The Sailing Ship Columbia, located at Disneyland at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, is a full-scale replica of the Columbia Rediviva, the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. Its passengers embark on a scenic, 12-minute journey around the Rivers of America. The Columbia has entertained park visitors for nearly fifty years, including its continued role as a pirate ship in the nighttime show Fantasmic!
When Walt Disney decided that the Rivers of America needed more river traffic and wanted another large ship to join the Mark Twain Riverboat, he asked Joe Fowler, who was Disneyland's construction supervisor and a former naval admiral, to pick a historic sailing ship for inspiration. After examining every maritime museum in the country, Fowler recommended the first American sailing ship to circumnavigate the world: the Columbia Rediviva. However, there is only one known picture in existence of the original ship. WED researchers used it, along with research materials from the Liberty of Congress, to design the Columbia.
Architect Ray Wallace was commissioned in 1957 to work with Fowler in creating the construction plans. The ship was constructed at Todd Shipyards in San Pedro, California, where the Mark Twain's hull was built a few years earlier. After Fowler told Disney that it was customary to put a silver dollar under each mast before it was set, Disney personally put a silver dollar under each of the Columbias three masts.
For the ship's christening on June 4, 1958, Fowler was dressed as a sailing captain of the 18th century, while the Mouseketeers appeared as his crew. Since then, the Sailing Ship Columbia has had many extensive refurbishments, but the only major change has been the addition of the crew quarters exhibit in 1964.
In 1967, the Sailing Ship Columbia served a notable role in the ceremonial opening of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean. As seen in the Wonderful World of Disney's documentation of the ride's opening, the Sailing Ship Columbia was part of a performance which showed a group of pirates attacking the vessel from rowboats, throwing its crew overboard and using it as their pirate ship. They would proceed to use the ship to enter New Orleans Square, fighting off guards protecting the port and then breaking into the ride-building for Pirates of the Caribbean.
Starting in 1992, the Sailing Ship Columbia served a role in the nighttime show Fantasmic! along the Rivers of America. The ship was used to portray the Jolly Roger from Peter Pan, being captained by Hook and Smee while engaged in a fight with Peter Pan as the ship was followed by the crocodile. In 2017, the show was changed so that rather than using the Columbia to hold a Peter Pan themed segment, it would portray a segment themed to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The Columbia would become used to portray the Black Pearl being captained by Hector Barbossa whose crew is engaged with Jack Sparrow, fighting them to save Elizabeth Swann.
"Show Narration", 3:25
- "Haul Boys Haul", 2:05
- "Oh Johnny Come to Hilo", 2:30
- "Song of the Fishes", 1:41
- "Drunken Sailor", 1:51
- "A Whale of a Tail", 1:44
- "An American Frigate", 2:58
- "Blow the Man Down", 2:12
- On December 24, 1998, a cleat used to secure the ship to the dock tore loose, striking park visitors Luan Phi Dawson, 33, of Duvall, Washington and his wife in the head, as their son and grandchild and other horrified park visitors looked on. Dawson was declared brain dead two days later and died when his life support system was disconnected. A cast member was also injured.
- In Monsters, Inc., when Mike Wazowski visits a little boy's room to make him laugh, there is a Sailing Ship Columbia poster above the bookcase near the door.
- The Sailing Ship Columbia is the namesake of the Columbia Harbour House restaurant at the Magic Kingdom and appears on some of its signage.
- In Tokyo DisneySea, the steamship known as the S.S. Columbia is named for the Sailing Ship Columbia.