A Look Back: Sailing Ship Columbia Debuts at Disneyland Park 55 Years Ago This Week

George Savvas

by , Director, Public Relations, Disneyland Resort

Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland Park

Tomorrow, June 14, marks 55 years since the Sailing Ship Columbia first began sailing the Rivers of America at Disneyland park. The ship is an exact replica of the 18th century merchant vessel, Columbia Rediviva, the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe, and the namesake of Oregon’s Columbia River.

Sailing Ship Columbia Alongside the Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland Park in 1958

One of the earliest photos of the Columbia we have on file was taken in May 1958, alongside the Mark Twain Riverboat. If the Columbia appears to be incomplete in this photo, it is likely because portions of the 110-foot ship were pre-built in San Pedro, Calif., and then delivered to the dry dock harbor on the Rivers of America for assembly.

Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland Park

Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland Park

These rare color images show the Columbia during some of its earliest Disneyland sailings.

Disneyland park guests don’t sail around the globe aboard the Columbia, but the 12-minute journey along the Rivers of America remains as beautiful and tranquil as it has been for 55 years.


  • Also used as the Jolly Roger in Fantasmic!

  • These are awesome pictures.

  • My dear old friend, Ray Wallace was the one responsible for the design and construction of the Columbia. The Hull was constructed at Todd Shipyards in San Pedro. It is a great hull and he was a great man!

  • Oh the pontoon bridge back then… Could you imagine how many people would be jumping/falling in the water these days if it was still so wide open like that? 😀

  • Great photos! The river was so muddy looking back then. They have done a great job making the river to look the way it is now.

  • A minor correction. The Columbia Rediviva was not the first ship to circumnavigate the Earth…it was the first *American* ship to do so.

    • An important distinction — thanks for the correction, Steven.

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