The American theme park Disneyland has always been famous for its thrilling rides that allowed visitors to plunge into a world of fantasy and adventure. However, few people know that one of the park’s most popular rides, Pirates of the Caribbean, once used real human bones.
The history of this attraction begins in 1967, when it was built. At the time, the fake skeletons that were created for the attraction were not up to par and were considered “too lame.” That’s why, in order to create a more realistic atmosphere, the “imagineers” of the park made do with some authentic materials.
Former Disney producer Jason Sarrell, in his book Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies, revealed that the bones came from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and were real human remains.
The limitations of fake skeletons at the time also led to the decision to use the real ones in a pirate-style boat ride at Disneyland. Instead of creating realistic skeletons that were too expensive for the closet departments, real human remains were used.
Since then, technology has stepped forward, and with it has come a new era of strikingly convincing skeletal models that have replaced the remnants of the attraction’s former design. Sarrell goes on to say that the real bones have been returned to their countries of origin and buried properly.
Nevertheless, the use of human remains in various attractions and films remains a dark area of the law in the United States. Caitlin Doughty, undertaker and author of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Tiny Mortals’ Big Questions About Death, says that “no federal law prohibits the sale of human remains unless the remains belong to Native Americans.”
Nevertheless, more than 38 U.S. states have laws that are supposed to prohibit the sale of human remains, although in practice these laws are applied casually.
The use of real human bones in rides and movies may seem shocking, but it happened in the past. Today, however, thanks to new technology and realistic models, we can enjoy rides without the use of real bones.