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Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean Featured Real Human Skeletons

Photograph by Chelms Varthoumlien. Free to use under the Unsplash License.

It sounds unbelievable, yes. But, hey, it was a different era. In 1967, when Pirates of the Caribbean first opened to the public at Disneyland, California, the majority of the skeletons and skulls on display were real.

Hoping to avoid the unconvincing look of 1960s fakes, Disneyland’s perfectionist Imagineers procured a bunch of genuine human remains from the nearby UCLA Medical Center and placed them at various points along the new ride. Over time, these were removed in favor of increasingly realistic (and easy to clean) fake skeletons — until, eventually, none of the originals were left.

How far was Walt Disney prepared to go in search of top-notch theming? That far. Brings a new meaning to the phrase, “Dead men tell no tales.”

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