The Sailing Ship Columbia, located at the Disneyland park in Anaheim, California, is a full-scale replica of Columbia Rediviva, the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. The Columbia has entertained park visitors for over fifty years, including its twenty-four year role as Captain Hook's pirate ship, the Jolly Roger, in the park's popular nighttime show, Fantasmic!. Its passengers embark on a scenic, 12-minute journey around the Rivers of America.
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 an historic sailing ship for inspiration. After examining every maritime museum in the country, Fowler recommended the first American sailing ship to go around the world: the Columbia Rediviva. However, there is only one known picture in existence of the original vessel. WED researchers used it, along with research materials from the Library of Congress, to design the Columbia.
Architect Ray Wallace was commissioned in 1957 to work with Fowler in creating the construction plans. The ship's masts, rigging, spars and sails were constructed at Todd Shipyards, Los Angeles Division, 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 one under each of the Columbia's three masts.
For the ship’s christening on June 4, 1958, Fowler was dressed as a sailing captain of the 18th century, while the Mousketeers 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.
The Columbia was christened by Gretchen Campbell Richmond, wife of Alfred C. Richmond, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard (1954-1962).
On January 11, 2016, the Sailing Ship Columbia, along with the other attractions and shows along the Rivers of America, closed temporarily for the construction of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. The ship reopened on July 29, 2017.
Passengers wait for the 110-foot-long (34 m) ship, which departs every 25 minutes, inside a sheltered area called Frontier Landing, located in Frontierland. The waiting area the 84-foot-tall (26 m) Columbia shares with the Mark Twain Riverboat. And, historic United States flags are displayed at the attraction's entrance.
Passengers board the full-scale replica of the original sailing ship Columbia by climbing steps, also known as the "brow", up onto the main deck. Once on board, they can visit a nautical museum below deck, which shows what life was like for the 1787 crew. In addition to the galley, pantry, dry stores, and sick bay, there are quarters for the crew, bosun and bosun's mate, first mate, captain, and surgeon.
Once the ship casts off, it begins its voyage around the Rivers of America. The ship, which has three masts and rigging but rarely unfurls its sails, is powered by a compressed natural gas engine (formerly a Marine Detroit Diesel 2-stroke). It runs along the same track as the Mark Twain, hidden by green dye in the water.
The captain provides a tongue-in-cheek running commentary as he calls orders to his crew, while recorded background music plays a selection of nautical songs, such as "Blow the Man Down". As the ship passes Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island, a Columbia cast member fires two 12-gauge blanks from one of the ship's ten cannons. The Fort also had a cannon that used to fire back.
The sailing ship Columbia operates only on the park's busiest days, or when the Mark Twain is not operating. The attraction usually opens at 11am and closes at dusk. On evenings when Fantasmic! is being performed, the ship, which plays the role of the Black Pearl in the show, will also close at dusk. When the ship is not operating, it is docked at Fowler's Harbor, near the Haunted Mansion attraction.
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 park visitors looked on. A park employee was also injured. Dawson was declared brain dead two days later when his life support system was disconnected.
Current songs (all vocals): Blow the Man Down, Clear the Track (Let the Bulgine Run), One More Day, Rolling Home and Song of the Fishes.
This was followed by fabrication of the masts, rigging, spars and sails for the 106 foot pirate ship "Columbia."
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