The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland is turning 50 on Saturday — and what a ride it’s been.
The theme park plans to mark the ride’s longevity with pirate music from Lucky the Pirate and the Bootstrappers on Friday and appearances by Capt. Jack Sparrow on Saturday.
Walt Disney oversaw creation of the popular attraction but died three months before it opened.
Could Disney ever have envisioned his debauched Pirates crew as film stars half a century on? The fifth film in the series, “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” opens May 26.
Here’s some trivia provided by Disneyland that might offer insight on why Pirates still makes a splash. Yo-ho!
How many people have been on the ride?
Pirates has seen about 400 million riders since it opened in 1967 — more than the current U.S. population, which is about 324 million.
Was the attraction always designed to feature singing and crazy-muttering pirates?
No. The plan was to create a New Orleans-style market with a Pirate Wax Museum in a 70-foot basement. Good call on the rethink.
How many moving characters do you see on the ride?
There are about 120 Audio-Animatronic humans and animals.
How much did it cost to build the ride?
Disneyland spent $15 million (in 1960s money, about $110 million in today’s money) to build New Orleans Square, which houses the Blue Bayou Restaurant and the Pirates ride.
Disneyland’s facts point out the sum is about equal to what the U.S. paid for the real New Orleans in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. We got a little more bayou for the buck in that deal.
Who wrote the song that I can never get out of my head?
X Atencio, a.k.a. Francis Xavier Atencio, a Disney Imagineer wrote the script for the Pirates ride and the song “Yo-Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).” You can hear his voice on a talking skull at the beginning of the ride.
Is there any overlap between the film and the ride?
Capt. Jack Sparrow appears three times in the Pirates ride. Capt. Barbossa makes an appearance too, and visitors can see a ghostly image of Davy Jones on a waterfall.
Has the ride changed?
It was refurbished in 2006 when film characters were added. Did you notice 400,000 more faux gold coins and other items were added?
When did the Pirates ride open in other Disney parks?
Rides opened in 1973 at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.; in 1983 in Tokyo; and 1992 in Paris. Last year, an entire pirates-themed land opened at the Shanghai park.
Was Johnny Depp, who plays Capt. Jack Sparrow in the films, at the opening of the original ride?
That’s doubtful. Depp, born in Kentucky, was 4 when the ride opened.
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles TimesSix Flags Great America Disneyland