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Good morning! This day in Disney history, March 18th, 1967: The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opened in New Orleans Square! (My personal favorite)
photo credit: CobbPR
"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!"
The Pirates of the Caribbean attractions' debut kicked off with great excitement! A swashbuckling band of buccaneers armed with pistols and cannons, led by Wally Boag, took over the Sailing Ship Columbia before bursting through the new attractions' doors with a battering ram! (pictured in the main photo of the post)
Below is a couple of fantastic videos with Walt himself talking about the development of the attraction and opening day happenings. I will warn you though, if you are watching with small children, the original Mickey Mouse costume looks a bit scary compared to todays version. If you want to fast forward to opening day footage, it starts at 7.26.
Audio-Animatronics technology had already brought to life the birds and flowers of the Enchanted Tiki Room and the children of It’s a Small World, but only one adult human figure had been attempted up to that point—President Abraham Lincoln for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Just three years later, Pirates of the Caribbean introduced the world to no fewer than 64 buccaneers, brides, and villagers—and 55 animals!
Before the art of audio-animatronics could be perfected, and with Disneys' vision being decades ahead of the technology available; several ideas for a pirate adventure were originally drawn up, including a walk-through “Rogues Gallery” wax museum. But later, Walt decided on the boat system just like the one used successfully in It’s a Small World (Thank goodness). ::lifts both arms in the air:: WEEEEEEEE!
The attraction itself is housed within two large show buildings totaling 112,826 feet and featuring 750,000 gallons of water that flow through a 1,838-foot canal.
POTC is the largest audio-animatronic project to date and the last attraction Walt Disney himself worked on extensively before his death.
All of the technology was first envisioned by Walt Disney, then created by his team of Imagineers. All the figures in the attraction are designed by Imagineer Marc Davis, Costumes were done by Alice Davis.Blaine Gibson did many of the sculptures and the lavishly detailed sets are by artist and color stylist Claude Coats.
I was able to find some rare Imagineering pictures which were reproduced in a hard to find Pirates of Caribbean brochure released in the 70's. Readers were treated with the opportunity to see Marc Davis at work...
WDI sculptor Blaine Gibson sculpting POTC figures, with the pirates heads:
Alice Davis is taking care of the "red head”:
Leota Toombs finishing the make-up on one of the pirates head...
I heard that the Walt Disney Family museum features a story about the building of the attraction. Apparently, Walt wanted to show his wife Lillian what he had been working on; but the ride was not complete and as it was a construction site, dirt was prevalent. Walt laid down floorboards to allow his wife to walk through and not get her dress dirty. A dreamer, a genius, and a gentleman. How cute!
A few facts about Pirates ye landlubbers might not know... (From the Disney parks webstie)
-The fire effects in the Burning Town scene were so realistic that prior to the attraction’s grand opening, the Anaheim Fire Chief asked that the effects automatically shut off in the event of a real fire.
-It cost $15 million to build New Orleans Square ($8 million of which was spent on Pirates of the Caribbean). This is equal to the amount the United States paid for the real New Orleans in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803! ::gasps::
-The façade of the attraction was partly inspired by the Cabildo building in Jackson Square in New Orleans, which served as the seat of the Spanish colonial government in 1799. It is also noted for being the site where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803.
Happy 47th Birthday POTC!
What do YOU think of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction? Was it money well spent? Do you have a favorite part?
Photo credit: CobbPR
Thanks so much for reading and watching! Hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!
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