The original Columbia's history was detailed in
part one of this series, and the
construction of Disneyland's version is covered
in part two.
Co-author: Preston Nirattisai
Disney knew that others possessed talents he didn't enjoy, and he relied upon
them to fulfill his dreams and ambitions. In order to make the Columbia
all that Walt envisioned, he enlisted the talents of a trusted associate: Emile
Columbia's attraction poster.
chief art director for Walt Disney Studios and Walt‘s personal interior
decorator, was known for his work designing most of the sets used in Disney's
live-action movies of the period, including the set of the Nautilus in
Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Walt put Kuri to work designing a
"set" for "below decks" on the Columbia.
Walt prepares to taste the soup as Admiral A.C. Richmond looks on while
touring Columbia's "below decks." The Admiral retired from the Coast
Guard in 1962, and appears to have donned his dress blues for this special
occasion. Photo © Disney
Kuri came up with was a veritable maritime museum below Columbia's main
deck. There was a Galley (kitchen), crew's quarters, and an elaborate Captain's
cabin at the stern, all lavishly decorated with authentic maritime equipment
Below Decks on Columbia nicely portrays, museum-like, what it was like
to serve aboard a merchantman in the 18the century. Photo
courtesy Matt Walker.
"Below Decks" is accessed through the ship's
main hatch, and the added attraction opened on February 22, 1964. Ray Wallace,
designer of the ship, was again on hand for the ceremonies. "The Columbia's
realistic below decks accurately portray the life and lot of the seaman," he
wrote at the time. When the ship was docked in Fowler's Harbor, visitors could
still board her and explore Below Decks, making the Columbia an
attraction that was "open" even when it wasn't operating!
The ship's galley. That string of garlic never seems to rot--it's been there
since the photo above with Walt Disney!