In honor of the tenth anniversary of International Talk Like a Pirate Day I thought it might be fun to post something about pirates as they relate to Disney.
There’s more to Disney’s history with pirates than just Johnny Depp. In fact, Disney was involved with Pirates in the movies even before introducing them into his theme park.
Treasure Island (1950)
Adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel this live-action movie stars Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins who ends up getting caught up with the pirate Long John Silver (played by Robert Newton) as they search for the buried treasure of the buccaneer Captain Flint.
Peter Pan (1953)
Disney’s 14th animated feature based on J. M. Barrie’s story about a boy who never grew up. The fantastical film begins when the hero of Wendy, John and Michael’s bedtime stories – Peter Pan, the boy who refuses to grow up – returns to the nursery and invites them on a magical journey to Never Land. With the help of tinker Bell, his feisty sidekick, a dazzling shower of pixie dust and some happy thoughts, Peter teaches them to fly. Off they soar to an enchanted island filled with wonder and adventure. Before they know it, they’re knee-deep in a high-flying battle with swashbuckling pirates, led by Peter’s archenemy, Captain Hook – whose time is nearly up against a ticktocking crocodile.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
One of Disney’s biggest and most fondly remembered hits, the spectacular screen version of the literary classic Swiss Family Robinson is full of breathtaking South Seas scenery, hundreds of exotic animals and treacherous pirates.
This heroic tale chronicles the courageous exploits of the Robinson family after they are shipwrecked on a deserted island. Using teamwork and ingenuity, they skillfully overcome the obstacles of nature and transform their new home into a “civilized” community. But the ultimate challenge lies ahead when a band of cutthroat pirates threaten to destroy the Robinsons’ makeshift paradise.
Pirates of the Caribbean attraction (1967)
A staple at the Disney Parks, and one of my “must do” rides at Disneyland!
Pirates was one of the last attractions at Disneyland that Walt Disney himself was personally involved in the creation and development of before his passing in 1967.
Walt originally envisioned Pirates as a “walk through” wax museum. That concept was later abandoned and it was decided to make it a ride, with passengers travelling through pirate infested waters and ultimately passing through the village of Puerto Dorado on Isla Tesoro where pirates in search of treasure are terrorizing the village.
Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968)
A live action film released a year after the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opened at Disneyland.
In the moody prologue, amid a raging storm that evokes Hollywood golden-age high-seas swashbucklers, a foreboding scroll recounts the legend of one of the bloodiest pirates in the history of the Caribbean. Leave it to Disney to turn him into a fun-loving old prankster with a whimsical side. Peter Ustinov mugs shamelessly as the bombastic but harmless apparition who renounces his wicked ways to become the mischievous school spirit of the local college, much to the annoyance of straight-arrow track coach Dean Jones. Made in the heyday of Disney’s live-action family comedies, Blackbeard’s Ghost is all haphazard but high-energy slapstick and squeaky-clean romance (courtesy of contemporary schoolmarm Suzanne Pleshette) performed with more gumption than grace, but there’s a nostalgic innocence to the whole overplayed affair.
Treasure Planet (2002)
It’s Treasure Island reimagined as taking place in outer space. Even the character of Jim Hawkins still exists. If you’re interested in picking this one up, there was a 10th anniversary Blu-ray release that was put out last year.
Pirates of the Caribbean movies (2003-present)
This movie franchise was loosely based around the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at the Disney Parks. The original film (Curse of the Black Pearl) made its theatrical debut in 2003 and Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Jack Sparrow (there should be a “Captain” in there somewhere) made the fictional pirate a household name, as well as a popular Halloween costume choice.
To date, there have been four films in the franchise with rumors of a fifth and sixth being shot back to back. News surfaced last month that Depp had officially signed on for the fifth installment which is supposed to start filming in 2013.
Jake and the Never Land Pirates (2011-present)
This is Disney Junior’s flagship television series. It centers around young Jake and his friends who are pirates (not Lost Boys) in search of treasure around Never Land. Trying to prevent them are Captain Hook, Smee and Ticktock the crocodile. Captain Hook usually sees Jake and his friends doing some fun activity and steals it away from them. Jake and his friends have to then get back whatever Hook stole from them.
The series won an Annie Award for “Best Animated TV Production – Preschool” and just got picked up for a third season.
If yer savvy to do a little browsing today, I recommend checking out TellNoTales.com (an amazing Pirates tribute website run by Chef Mayhem). If you want to know more about Talk Like a Pirate Day, check out TalkLikeAPirate.com