Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean celebrates 50 years

File  A general view of atmosphere at
File A general view of atmosphere at "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" Themed "Pirates Day" at Hot Topic on May 14, 2011 in Hollywood, California.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Yo Ho! Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean opened 50 years ago today.

The attraction was the last ride Walt Disney personally supervised before his death in 1966.

Since its debut, more than 400 million riders have floated on the 1,838-foot canal enjoying pirate scenes originally inspired by Hollywood films such as “Captain Blood,” “The Sea Hawk” and “The Buccaneer.”

“It was really the culmination of everything Walt’s designers had been working up to until then,” said Robert Niles, editor of Theme Park Insider.

“It was the longest and the biggest ride. It had been the most impressive installation of Audio-Animatronics – these live talking, singing robots that Disney had developed – all tied together with a memorable themes song in a really unique setting.”

It made quite an impression then and set the standard for new attractions. The ride continues to attract people.

But Pirates today is not the same it was when it launched. The ride has undergone some changes as cultural tastes have changed.

“People didn’t want quite as accurate a depiction of just how nasty pirates were,” Niles said. “They’re not chasing the women the same way they once were. Now the women are holding platters of food so allegedly they’re chasing the food.”

Typically rides are developed from films, because their existing fan bases give rides a head start. However, Pirates of the Caribbean the ride is unusual because it spawned Disney’s popular film franchise.

The ride was updated again to incorporate Captain Jack Sparrow.

“Disney has found a way to keep the ride still feeling current and relevant to modern audiences even though it is 50 years old,” Niles said.

As part of the celebration, Disneyland is offering special merchandise, food and entertainment at the ride.