It’s crazy to consider that the cherished Pirates of the Caribbean attraction has been plunging guests down and then back up a waterfall for 50 years! Pirates of the Caribbean changed the theme park attraction. It invites the guests into the story, and go into a world not like anything before.

Moderated by Michael Singer, the panel included included a crew of Imagineers who’ve worked on not just the newer attractions like the most recent Shanghai version but also the original. Insights were given by Marty Sklar, Kim Irvine, Nancy Seruto, Luc Maynard, and Orlando Ferrante.

The first question asked is why does this attraction still have the appeal today? Marty said they judge everything against the Pirates attraction. How does the other attractions hold up to Pirates? Does it tell a story?  Kim said it has an amazing musical score and it has all the senses that it’s scary and funny all at the same time. It’s an adventure that you never want to end.

Marty said the original plan for the attraction was a walk through, there were already some planed like Liberty Square, and Edison Square but when they went back to the New York World’s Fair they were able to figure out huge capacity rides. Orlando also said that the Imagineers that went to the New York World’s Fair came back with a wealth of knowledge to begin construction on Pirates. It was always a challenge but never one that they thought they couldn’t handle. Marty said, Walt trusted them to do what he wanted to do, he never doubted it. It was true that the fire department said, how are we going to figure out if there is a real fire in there.

Kim told a story on how her mom used to take things from the house to bring to the Model Shop. Bobby pins, jax’s, red high heels, they all showed up on the Pirates of the Caribbean model. That was her first time seeing the Pirates attraction.

What was it like working with an incredible group of Imagineers like Alice Davis, Blaine Gibson, Claude Coats, X. Atencio, on Pirates? Tony said he first met Claude while he was scooping ice cream and he would try and sneak any peeks he could on his breaks. His friend told him he was going to get in trouble while Tony tried to look down to see what they were working on. He then heard a voice that said “you are never going to see anything from up there” and for the next hour Marc Davis and Claude Coats personally showed him around. He was late an hour back to work but he said that was the best hour he ever had at Disneyland.

Marty said Walt wanted realism for the Pirates attraction, but Marc Davis’s drawings were more cartoonish, so Blaine had to figure out how to work between Marc and Walt. One night they were out to dinner and Marty had noticed Blaine was staring off. He said, what are you looking at? He said the chef’s hands are off for his body, I’m going to remember that for some of the characters. He then said are there other people you study? He said people from my church. So Marty asked, Blaine are there people from your church that are in the attraction? And Blaine said yes, laughing hysterically.

Michael then went down the line and asked what their roles were on Pirates of the Caribbean, and which version of the attraction they worked on. First Marty, he helped X direct talent on the voice recording for the voices. Orlando was a coordinator on the Pirate ride working with the designers and technical people. Making sure everything was meeting project demand. He said he was lucky to come into WED when he did, working with the amazing people. Tony helped bring Pirates into the new phase. He helped build the one in Disneyland Paris, where he brought back the second waterfall. He wanted people to come out saying, wow how did they do that? Kim has the huge task on caring for the attraction, keeping them fresh, doing something new when the attraction is down for rehab for a long time. She added the parrot skeleton, and redid the entire treasure scene.

Luc and Nancy has created a whole new land at Shanghai Disneyland. It represents something new and different but still brings it back to the original attraction. Luc said that most of the people in Shanghai know Pirates from the movies, than the original attraction, so it was their chance to take a gamble and do something new with the movies.  The new attraction puts you in the middle of the story and the attraction. Nancy said just the scale of the attraction was a huge challenge.

Michael then talked about the current changes that are taking place in the attractions. Some people in attendance started booing when brought up the changes. Marty said that Walt was not fazed at all from the negative press he got from the opening year of Disneyland. He would just start fixing things. He said every attraction at Disneyland has had some kind of change. It’s still the same story but brought a new dynamic to it. He appreciates that you want things to remain the same like you saw it when you were a kid, but it’s part of the tradition of Disneyland, to keep changing. He sees nothing negative from it.

This panel was absolutely educational and amazing. And the next time you ride Pirates of the Caribbean remember the amazing people that helped bring this iconic attraction to life.

More to See!

We were at the D23 Expo 2017 the entire weekend with plenty to see! Check it all out by clicking below!