The Columbia Rediviva was the first ship from the United States to complete a round of the world. A full-size reproduction of the ship, known as the Sailing Ship Columbia, can be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. More than half a century ago, the Columbia began its tourist business in the park. The voyage around the Rivers of America takes the passengers of the ship about a quarter of an hour. During the evening performances of the park’s nightly show, Fantasmic!, which take place on the riverfront, the Columbia transforms into a pirate ship.
When Walt Disney decided that the Rivers of America needed more river traffic and wanted another large ship to join the Mark Twain, he asked Joe Fowler, who was Disneyland’s construction supervisor and a former naval admiral, to suggest a historic sailing ship that they could model the Rivers of America attraction after. After visiting all of the maritime museums in the country, Fowler suggested that readers learn more about the Columbia Rediviva, the first American sailing ship to circumnavigate the globe. On the other hand, it is believed that only one photograph of the original vessel survives today. In order to design the Columbia, researchers from WED made use of it in conjunction with research materials from the Library of Congress.
In 1957, the architect and artist Ray Wallace was commissioned to collaborate with Fowler in the creation of the building blueprints. The initial concepts for the ship were sketched out by Ray Wallace on a napkin during a meeting to discuss the ultimate design of the ship. The hull of the Mark Twain had been constructed at Todd Shipyards, Los Angeles Division, in San Pedro, California, a few years prior. The masts, rigging, spars, and sails of the ship were all produced at the same location. After being informed by Fowler that it was a tradition to place a silver dollar under each mast before it was set, Walt Disney personally placed a silver dollar under each of the three masts of the Columbia.
On June 4, 1958, for the occasion of the ship’s christening, Fowler appeared in the role of a sailing captain from the 18th century, and the Mouseketeers played the roles of his crew. Since that time, the sailing ship Columbia has undergone a number of costly renovations; nevertheless, the only significant alteration that has taken place is the installation of the crew quarters display in 1964.
Gretchen Campbell Richmond, who is the wife of the current Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Alfred C. Richmond, christened the vessel Columbia (1954-1962).
A replica of the Columbia was supposed to be constructed at Disney World, but those plans were ultimately scrapped in favor of making a second steamboat instead.
Along with the other attractions and shows located along the Rivers of America, the Sailing Ship Columbia was temporarily shut down on January 11, 2016, in order to make way for the building of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. On July 29, 2017, the ship once again began sailing.
A protected location known as Frontier Landing can be found in Frontierland. This is where passengers wait in order to board the 34-meter-long, 110-foot-long ship that departs every 25 minutes. The waiting area for the Mark Twain Riverboat and the 84-foot-tall (26-meter) Columbia are located in the same building. At the entrance to the attraction, there is a display of historic flags of the United States.
Steps leading up to the main deck, which are often referred to as the “brow,” are used for passengers to ascend in order to board the full-size reproduction of the original sailing ship Columbia. Once guests are on board, they get the opportunity to explore a maritime museum located below deck that depicts what life was like for the crew of the 1787. There are quarters for the crew, the bosun and bosun’s mate, the first mate, the captain, and the surgeon, in addition to the galley, the pantry, the dry stores, and the sick bay.
As soon as the ship leaves port, it will start its journey along the rivers of North and South America. The ship is propelled by an engine that runs on compressed natural gas, despite the fact that it makes infrequent use of its three masts and rigging (formerly a Marine Detroit Diesel 2-stroke). It follows the same path as the Mark Twain, but the water has a green dye in it so that you can’t see it.
While the captain barks out instructions to his crew, recorded background music plays a variety of sea chanteys including “Blow the Man Down.” The captain delivers a tongue-in-cheek running commentary throughout the entire performance. A cast member from the Columbia discharges two 12-gauge blanks from one of the ship’s 10 guns as the ship passes Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island. The fort also featured a cannon that could shoot in the opposite direction.
Only on the busiest days of the park or when the Mark Twain is closed for maintenance will you be able to board the Sailing Ship Columbia. The attraction is typically open from eleven in the morning until it shuts at dusk. When Fantasmic! is being played in the evenings, the ship, which serves as a stand-in for the Black Pearl in the performance, will also be docked at dusk on certain evenings. The ship was previously used as Captain Hook’s pirate ship in earlier versions of the Fantasmic! show. When it is not in use, the ship may be found docked at Fowler’s Harbor, which is located next to the Haunted Mansion attraction.
Next Point of Interest: Don Knabe Community Regional Park