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Disneyland Article
The Pirates of the Caribbean's 40th Anniversary at Disneyland

Golden Horseshoe Jamboree
Gina Draker
March 18, 2007
March 18, 2007
March 18, 1967 Disneyland, Anaheim California -

The day dawned gray and drizzly, and the passing of Walt Disney was still felt sharply, yet the Press, tourist and locals turned out for Disneyland's newest Attraction - the long awaited and much anticipated "Pirates of the Caribbean". This was the first big event at Disneyland since it's founders death, and was marked with a celebratory feeling among guests and cast members and a mock raid of incoming Pirates! Among the actors who took part in the Pirate attack from the "good ship Columbia" was none other than the Golden Horseshoe's own Walley Boag. Outfitted in a long Blue coat and knee-high boots, Walley, with his trademark slapstick humor, was on hand to liven up the crowd of news reporters and guests who jostled for a better view of the Pirates. With one hand wiping the imagined rum from his mouth, another dashing pirate brandishes his sword and throws his head back in hearty laughter, while a passing pirate carries a kicking wench away over one shoulder with more laughter and her gleeful protests. The day was indeed cold and wet, but the rain was not enough to dampen the enthusiastic reviews for Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean!

March 18, 2007 dawned much like its predecessor, gray and drizzly, but the crowds in New Orlean's Square at the Pirates of the Caribbean 40th Anniversary were eager and ready for more adventures with "Salty ol' Pirates'! Bight faces in the attraction queue showed just as much excitement and anticipation as ever- if not more so!

"Forty years later and the "Pirates of the Caribbean' is just as fun as it ever was!" exclaimed one guest waiting in line.

The enthusiasm is indeed contagious. No matter how often I have ridden this Attraction, no matter the countless number of times from my childhood through adulthood, and even now with my own Daughters, every scene in the storyline - the dunking Mayor scene, the torch scene, the chasing pirate scene, or the "mangy mongrel" with the key scene - every time is filled with magic, laughter, and is too soon over! Even the guests as they exit seems to sigh with regret and a few do say aloud that they wish to actually walk among the Pirates and see them up close. The imagination is the thing, Walt would have said with pride. He also would have added that it is quality showmanship and all of his wonderful artisans who made it possible!

Although Walt Disney passed away just a mere three months before the grand opening of his new Pirate adventure, his personal direction shaped the attraction from beginning to the end. Those who worked with Walt were inspired by his driven imagination and his creative energy. Some of those very individuals who knew and worked with Walt on the " Pirates of the Caribbean" were at Disneyland to sign autographs and to meet devoted fans. Among the former Walt Disney (WED) Imagineers and Disney Legends were ~ Alice Davis, Francis "X". Atencio, Bob Gurr, Harriet Burns and Blaine Gibson.

These were the same people who helped to create many of Disneyland's classic attraction - Alice Davis was inducted a Disney Legend in 2004 and often attends special events at Disneyland and within Disneyana organizations. As she recalled her work for Walt she draws on memories of her late husband Marc Davis, who was also a primary Artist for the Pirates of the Caribbean as well as the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise and others. Alice's original designs dressed characters from the Small World to the Pirates. As Alice describes it "I went from sweet little children to dirty old men overnight."

Francis Xavier Atencio, better known as "X' Atencio, worked in both Disney's Animation and Imagineering. He refers to Walt as a "father image" and has high praise for Walt's remarkable ability to bring out the best in a person's talents and push them to the forefront. He also praised Walt's ability to tap into people's hidden talents. For instance, X Atencio didn't think he could write music, but when he wrote the famous "Yo Ho Yo Ho, A Pirates Life for Me" theme song, Walt loved it and used it as written. X also wrote the Haunted Mansion's theme "Grim Grinning Ghost", as well as writing dialogue in the Pirates, Mansion and other attractions. What is more, it is X's own voice reciting this dialogue heard in the original recordings used in these classic attractions. X Atencio's upbeat personality is vibrant and young at heart, he is indeed a Disney treasure and was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1996.

Blaine Gibson is one of my favorite Disney artists, as he is one of my own inspirational Mentors for becoming a professional Sculptor myself. The most notable, if not the most obviously viewed, sculpture that Blaine has created in later years is the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey that sits in the hub at the center of Disneyland. He started as an Animator with Walt but was entrusted to sculpt for Walt's new theme Park, Disneyland. As he recalls, he never thought it would amount to something so big. But to this day, Blaine Gibson's sculptures are the very center of Walt's Disneyland - everything from Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln - to the Pirates of the Caribbean. For his wonderful contributions, Blaine Gibson was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1993.

Inducted in 2000, Disney Legend Harriet Burns is a multi-talented lady, not to mention, one of he best dressed and beautiful - especially in the male dominated Disney model shop! Harriet not only designed but built many of the theme park prototypes and was readily called on for assistance. Because of the multiple use of some of the same sculpted heads, which were sculpted by Blaine Gibson, Harriet Burns recalled needing to alter their look by changing hair color and overall appearance so it wouldn't be too obvious. Although if one looks closely they can indeed see the resemblance between the motley crew of pirates in one or another scene. As a side-note, two of the same head molds were used in the Haunted Mansion for the pair of dueling pistol ghosts and again, look closely and you might notice a few more "cousins' to certain Pirates from next door!

If something has wheels at Disneyland, it was probably Bob Gurr who designed it! Bob Gurr is an Imagineer and a famed Disney Legend inducted in 2004. His work for Walt has expanded from the Autopia cars to over 100 attractions. Bob also helped to design the Audio-Animatronic figures which originated from Abraham Lincoln to the mechanical workings of the Pirate figures. He continues to consult for Disney and is often seen at Disney venues and special events. With his winning smile, Bob is definitely a fan favorite!

There is a signature involved in all of the original Disneyland attractions, much like the brand signature of Walt Disney himself, that marks it with that unique Disney magic. No matter how old the attraction may live to be, that certain something is undeniable. When the Disney company announced plans to refurbish the classic attraction, there was an uproar. With the phenomena of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and the fan base of Cap'n Jack Sparrow, this idea seemed to mesh the old and the new and give the attractions a more modern up-to-date feel. But for many fans however, this was like stealing Disneyland's crown jewels! With the Grand Re-opening event on June 6, 2006, the redesigned ride was not too changed overall in appearance, and the likeness and voices of the additional characters were highly praised . . .but for some it was a little too movie-based, which brings the fear that overtime it will date the attraction. For Rachel, my daughter, who was working as a Castmember and was one of the first to preview the new redesigned Pirates - as she put it: "What is missing is the point of the original storyline. The original part of the attraction's spiel is removed almost in its entirety and replaced by the monotonous "Dead men tale no tales' - where X Atencio lines should be, there is this new bit. It doesn't flow as well." Others disagree and view it as a way in keeping up with the times. But then again, the new Disney isn't always Walt's - but for this writer, it should be - and by keeping our memories alive and making new ones each visit, I think that Walt would certainly be pleased with his last personally developed attraction.

Overall the day was charming with nostalgia and remembrances. The crowds were a bit thick here and there, but everyone who turned out for the event went home happier for it. For myself and my two daughters, Rachel and Kai, we had a great time as always! In fact, like other children her age, Kai at age 5 was very impressed by meeting a "real life Pirate' who was a thoughtful Castmember and gave to her a Tinkerbell pin and one for her big sister as well. There were little gestures of kindness like this from other Castmembers throughout the day as well that was special, and even for this Disneyland local it felt like a definite celebration. And . . . like the passing of each scene within the Pirates of the Caribbean, it was over too fast! So thanks to the all the wonderful Imagineers and Disney Legends past and present, and thanks Walt for your magical imagination that was truly a God-given gift for all to enjoy. Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirates Life for me. . .
Attractions Referenced

Golden Horseshoe Jamboree

Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln

Haunted Mansion

Jungle Cruise

Pirates Of The Caribbean

Sailing Ship Columbia

Shops Referenced



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