The First Child to Ride Pirates of the Caribbean

The First Child to Ride Pirates of the Caribbean

Can you imagine being the first child to ride Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland? Bill Justice relates that story in his 1992 memoir. Sometimes it pays to be an Imagineer!


Bill Justice began his career at Disney’s Hyperion Studio on July 12, 1937. He stayed with the Company for 42 years and held different jobs over the ensuing years. He started as inbetweener working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and was an animator on Pinocchio.Walt pushed him into directing and a few years after Disneyland was opened, Justice was called over to Imagineering.

His talent for character animation made him a natural for programming animatronics. He programmed figures for Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, the Carousel of Progress, the Hall of Presidents, the Country Bear Jamboree and the Mickey Mouse Revue. From 1967 until his retirement, he worked exclusively for WED with a multitude of projects outside of the attractions, as well.

If you get the opportunity (and can find a copy), you should read his memoir, Justice for Disney. This book might be as rare as  Disneyland, The Nickel Tour and Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality. My copy is signed by Justice and is numbered 289 of 1000. I surmise that there were only 1000 printed. Justice passed away on February 10, 2011. The book is filled with charming and eye-opening anecdotes, such as the following about the first child to ever ride Pirates of the Caribbean.

Melissa Justice was the first child to ride on “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Roy Disney was invited to ride Pirates when the installation was completed. He brought his wife Edna and we all jumped into one of the boats and away we went. Roy loved the attraction. As we reached the unloading area he spotted my wife and daughter Misse. He invited them into the boat and we went through again. He specifically had Misse sit up front with him. I suspect he wanted to see her reaction. So my five year old daughter was the first child to see Pirates. By the way, she loved it too. (Page 79.)

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