SamsDisneyDiary Episode #92 - A Pirates Life at the D23 Expo 2017

#92: A Pirates Life for Me, at the D23 Expo 2017

From the official Disney Arrchives to the Pirates of the Caribbean: 50 Years of Swashbuckling Fun panel, the D23 Expo 2017 was the place to be for pirates!

While the 50 Years of Pirates arena panel focused on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, the Disney Arrchives took the Disney Pirate connection to a whole new level, tracing Walt Disney’s love of pirates all the way back to the 1920s.  If you’re into Disney history, and pirates – The D23 Expo 2017 was the place for you!  If you didn’t make it, here are some of the highlights:

Pirates of the Caribbean open day 1967
Pirates of the Caribbean open day 1967

Pirates of the Caribbean (the attraction) premiered at Disneyland March 18, 1967 – but the history of Walt Disney and pirates can be traced long before the opening of the original Pirates attraction.    The D23 Expo Arrchives Adventure featured everything pirates.  Officially titled, “The Walt Disney Arrchives Presents: A Pirates Life for Me – Disney’s Rascals, Scoundrels and Really Bad Eggs”, the exhibit showcased everything pirates from deep in the Disney archives.

The exhibit provided an amazing amount of history and detail behind the influence of “Pirates” from Walt Disney himself to the current day.  The amount of detail and history in the exhibit could have taken a full day to discover, but with only 3 days for the entire conference, a quick walk through with “lots” of pictures (no video please) and some time to review those photos after the conference had to do.  The history is fascinating, and when you start to establish a timeline, you find some interesting cross over and historical notes.

The history of Walt Disney and Pirates can be traced to the 1920s and an early Alice Comedies. Alice Foils the Pirates.
The history of Walt Disney and Pirates can be traced to the 1920s and an early Alice Comedies. Alice Foils the Pirates.

The history of Pirates traces itself all the way back the 1920s, and the Alice comedies, “Alice Foils the Pirates” was one of the original 56 theatrically released silent Alice comedy cartoons.  In that episode, Alice is held captive by Pete on his pirate ship; Julius the Cat once again comes to the rescue.  Released in January 1927, the 42nd short in the Alice Comedies series.   Alice Foils the Pirates is listed as one of several lost Alice Comedies, no video is known to exist.

In 1934, the animated short “Mickey Mouse Shanghaied” was released, featuring Pete as a pirate.
In 1934, the animated short “Mickey Mouse Shanghaied” was released, featuring Pete as a pirate.

In 1934, the animated short “Mickey Mouse Shanghaied” was released, featuring Pete as a pirate.  Pete has captured Mickey and Minnie.  Mickey escapes as he is able to get a swordfish from the wall leading to a sword fight with Pete.   Mickey makes his way out of the cabin and onto the deck; he hoists Minnie to the top of the mast.  Even Pete’s crew is no match for Mickey as he fights them off with cannons shooting pots and pans and a harpoon to win Minnie and the ship back.

What I found most interesting about this short was the song.  The song the pirates sang at the beginning of the short.  Keep in mind, Pirates of the Caribbean the attraction didn’t open at Disneyland for another 33 years.  There is no doubt, the song at the beginning of “Mickey Mouse Shanghaied” served as inspiration for Disney Imagineer and legend, “X” Atencio, who wrote the famous “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).   The 1934 version from the short has a very similar rhythm and goes something like this… Yo Ho, Yo Ho, we sail the 7 seas, rough and tough are we.  Not a far cry at all from “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirates Life for Me!”

The Cover of Donald Duck finds Pirate Gold - Still available in reprinted form
The Cover of Donald Duck finds Pirate Gold – Still available in reprinted form

Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold is an original comic book published in 1942.  With Pete once again as the pirate, the classic was rereleased in 1989, and can still be found on amazon.

Disney’s first live action feature brought to life Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of buccaneers and buried gold to the silver screen.  “Treasure Island” remains notable for not only being the first Disney live action movie, but the first color version of Treasure Island produced.   The rich color combined with authentic locations set the stage for young Jim Hawkins and the wily, one-legged pirate Long John Silver to find the treasure.  X marks the spot.  Treasure Island was released in July 1950, and you can catch the full trailer in SamsDisneyDiary the video.

Peter Pan was released in 1953 adding Captain Hook to the growing list of Disney pirates, and starting an infatuation with mermaids.

Early Maps of New Orleans Square and Ken Anderson Pirate Drawings for the Haunted Mansion. The pirates never made it to the mansion - Or did they?
Early Maps of New Orleans Square and Ken Anderson Pirate Drawings for the Haunted Mansion. The pirates never made it to the mansion – Or did they?

The Arrrchives also featured some original Ken Anderson Haunted Mansion sketches from 1957.  The sketches focused on the action and spirit of a pirate named Captain Bartholomew Gore.  The original color pencil sketches feature some familiar concepts, but Captain Gore never made it into the Haunted Mansion.  Or did he?  In 2011, the Walt Disney World interactive grave yard added a tombstone “Bartholomew Gore”.   As part of Ken Anderson’s proposed backstory, Captain Gore married a young woman named Priscilla and murdered her after she discovered he was a bloodthirsty pirate.   In one version, Priscilla’s ghost haunted and tormented him until he finally hanged himself from the rafters. The suicide by hanging made its way into the final haunted mansion, and can be witnessed in the stretching room.  That in turn became part of the inspiration for the Ghost Host in the final attraction.

The Tomb of Bartholomew Gore as seen at Walt Disney Worlds Haunted Mansion. From early concept of a Pirate in the Mansion
The Tomb of Bartholomew Gore as seen at Walt Disney Worlds Haunted Mansion. From early concept of a Pirate in the Mansion

Could the Ghost Host actually be Captain Bartholomew Gore?   The concept art also features a pirate holding his head; that image appears to be an early hat box ghost, without the box that is.  Some of the other drawings appear to have found their way into Pirates of the Caribbean but as skeletons.

The pirate theme and Treasure Island theme continued in 1996 Muppet Treasure Island, and the story was adapted for a space adventure for 2002 Treasure Planet.

Of course, Pirates of the Caribbean charted new waters on July 9, 2003 when it made its silver screen debut.  Captain Jack Sparrow and his cunning crew pilfered the hearts of audiences worldwide with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean the Curse of the Black Pearl.   Four more films followed, continuing Jack’s uproarious adventures introducing the world to veritable rogues’ gallery of sea-faring scoundrels from Hector Barbosa to Davy Jones, Sao Feng, Blackbeard, Angelica and Salazar.    The D23 Arrrchives presented a treasure trove of models, props and costumes from each film reminding us that it takes more than just VGI to create a world filled with astonishing visuals.  Be sure to check out the full blog for lots of pictures from the archive.

Pirates for the Attraction, part of the D23 Expo Pirates ArchiveThe Arrchive exhibit contained more history and artifacts than could possibly be covered here, and that’s part of what the D23 Expo is all about!   As exciting as the archive was, it was really only the beginning of the Pirate Celebration of the 2017 D23 Expo.  The D23 Expo Arena was the stage for the day one “Pirates of the Caribbean: 50 years of Swashbuckling Adventure in Disney Parks” presentation… and any presentation that features a panel of Disney experts including legend Marty Sklar, is where I’ll be!   With my camera, and audio recorder of course this episode of SamsDisneyDiary is the full audio/video from the D23 Expo 2017 – 50 Years of Pirates in Disney Parks presentations.   Thanks for watching and Kongalush.