Pirates of the Caribbean first opened its doors to those seeking adventure with salty old pirates at Disneyland Park in 1967. And it was unlike anything the world had ever seen. Conceived and developed by Disney Imagineers, the story that lies beyond the tranquil waters of the Blue Bayou became an instant classic, spawning merchandise, a music album, legions of fans, and new attraction iterations around the world.

Sharing a Legacy

Within each decade since 1967, a new and wider audience has had the opportunity to set sail through the Caribbean. One by one, Disney parks in Florida, Tokyo and Paris brought Pirates of the Caribbean into their gates. In 2003, the franchise was reimagined on film — capturing the imaginations of a whole new global audience, many of whom had never been to a Disney park. With the announcement of Shanghai Disney Resort in 2010, Imagineers were tasked with revisiting the anatomy of this quintessential Disney attraction to deliver a new, one-of-a-kind experience for a new audience.

The Past Informs the Future

Classics are classics for good reason: the stories they tell — and the way they tell them — resonate with people across cultures, geography and eras. When reimagining Pirates of the Caribbean as a modern encounter for a new audience, Imagineers looked beyond the burning town and rowdy pillagers to uncover the core elements that form the heart of Pirates attractions around the world. What we found were broad thematic elements, like adventure, mystery and hints of danger. We also recognized common narrative elements, like ghostly pirate skeletons, visual gags and the invitation to join the crew on their escapades. Pirates is all about scale; massive sets are filled with characters, props and ornamentation that combine to form evocative, visually dense and immersive environments. Beyond what’s seen, the visceral feel of the attraction is unique — the boats rock on waves and surprise waterfalls send guests plunging deeper into the story. So, with a clear vocabulary for why Pirates of The Caribbean captures our imaginations, how could Imagineers bring those core ideas to Shanghai Disneyland in a way that would be at once authentic and brand new?

Reinventing a Classic

With a new audience to entertain and a new palette of technologies to help bring the story to life, Imagineers applied the core DNA of Pirates of the Caribbean to an experience that focuses the action directly on our guests. Innovative ride vehicles conceal systems that control position, orientation and speed to give guests not just the feeling of plunging down a waterfall, but also that of being raised from the bottom of the ocean and tossed around in the wake of massive ships.

By combining this precise ride control with media-projection domes four stories tall, Imagineers control guest viewpoints and effectively extend already large set pieces infinitely into the distance. The resulting sensation is one of extreme depth and dynamism that amplifies the guest point of view without the need for 3D glasses. Advanced Audio-Animatronics® technology brings to life characters that only a few years earlier could not have existed. And sophisticated new design tools allow Imagineers to visualize scenes from a guest perspective and begin the complex integration process required of all attractions before ever building a single thing.

Staying True to a Disneyland Original

The ultimate goal of any Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is to immerse guests in a world they’ve never experienced before. So, beyond technological innovation, emotion is king. Every element — from sound and music to the ride system, and from visual effects to the smell of a cannon blast — is carefully orchestrated by Imagineers in pursuit of an emotional experience that forges a deeper level of connection to a beloved story. Just like the original from 1967, more than 50 years later and on the other side of the globe, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure is a new classic, unlike anything the world has ever seen.