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A Real Rogue’s Gallery, 1966

Walt Disney with unfinished heads from Pirates of the CaribbeanWalt Disney stops to chat with employees, 1966 (L.A. Times Photo Archive)

I don’t really have a lot to say on this one; I just really liked this photo.

It’s also especially timely because, now that I’ve been to Disneyland, I finally understand the mystique and prestige that Pirates of the Caribbean holds in the Disney theme park pantheon. I’ve known since I was a child that Disneyland’s version was “better” because it was longer, but not until I rode it this month did I realize that it’s also better because it’s better. The ride is a masterpiece and a true apex of Disney design; I had always known that but it’s another thing entirely to experience it and really internalize its greatness. I’ve always loved Florida’s version, of course, but I never really got why the attraction was such a big deal to so many people. After riding the true platonic ideal of the ride at Disneyland, it clicked.

The only problem is, Florida’s Pirates will never satisfy again.

And I am really, really craving a Monte Cristo sandwich.

Really, really badly.

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6 comments to A Real Rogue’s Gallery, 1966

  • Another Voice

    A great picture, but it is rather sad to see how old Walt appears in the picture.

    I can not believe you haven’t seen the TRUE ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ until now. Every other theme park attraction ranks second to this one (with the possible exception of Disneyland’s ‘Haunted Mansion’). Everything that Walt and his people knew about storytelling was poured into those two attractions.

    Here’s something to look for – ‘Pirates’ uses all of the basic techniques of film making. Each sequence starts with a big “wide shot” to set the scene. Then we move into a “medium” shot of several individuals that pass along the basic story information. From there, our attention is focused to “close-ups” of individuals.

    By the way, too bad you didn’t get to eat at the Blue Bayou when it was a good restaurant. It’s a shadow of its former self these days. And to complete your Disney education, you really need to get yourself to Tokyo.

  • I thought the same thing about how Walt looks in this. He aged so much in that last year that it’s shocking. I just kills me what we’d have seen had he lived longer.

    Everyone I encounter, it seems, shares your shock that I hadn’t ever been to Disneyland. Growing up in North Carolina, there just never seemed to be a point when we had the super-deluxe WDW just a car trip away. By the time I had the time, money and inclination to go, DL had been saddled with TL98 and DCA so I decided to just wait it out until things improved.

    You’re right about Tokyo, though. That’s been my real dream and obsession for years now, but I knew I had to do DL first. The only think keeping me away from Tokyo is… whaddya call it? Right, money… But as soon as I can swing it, that will be my first destination.

    As to Pirates, I was just so taken by surprise. Despite having so much in common with WDW’s, is so strangely superior. You’re right about the staging of the scenes – my favorite bit of mise-en-scene was right at the start, when you are approaching the first waterfall and start hearing the pirate spiel. There’s a little house that comes up on your left, and you expect the voice to be coming from there. But right then you turn the corner, and the pirate skull is right there talking to you. Great reveal, even though I knew what was coming.

    I’ve lots more to say in my upcoming recap, but I will mention that I think that WDW’s Mansion is superior to DL’s. Disneyland’s does have the advantage of entering through the yard and front door, which is much better staging, but the attraction itself is better in Florida – especially with the new enhancements. This is opposed to Pirates, where the additions in Florida kind of perk it up but in California totally interrupt the flow of the show.

    Do tell about Blue Bayou…

  • Another Voice

    Calling WDW “super-deluxe” is kinda like saying Wal-Mart is a better store because it’s bigger than Neiman Marcus. It should really all be about the quality…unless you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.

    With some planning, a trip to Tokyo is not that much beyond a trip to WDW. You’re trading off airfare for hotel costs. The Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay – right across the street from a monorail station (and they even have a bus to make the 45 second drive from the station to the hotel’s front door) can be had for U.S. 150 a night. That’s cheaper that the “Moderates” most time of year. A four day ‘park hopper’ ticket is $166 even at today’s horrible exchange rate. Even the prices in the parks are very comparable, although there is so much to eat and buy there. Believe me, on your first sight of the Nautilus docked inside the bubbling caldera of Vulcania you will gladly give-up ten trips to WDW to save for more visits to Tokyo Disney.

    Disneyland’s ‘Haunted Mansion’ – we’ll have to talk.

  • Uh oh – I’m going to have to get all fanboy up in here!

    The problem with Disneyland is that, as wonderful as the park is, when you’re about done with the park for the day… then what? No boat rides on the Seven Seas Lagoon, no stroll through Fort Wilderness. No evening promenade walk at World Showcase and Illuminations. It never really occurred to me how confining its situation was until I was actually there.

    And… no Peoplemover.

    It’s funny you mention the Disney Dining Plan because aside from a couple of instances, our dining situation was apocalyptic. The first night I must have walked for an hour trying to find a place that was still open (everything in the park was closed, and would have a sign directing you to another closed restaurant), and then once we found a place (at the Paradise Pier hotel) I had the actual single worst customer service experience I’ve ever had in any corner of the Disney empire. Through my rage and tears of woe and despair I tried to imagine I was at Artist’s Point.

    Your points about TDL are well-taken and intriguing. I had no idea there was such a disparity in hotel prices. Hey, now that I’ve broken the seal on Disneyland anything seems possible.

    Now about Haunted Mansion… hmm. Aside from the queue and entryway, whih are superior in Anaheim, I’m just going to have to say that the Magic Kingdom wins on this one! Foxx? You there?

  • Another Voice

    The most important flaw with California Adventure isn’t its cheesy carnival rides, its uninspired ‘theme’ or its strip mall decorations.

    It’s that Disneyland is not a destination and will never, ever, ever be a “resort”. Walt knew that, that’s why he went to Florida.

    With so much else around, Disney will never have a large enough ‘captive’ audience to support a “resort level” of dining & entertainment – a situation made all the worse by Disney going super cheap when the built their own hotels and that skid row area they call Downtown. Then the topper was to wall themselves off from the surrounding neighborhood to force a captive population. Did you even know the Garden Walk complex was right across the street on the other side of Disneyland? More than a dozen restaurants were waiting for your business. And that’s not even counting what’s within a 20 minute drive.

    The entire story of the “Resort Expansion” can be summarized by the phrase ‘greed overwhelmed common sense’.

    To change to something positive – Tokyo Disney Resort draws very few international visitors. Attendance is very dependent on the Japanese holidays and the school calendar. The hotels tend to relay heavily on conventions and business meetings to make up the slack. So if can go “out of season” and find week days with no large conventions, the rooms can be very inexpensive. Of course the Disney-brand hotels are incredible expensive, but there is some justification for it (the Hotel Mira Costa is literally inside Tokyo DisneySea).

    It’s also a matter of value. Tokyo Disneyland is like the Magic Kingdom was in the Golden Age – shiny and bright and happy and innovative and happy that you are there and everyone in the place exist only to make your day the best one possible. And eating dinner in the Main Dining room of S.S. Columbia – and having to constantly remind yourself that this is not a movie – will make the Artist Point feel like Taco Bell.

    As for the Haunted Mansion – at Disneyland you actually walk inside and through the mansion. That makes it the winner, it’s a more complete and seamless experience. Walking through the front doors and walking down the portrait hallway has far more emotionally impact than gliding past on a ride vehicle or trying to figure out what this side door enterance is doing underneath this house.

    The only problem with Disneyland’s Mansion is the load area. Were Disney to make it more like the MK’s or the Disneyland Paris version then Disneyland’s Mansion would be perfect. And all of the Mansions could be improved by using the orchestral score from Paris.

  • Disneyland is by far the more superior – simply for being the outstanding, original master plan from the Master, himself. One feels connected to Uncle Walt here in a way that no other Disney park can – not even Walt Disney World. Guests, especially true admirers, know that they are, indeed, walking in Walt’s footsteps. His genius of imagination and his creative workforce of original Imagineers took his dreams to reality – even, surpassing reality. It is how things ‘should’ be. Take an easy stroll down Disneyland Mainstreet USA and we understand this. It’s a feeling of…well, magic. Disneyland is your land. It’s history, idealism, childhood, and hope for the future. The intimacy and intelligence of Walt’s flagship park is honest, and very, very unmistakably iconic.

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