Pop Culture Happenings: December

Disney World finally says, “Aarrgh!,” Victory is stolen and “Titanic” brings in the bucks.


50 years ago

On Dec. 15, 1973, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction finally opened at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., much to the joy of the ride’s fans. When Disney World was first completed in 1971, it included replicas of many popular rides from Disneyland in California. However, Pirates was not included, and when fans were vocal in their disappointment, the ride was added in 1973.

On the ride, guests travel on boats through 18th-Century Louisiana Bayou waterways filled with many pirates, pirate ships and pirate booty. The attraction has gone through many changes throughout the years, including the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow, a character from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series famously played by Johnny Depp.


40 years ago

On Dec. 19, 1983, the Jules Rimet Trophy, given to winners of the World Cup soccer championship, was stolen — for the second time. The gold-plated trophy was originally named Victory and depicted Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. It was later renamed in honor of Jules Rimet, former president of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and was stolen for the first time prior to the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England. Fortunately, it was recovered by a dog named Pickles — long story — in time to be awarded to England, the tournament’s winner.

More than 20 years later, the cup was stolen again. This time, it was taken from the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro, where the cup had been awarded in perpetuity following their third title in 1970. Several of the thieves were captured, escaped and were recaptured, but none gave up the location of the trophy, which has never been recovered. A replica was made in 1984 to stand in place of the original in Brazil.


25 years ago

On Dec. 31, 1998, domestic film box office revenues topped more than $6.2 billion, thanks in large part to James Cameron’s film “Titanic,” which brought in almost $500 million on its own. Domestic grosses rose steadily throughout the next 25 years, with top earnings coming most often from the Star Wars, Harry Potter and Marvel franchises, reaching more than $11.8 billion in 2018. Numbers dipped slightly in 2019 and then suffered a devastating 81% drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only bringing in just more than $2.1 billion. Numbers have begun to climb again, and 2023 is on track to earn more than $7.4 billion, with “Barbie” bringing in the big bucks, earning more than $636 million domestically so far.