Ride the Ducks

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Ride the Ducks
Amphibious vehicle tours
Industry Tourism
Founded Branson, Missouri, 1977
(38 years ago)
Founder Bob McDowell
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Number of locations
Subsidiaries Classic Cable Car, Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing
Website www.ridetheducks.com

Ride the Ducks is a national duck tour operator, and an eponymous tourist attraction in U.S. cities such as Branson, Missouri; Newport, Kentucky; San Francisco, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Stone Mountain Park, Georgia.[1] It makes use of over 90 amphibious vehicles (nicknamed "ducks") to provide tours of cities by boat and by land. Ride the Ducks is owned by Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, which is involved in various family entertainment ventures.

Ride the Ducks of San Francisco also operates Classic Cable Car Sightseeing in which customers can take a city tour on a San Francisco Classic Cable Car. Some are original cable cars from the California Street Cable Car Line dating back to the late 19th century/early 20th century. All others were built from the ground up using the original cable car blueprints and constructed of solid oak and brass.[2]

Similar duck-boat based tours operate in other cities (such as Cincinnati, Boston, Portland, Seattle,[3] and Toronto), but are not operated by Ride the Ducks. Ride the Ducks has provided vehicles to some of these other companies, such as their relationship with Boston Duck Tours.[4]

The Ducks[edit]

The actual vehicle is based on the famous World War II DUKW amphibious design (see post-war use). Today, the company builds its vehicles from the ground up to incorporate advances in marine design and safety. Ride the Ducks now owns the rights to, and manufacturers its own amphibious vehicles.[5] In addition to equipping their vehicles with a number of safety features, including an abundance of adult- and child-sized lifejackets, duck captains are certified by the United States Coast Guard and hold commercial drivers' licenses. The captains are also fully trained in first aid and CPR. "We really put our captains through the wringer," says Claire Sewell, general manager for Memphis' Ride the Ducks. "But we think they would agree that it's worth it.[6]


Ride The Ducks logo 1986 - 1995
  • 1977 - The McDowell family launches Ride The Ducks in Branson, Missouri[1]
  • 1994 - Ride The Ducks agrees to provide vehicles to Boston Duck Tours, a relationship that continues today[1]
  • 1999 - RTD receives US Coast Guard approval for patented "Stretch Duck," an improved design over the WWII DUKW[1]
  • 2003 - Ride The Ducks of Philadelphia opens[1]
  • 2003 - Ride The Ducks of Stone Mountain Park (Georgia) opens[1]
  • 2004 - Herschend Family Entertainment purchases Ride The Ducks International[1]
  • 2006 - Ride the Ducks receives US Coast Guard approval for patented "Truck Duck," a new and modern design[1]
  • 2008 - Ride The Ducks opens in San Francisco and Newport, KY (across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio)[1]
  • 2012 - Ride The Ducks becomes an independent company[1]

Hurricane Katrina support[edit]

Ride the Ducks was the only amphibious tour operator/manufacturer to support the rescue and evacuation efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.[7] They volunteered equipment, crew, and other resources in order to help evacuate residents of the hardest-hit areas. The volunteering team was deemed "invaluable" by those involved in the rescue effort, as the DUKWs were able to safely access areas inaccessible by other means.[5]


The duck boats operated by Ride the Ducks have been involved in a number of incidents, most recently in July 2010, when an amphibious vehicle operating on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sank after being struck by a barge, killing two of the passengers on the "duck" boat. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the tugboat operator's inattention to his duties. The tugboat operator was sentenced to 366 days in federal prison.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Our Migration". Ride the Ducks. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Classic Cable Car Sightseeing and Charters | San Francisco Sightseeing Tours and Cable Car Charters". Classiccablecar.com. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  3. ^ "Fun and unique tours of Seattle! Call 206-441-DUCK!". Ride the Ducks of Seattle. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  4. ^ "About Ride the Ducks". 
  5. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Phillips, Bianca. "Splashdown | We Recommend". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  7. ^ "Ride the Ducks Philadelphia | Ducks or DUKWs". Philadelphia.ridetheducks.com. 1944-09-01. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  8. ^ "Families of Philadelphia 'duck boat' victims get $15M settlement". Cable News Network. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 

External links[edit]