Happy 50th, Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland is yo-ho-ho-ing in honor of the classic attraction's first half-century.

Let us begin by going out on a plank and say this: The bulk of major theme park rides are generally remembered for that One Big Moment, like an upside-down loop-di-loop, or a giant splash, or a final scare.

And hurrah to that; leaving an impression is no easy task in the world of fantasy-making.

But then... there's Pirates of the Caribbean, an attraction that's so atmospheric, and evocative, and mood-laden, that longtime devotees can cite the smallest details as enduring favorites: The fireflies near the ride's start. The spots on the fur of the dog, the one cheekily holding the jail key in his mouth. The smell when you first enter. 

Oh, that smell.

The dog, and the smell, and the parrots and pigs and ships and lanterns and ghostly figures have ruled the waves of Disneyland Resort for decades now, five decades to be specific, meaning millions of people have visited one of the best-known theme park must-dos in the world. And, of course, millions upon millions have seen the major movies inspired by the ride.

The low-lit, water-filled attraction is flat-out iconic, no ifs, ands, or bones about it. And it took far less than a half century to unlock that achievement.

But now we've gone and tipped our (tri-cornered) hat to what this is all about: Pirates of the Caribbean is marking its 50th anniversary on Saturday, March 18.

Do you need to know the whole yo, ho, ho before you sail for Anaheim? Because of course Disneyland is opening its proverbial treasure chest of celebratory to-dos for this party.

On March 17 and March 18 look for "pirate-themed entertainment" to bring the arrrr to the park's New Arrrrleans Square (actually, yes, New Orleans Square).

Special anniversary merchandise will also be for sale. 

And edibles will be the theme on March 16, when a number of close-by restaurants, including the Blue Bayou, French Market, and Mint Julep Bar, break out the swashbuckling sweets and eats.

Not only has Pirates, which is now pretty much called "Pirates" by legions of on-the-go park guests, become one of Disney's most famous offerings in both the theme park and film realms, but it boasts historical importance to a nostalgia-minded company that's rife with meaningful milestones.

Of note to fans? Walt Disney himself famously worked on the ride before his passing in December 1966. That gives Pirates of the Caribbean additional gravitas for buffs of Disney history, and emotion, too, as the legendary creator of Disneyland missed its debut by just a few months.

And that it is truly one of the attractions that we most associate animatronics with, a legacy that continues to be both lively and alive-ly. As in lifelike, but then you knew what we meant.

Intrigued, buccaneers of ye olde SoCal? Best steer your ship for the harbor, we mean Harbor Boulevard, in Anaheim, and the theme park that's long sat grandly upon Harbor Boulevard's western shore.

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