Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hidden Gems: Real Bones on Pirates of the Caribbean

Back in 1967 when Walt Disney had hardly just passed away, Pirates of the Caribbean first set sail at Disneyland. Today, the ride has spawned a multi-billion dollar film franchise, merchandise, and even video games. But it all began with the iconic boat ride, considered by many to be the most beloved in Disneyland. But along with singing pirates and fair maidens, it once held a dark secret.

Legend has it that while the ride was still under construction, Imagineers were displeased with the false skeletons placed about the ride. They didn't look authentic enough. The solution was simple: to use real human bones. The UCLA medical school provided cadaver skeletons to Disneyland, which were positioned in the classic poses we see  today. A pair playing chess, one atop a mountain of gold coins, a dead captain with a sabre in his ribs... While this may seem grotesque, they remained for quite some time. It hasn't been officially stated exactly when the skeletons were replaced with dummies, but they were. Perhaps technology provided more realistic-looking skeletons, or some Imagineer simply couldn't stand it anymore. All we know is, when they were taking out the bones from the ride, there were a couple they didn't remove.

Although the skeleton in bed looking through a magnifying glass is no longer the remains of a deceased man, the bones on the headboard behind him are. That is a genuine skull and crossbones, and it is not known why they chose to leave it there. Love it or hate it, it certainly is a spooky Easter egg that will hopefully remind patrons of the ride's eerie history for ages to come.


  1. This is such an interesting post! Do you know which ones are real and which ones are not? Those bones on the pictures you posted are real ones?

    1. No but I know a pair of real ones when I see them. Oh, you mean the article. Bones that is.

    2. Thanks! Supposedly the skull and crossbones on the headboard are real, and the rest are artificial. If you look closely, you'll notice they're darker and more aged than the rest of the skeletons on the ride.

    3. and that wouldnt be because they want to make those look decorational instead of ghostly like the rest?

  2. These are disneyland secrets in real because I also could not distinguish the original ones from the imaginary. But I really like the abstracting look of Disney’s report here on this blog. Please release some more detail of it.