
0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop