The beginning of 1967 marked the beginning of the first year in Disney history without Walt. Though he was no longer there to lead the company, Walt’s dreams lived on. At Disneyland, 1967 saw the unveiling of an attraction which has gone on to become a Disney classic, as well as, the addition of one new land and the re-imagination of another.
Prior to his death, Walt Disney worked with the imagineers to create a pirate themed attraction for his California park. The attraction, called Pirates of the Caribbean, would take guests on a swashbuckling adventure back in to time when pirates sailed the high seas. Together 68 human and 54 animal Audio Animatronics would bring the story of the Pirates of the Caribbean to life. After the success of the It’s A Small World boat ride at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, it was decided Pirates of the Caribbean, which was originally envisioned as a walk through attraction, would also be built as a boat ride. The attraction which opened in March 1967, just three months after Walt Disney’s death, was the last attraction he worked on. Take a look at the video below as Walt shares some of the making of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pirates of the Caribbean was not the only new addition to Disneyland in 1967; the area surrounding the attraction also opened as a new themed land, New Orleans Square. Including the $8 million spend on Pirates of the Caribbean, this new land cost $15 million to construct – the same amount spent on the actual Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In February 1967, the first New Orleans Square attraction, the Pirates Arcade Museum, opened. This attraction showcased a variety of pirate artifacts.
The addition of Pirates of the Caribbbean in March 1967, also brought about the addition of the Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square. This restaurant was built to fully immerse guests in the story as they dined on Cajun and Creole cuisine while overlooking the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride.
Just a few months later, in June 1967, the most exclusive restaurant in all of Disneyland opened. Club 33 also took some of its inspiration from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. After seeing the VIP lounges at the fair, Walt wanted to recreate that atmosphere at his park. He wanted a special area for visiting dignitaries and other important guests; So he enlisted artist Dorthea Redmond and set designer Emile Kuri to help design this exclusive club. Even though Club 33 did not open before Walt’s death, many of the antiques found inside were personally selected by Walt.
June of 1967 also saw the beginnings of changes for Tomorrowland. The land was one of the last to be constructed for Disneyland’s opening in 1955. Because of this, there wasn’t much time or money left to put into Tomorrowland when it was originally built. In preparation for the changes coming to Tomorrowland, the Circle Vision Theater was temporarily closed. It re-opened with the new film America The Beautiful in June 1967.
One month later, on July 2nd, the rest of the re-imagined Tomorrowland was unveiled. The total cost for the re-imaged land was $22 million, just $5 million more than the amount spend on construction of Disneyland itself in 1955. New Tomorrowland attractions included the PeopleMover, the Rocket Jets which were located on top of the PeopleMover attraction, Adventure Through Inner Space which was one of the first onmimover attractions, and Flight To The Moon.
Like several of the other Disney lands, Tomorrowland also found some inspiration from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. From the GE sponsored Progressland attraction, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress was moved across the country to Disneyland. The attraction opened at Disneyland in July 1967, along with the rest of the new Tomorrowland.
The grand re-opening of Tomorrowland was quite a sight to see. The ceremony for the occasion included Mickey Mouse dressed as an astronaut, a person flying on a real jet pack, fireworks, and many balloons. Watch the video below for a look at the new Tomorrowland and the spectacular re-opening ceremony!
The year 1967 saw the addition of Pirates of the Caribbean, a remarkable attraction which still entertains guests of all ages to this day. It also brought about the new land, New Orleans Square, which is now home to some of the most popular Disney attractions, as well as, the most exclusive Disney restaurant. 1967 also saw a much needed update to the futuristic Tomorrowland. Despite the tragedy and challenges of continuing the company without its visionary leader, 1967 proved to be a spectacular year for Walt’s original theme park, Disneyland.