Travel Blog

D23 Expo Celebrates Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Films


From a deep-seated love of the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland (now celebrating its 50th Anniversary) came the Pirates film empire that we know today.  For many younger guests, Captain Jack Sparrow was their first Disney pirate.  If you long for the open seas…and ye come seekin’ adventure: ye be in the right place.

Come with us as we explore the Pirates films through props and costumes straight out of the Disney Archives.

A Tribute to Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

Disney pirates have only grown in popularity, thanks in part to the incredibly successful film franchise.  D23 Expo celebrated all Disney pirates in a special exhibit, showcasing treasures from the Parks and films.  Here, we will highlight the film memorabilia from “A Pirates Life for Me: Disney’s Rascals, Scoundrels, and Really Bad Eggs.”

For more details of the D23 Expo exhibit featuring the history of Disney pirate lore, and Pirates attractions from around the world, see our other article here.

This article was originally published on 

Bruckheimer’s Pirates: Bigger Than Life

Jerry Bruckheimer is known for making blockbuster films.  When he signed on for the first Pirates film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), he likely didn’t realize how big this franchise would become.

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 15, 2015: (L-R) Actor Johnny Depp, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and producer Jerry Bruckheimer of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES with President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey took part today in “Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Johnny Depp; Sean Bailey; Jerry Bruckheimer

Fast forward fourteen years, and Bruckheimer has produced four more “Pirates” films:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – Pirates Lords of the Brethren Court
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) – Angelica, Blackbeard
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) – Captain Salazar, Henry and Carina

Here, we celebrate the films, as we tour screen-used (‘hero’) props from Disney Archives.

Johnny Depp is Captain Jack Sparrow

Perhaps Johnny Depp’s most beloved film character has been Captain Jack Sparrow.  It is hard to imagine anyone else in the role.

“You are without a doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.” – James Norrington

“But you have heard of me.” – Jack Sparrow

Jack is at one moment, suave and collected. In the next moment, he is a jumbled mess of lucky happenstance.  These are all qualities that we love about Captain Jack.  Plus, the guyliner.

“Did everyone see that?  Because I will not be doing it again.” – Jack Sparrow

Here is Jack Sparrow’s costume, along with the human-bone throne from Dead Man’s Chest.

What does your heart most desire?  Perhaps one of the most recognizable props from the films: Jack’s compass tells all…

Who can forget the beating heart in Dead Man’s Chest?  Here is the chest, Davy Jones’ keys, and the jar of sand in which Captain Jack carried ‘thump thump.’  Also on display in a case: a plate with a single peanut, reportedly used by Johnny Depp.

Me Ship!  The “Black Pearl” … and more.

Bringing ships to life in Pirates required the use of many filming techniques.  A combination of green screen and soundstage sets, full-sized ships, and ‘bigiatures’ (big miniatures), were all used to create the final effects.  Blackbeard’s full-sized Queen Anne’s Revenge was docked for weeks in Hawaii.

The Disney Archives were kind enough to bring these ‘bigiatures’ to D23 Expo.

Jack Sparrow’s ship, the “Black Pearl” needs no further introduction.  This model was tall – reaching almost from floor to ceiling in the convention center exhibit hall.

These are ships from At World’s End belonging to the Pirate Lords gathering for the Brethren Court.

The Clothes Make the Man… or the Pirate

Brilliant costuming has been the rule in all the Pirates films.  Period dress has added to the story… from the British colonial uniforms, to weathered pirates’ clothing, to the barnacles on Davy Jones’ undead crew.  Here were some of the actual screen-used costumes from the films.

Remember Elizabeth Swann’s (Keira Knightley’s) wedding dress from At World’s End?  It was here, alongside Will Turner’s (Orlando Bloom’s) costume.  Of course, Jack Sparrow’s iconic costume is easily recognizable in a lineup.

“Part of the ship.  Part of the crew.”  Disheveled costume belonging to “Bootstrap Bill” – Will Turner’s father on Davy Jones’ ship, the Flying Dutchman.

Costumes from On Stranger Tides, including Angelica’s (Penelope Cruz’s) complete outfit.  Also on display: international Brethren Court pirates’ costumes from At World’s End, and British costumes (including Governor Swann’s) from the original Curse of the Black Pearl.

I really enjoyed seeing the miniature outfits that Jack (Barbossa’s monkey) wore.

Of course, Disney would not leave out the newest film, Dead Men Tell No Tales.  Captain Salazar’s (Javier Bardem’s) regalia were displayed with the costumes of Carina (Kaya Scodelario) and Henry (Brenton Thwaites).  I’ve omitted their last names to avoid spoilers.

It’s All in the Details – Props Complete the Scene

The number of film props brought in for this D23 Expo was truly remarkable.  These were some of the highlights (aside from Jack’s compass, Davy Jones’ chest, and the bone throne above).

Davy Jones’ pipe organ, as well as other barnacled set pieces from the Flying Dutchman.

Who loved the ships in bottles?  There was a huge wardrobe lined with them.  Alas, they didn’t magically float on moving water.

The Pirate’s Code, set by the Order of the Brethren….

“The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” – Hector Barbossa

Stow yer weapons: swords and flintlock pistols.  Hero props used by Orlando Bloom (far pistol and sword), and Geoffrey Rush (near set).  Also, the many swords from the Brethren Court.

World Premieres at Disneyland

Do you remember the World Premiere of the first four Pirates films at Disneyland?  We actually witnessed the red-carpet festivities (which then changed to a black carpet) for several of the films.

Breaking tradition, the newest film: Dead Men Tell No Tales, held its World Premiere at Shanghai Disneyland.  This seemed appropriate because their Pirates attraction is based entirely on the films.  (More coverage on Shanghai Disneyland here).


We hope you enjoyed this tour through the Disney Archives’ Pirates exhibit at D23 Expo.  Which was your favorite Pirates film?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales released on Digital Sept. 19th and Blu-ray / DVD on October 3rd.

Photo credits from Dead Men Tell No Tales: copyright Disney.

This article was originally published on on August 22, 2017.  See my Author Page here


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