Rivers of America Through the Years at Disneyland Park

Erin Glover

by , Director, Publicity, Walt Disney Animation Studios

On Saturday, July 29, the Rivers of America will be filled once again with the bustling activity of their iconic boats when Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes open once again for Disneyland park guests. To mark the exciting return of these Disneyland classics, let’s take a look back at the history of the Rivers of America watercraft.

Rivers of America and Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland Park

The Rivers of America opened with Disneyland on July 17, 1955, and have continued to evolve throughout the more than 60 years since. This classic waterway takes guests on a journey along four iconic American rivers: the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Missouri and the Rio Grande. Aboard the reopened boats, guests will now discover an enhanced adventure featuring the new Columbia Gorge section, highlighted by five picturesque waterfalls.

Rivers of America Through the Years at Disneyland Park

On opening day, of course, there was just one way to travel the rivers…on board the Mark Twain Riverboat.

Rivers of America Through the Years at Disneyland Park

One year later, in 1956, the Rivers of America got busier with the addition of Indian War Canoes (now known as Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes) and Tom Sawyer Island Rafts (which took guests to the newly opened Tom Sawyer Island).

Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland Park

Then in 1958, another large watercraft joined Mark Twain Riverboat – the Sailing Ship Columbia. 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.

Rivers of America Through the Years at Disneyland Park

The next significant change to the Rivers of America came in 1966 with the addition of New Orleans Square. Now guests could take a genteel stroll along the banks of the Mississippi River (one of four sections on the waterway), enjoying live music along with a lovely view.

Rivers of America Through the Years at Disneyland Park

In 1992, the nights lit up with a fantastical journey into Mickey Mouse’s imagination when “Fantasmic!” debuted, quickly becoming a Disneyland classic. Since its reopening on July 17, the treasured Disneyland park experience guests have loved for years – complete with its original fanfare and theme song – has been wowing guests with new mist screens that combine with innovative, state-of-the-art projection technology for brighter and more vibrant visuals than ever before.

Experience the newest enhancements to the Rivers of America for yourself when we set sail once again beginning Saturday, July 29!


  • So many wonderful memories on the Rivers of America. I missed being on the waterway when I visited this spring. I’ll be back soon!!

  • Is there going to be a ceremony on Saturday for the reopening of the DLRR and the Rivers of America? If so will it be live streamed here?

  • Great post! Thanks for the quick history lesson!

  • In old pictures of the river, you can see that it was dyed a brownish color. It sold the idea that you were on “the big muddy.” It’s too bad that it’s more like a putting green now.

  • So happy to see the Mark Twain return along with the railroad! I’m counting down the days to my next visit to ride these attractions!

  • Do the Glow with the Show ears work with the new Fantasmic 2.0 Show?

  • Don’t forget the Mike Fink Keel Boats.

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