Fowler’s Harbor is one of my favorite spots inside Disneyland. Located just across the walkway from the Haunted Mansion along the Rivers of America, it is home to the Harbor Galley restaurant and dry dock for the Sailing Ship Columbia. (Learn more about when all of the Rivers of America attractions will be reopened Summer 2017 by clicking here.)
I love Fowler’s Harbor because of its history and great quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of Disneyland. Back when Disneyland was being built, Walt Disney hired a retired Navy Admiral, Joe Fowler to be his construction boss. Mr. Fowler must have done something right considering Disneyland opened a year and a day after they broke ground to construct Walt’s dream park. In honor of Joe Fowler’s hard work, the dry dock area where the Columbia parks when not in use was name Fowler’s Harbor.
Joe Fowler led a pretty amazing life. Born 1894, he graduated second in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1917. A veteran of both world wars, Joe designed and supervised the building of gunboats, built naval aircraft carriers, and was in charge of all U.S. Navy work conducted in the West Coast shipyards during WWII. During his military career, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson.
Fowler met Walt Disney shortly after his 60th birthday and soon began is 25-year career with the Disney. He not only oversaw Disneyland’s construction, but was a technical advisor on the movie “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” In the ’60s and ’70s, Fowler took on the massive project of building Walt Disney World and at one point held the posts senior vice president for engineering and construction for Walt Disney Productions, chairman of the board of WED (Walter Elias Disney) Enterprises, and director of construction for Disney’s Buena Vista Construction Company. Fowler retired from Disney in 1978 and was named a Disney Legend in 1990, three years before he passed away at the age of 99. What an amazing life.
|This street sign is taken from Joe Fowler’s actual address.|
|Joe Fowler with Walt Disney|
While enjoying this historical area of Disneyland, guests can enjoy a quick bite from the Harbor Galley restaurant which rarely has long lines and provides guests with a peaceful place to rest and eat. It’s one of our favorite spots to stop down with the family, get a snack or full meal. The menu has changed quite a bit over the years, but reliably offers clam chowder and other soups in bread bowls, as well as delicious salads, sandwiches and kids’ menu items. Keep in mind that seating can be scarce, so if there isn’t enough room to eat, you can take your food to the dining area of the French Market (next to the Haunted Mansion) or to the Hungry Bear Restaurant, just beyond Splash Mountain.
Thank you to the blog Stuff From the Park (Matterhorn1959) for the picture of Joe Fowler and Walt Disney. This is a great blog with amazing vintage Disneyland photography!
The post has been updated since it was originally published.