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Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Turns 50
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland turned 50 years old Saturday, according to the LA Times. Its birthday serves as a permanent reminder of how everything we consume comes from pre-existing intellectual property (if you've forgotten, the fifth (!) Pirates of the Caribbean movie comes out May 26). The ride has existed for far longer than Johnny Depp's philandering, though, so Disneyland spent all weekend celebrating its legendary ride with extra music performances and appearances from Captain Jack Sparrow.
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride originally opened on March 18, 1967. Walt Disney himself died December 15, 1966, so he missed the opening of the classic ride by only a few months. Disneyland provided some trivia to the LA Times, including the impressive rider stats. Apparently over 400 million people have ridden the ride since it opened; keep in mind the population of the United States hovers around 324 million. The ride also cost $15 million to build in 1967, which translates to roughly $110 million in current day dollars.
The ride in its current state has existed since 2006, when Disneyland decided to characters from the franchise film into the ride itself (and the cyclical nature of our hyperreal cross-cultural-contamination reared its head). An LA Times op-ed from the time mourned the loss of a pre-Blockbuster version of the ride and the quainter thrill of its animatronic characters. The renovations added Captain Jack Sparrow among other characters, as well as 400,000 more gold coins. Disneyland has subsequently altered the ride to coincide with new film releases, including replacing Davy Jones with Captain Blackbeard for a few months in 2011.