The most popular ride at Disneyland on Saturday afternoon was the red carpet for the "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" world premiere.
It was also the longest. The red carpet was more than 1,000 feet, unrolled straight down Main Street, snaking by Fantasyland and stopping at Adventureland. But for hundreds of international TV, radio and print reporters -- not to mention several thousand fans -- there to see "Pirates" stars Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, it was disappointing.
Fans had staked out their spots on the carpet since the park opened at 6:30 a.m. But by 6:30 p.m., only a few nonfamous guests had trickled in. Since the invite stressed "pirate garb," there were more eye patches, head bandanas, gold earrings, skulls and crossbones, puffy shirts and pirate hats -- not to mention dark Jack Sparrow eyeliner -- than you could shake a sword at.
At this point, the fans were hopeful and enthusiastic. There was a pre-party with grog and grub at the Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans for the premiere guests. They would hop on the new "Pirates" ride that features characters from the film: Jack Sparrow, his nemesis Barbossa and the octopus-faced Davy Jones. Later, they would fill bleacher seats to view the film, projected on an outdoor screen around 9. But by 7:30, the fans were getting hungry and hoarse, and the press was turning surly.
"Is Johnny here?" reporters pestered the nervous Disney publicists. "Where's Keira?" "Has anyone seen Orlando?" "Will they talk to us?"
"They're here," one publicist promised. "Just be patient." So reporters started chatting up non-"Pirates" people to kill time. "Entourage" star Kevin Dillon said that wherever he goes, his fans scream, "Drama!" and "Viking Quest!"
Marilyn Manson -- dressed not like a pirate but like Marilyn Manson -- was also a hot interview once word spread down the line that he knows Depp. "He's my friend," he said. "He's a real pirate. I've got absinthe in my boots, and I'm a pirate too."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed autographs, talked to a few TV reporters and tried to ignore the smattering of loud "boos" from the crowd. At 8:30, the "Pirates" actors started showing up.
"One question! We only have time for one question!" a Disney publicist warned reporters as Knightley was ushered over.
Told she looked comely in her white chiffon Chanel frock, she wrinkled her nose and looked horrified, "Comely? I look comely? That sounds a bit rude!"
Bloom's publicist pulled him past a pack of reporters. A TV reporter shouted the same question she'd asked everyone, "Who would you like to have a pirate adventure with?" Bloom grinned and shouted, "The giant squid!"
Reporters started to break ranks, as some climbed over the metal bars and walked down the carpet to talk with Depp, surrounded by Disney publicists and uniformed security guards.
"If you have movie tickets, go take your seats," warned a stern guard. "We're taking him in. The movie has to start!" It had become a red carpet mob scene. Reporters were begging with publicists. Cameras kept flashing. Fans were screaming. And suddenly, the guards around Depp started rushing their charge down the carpet.
In just a few minutes, it was all over. Depp was gone. After waiting six hours, most reporters left empty-handed. After waiting all day, most fans got only a split-second glimpse of Depp's fedora.
The only good news was that fans can see Depp on the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride. There are three amazingly life-like Jack Sparrows: one hiding at the dunking scene, another popping up from a barrel and the third counting his treasure.
If only they'd made one that signed autographs.