Sunday Spotlight: Sailing Ship Columbia

One of the most beautiful sights to see at the Disneyland Resort is the Sailing Ship Columbia cruising on the Rivers of America. Since June 14, 1958 guests have been able to board this ship and explore her as she makes this cruise.

The Sailing Ship Columbia was added to the Rivers of America when Walt Disney decided that Rivers of America needed more river traffic. Upon the recommendation of Joe Fowler, it was decided that a replica of the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe should be recreated. This was the Columbia Rediviva. The challenge with this is that there was only one photo of that ship in existence. Imagineers used this photo along with research from the Library of Congress to recreate this ship.

While the original Columbia Rediviva was built in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1787 at a cost of about $50,000. The construction of the Columbia for Disneyland took place at the Todd Shipyards, Los Angeles Division, in San Pedro, California. This is where the Mark Twain was constructed a few years before. The construction was based off plans by architect Ray Wallace. Fowler informed Disney of the tradition of putting a silver dollar under each mast, so Walt Disney did this personally. The Columbia was christened by Gretchen Campbell Richmond, wife of Alfred C. Richmond, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard (1954-1962) on June 4, 1958. Fowler was dressed as an 18th-century ship’s captain for the event with the Mouseketeers were on hand to be the crew.

Since 1958, the Columbia has become a fixture on the Rivers of America. In 1964, crew’s cabins were added to the ship. Then in 1992, it has been a prominent part of the nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic! at Disneyland. Originally it portrayed Captain Hook’s pirate ship, now it plays portrays the Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

The Sailing Ship Columbia not only circumnavigated the globe, but it also discovered the Columbia River. The carved wooden figure at the bow of the ship is a woman known as “Columbia,” the Spirit of America. The flag on the stern of the Columbia carries 13 stars and stripes represent the 13 original colonies at the time the Columbia Rediviva sailed. It docks at Fowler’s Harbour, named after Joe Fowler, a retired Navy admiral, who oversaw the construction of the Columbia. During a cruise on the Rivers of America, guests experience what it was like to cruise on the Mississippi, Columbia, Potomac and Rio Grande rivers.

A trip on the Sailing Ship Columbia is a trip back in time. As it cruises around the Rivers of America, guests get a glimpse of what it was like to sail on a ship like this back in the day. Of course, they don’t have to deal with bad weather, bad food, and crummy working conditions! Thank goodness for Disney magic! It is a classic Disney attraction though that is unique to Disneyland and should be experienced by any park guest!

A Cruise Aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia

What do you think of the Sailing Ship Columbia? What’s your favorite part of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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