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Ride the Ducks was a national duck tour operator and eponymous tourist attraction in some parts of the United States. It made use of amphibious vehicles, nicknamed "ducks", to provide tours of cities by boat and by land.

Ride the Ducks
FatePermanently closed
FoundedBranson, Missouri, 1977
(42 years ago)
FounderBob McDowell
ServicesDuck tours
ParentRipley Entertainment

Ride the Ducks was purchased by Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation in 2004.[1] Herschend sold a majority interest in the company to an independent investor in 2012.[1][2] The Branson operation was sold to Ripley Entertainment in December 2017.[3] In 2019 Ripley announced that Ride The Ducks in Branson would be permanently closed and replaced with another attraction.[4]


The company used custom built amphibious vehicles based on the DUKW amphibious vehicle design from World War II known as "truck ducks", while some used an original DUKW chassis extended to fit them, known as "stretch ducks". The company also used original DUKWs extended to hold more people, and as such are also "stretch ducks". All incorporated advances in marine design and safety.[5] Drivers were certified by the Coast Guard and hold commercial drivers' licenses, and all vehicles were equipped with personal flotation devices.[6] The company has also manufactured vehicles for other duck tour operators.[7]


Ride the Ducks also formerly operated in a number of additional locations across the United States:


The duck boats operated by Ride the Ducks have been involved in a number of incidents.

July 2010 accidentEdit

In July 2010, a Ride the Ducks vehicle stalled on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was struck by a barge, sinking the duck boat and killing two of the passengers, who were Hungarian tourists.[10] The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the tugboat operator's inattention to his duties.[12] The tugboat operator served a one-year sentence for “the maritime equivalent of involuntary manslaughter.”[10] Following the accident, Ride The Ducks ceased operations in Philadelphia.[13][10]

Sept 2015 accidentEdit

On September 24, 2015, a Ride the Ducks vehicle operated by an independent firm Ride the Ducks of Seattle broke an axle, crossed the center lane and crashed into a charter bus, killing five people on Seattle's Aurora Bridge. The vehicle had been purchased from the Missouri-based manufacturer, and had not undergone a recommended repair to the front axle. The Missouri firm paid a fine of US$1 million. [14] In 2019, a jury in King County found Ride the Ducks International liable for 67% of a $123,000,000 judgment stemming from the accident on the Aurora Bridge. [15]

July 2018 accidentEdit

On July 19, 2018, a Ride the Ducks vehicle capsized and sank while in Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, during high winds from nearby thunderstorms. 31 individuals were onboard, and 17 fatalities were confirmed.[16] The day following the accident, Ride the Ducks announced that the Branson operation would be "closed for business" pending an investigation and out of respect for the victims' families.[17] The boat involved was an original from World War II having been built in 1944. In 2019 Ride The Ducks announced they would be permanently shut down due to the investigation and overwhelming legal issues after the incident.[citation needed] A replacement attraction, Top Ops, opened in late summer 2019 at the same location.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Ride the Ducks | About Us". Archived from the original on November 2, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "Herschend Family Entertainment Sold a Majority Interest in Ride the Ducks > Genesis Capital". Genesis Capital. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  3. ^ "Quack Quack! Ripley Entertainment Acquires Ride the Ducks in Branson, Missouri". (Press release). Ripley Entertainment. December 12, 2017. Archived from the original on July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Church, Tim. "Branson Top Ops to replace Ride the Ducks". Branson Tri-Lakes News. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Our Equipment | About Us | Ride the Ducks". Ride the Ducks. February 26, 2009. Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  6. ^ Phillips, Bianca. "Splashdown | We Recommend". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  7. ^ "About Ride the Ducks". Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
  8. ^ Church, Tim. "Branson Top Ops to replace Ride the Ducks". Branson Tri-Lakes News. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  9. ^ Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas (July 20, 2018). "Missouri duck boat attraction closed Baltimore branch in 2009 amid worker safety concerns, unionization push". The Baltimore Sun. Baltimore. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d Nails, Katherine (July 20, 2018). "The fatal history of Philly's duck boats". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  11. ^ Rubenstein, Steve (September 9, 2015). "Ride the Ducks line waddles out of business in S.F." SFGate. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Hoye, Sarah (May 10, 2012). "Families of Philadelphia 'duck boat' victims get $15M settlement". CNN. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Krewson, Chris (October 5, 2016). "Philadelphia's 'Ride the Ducks' tour boats have abruptly shut down". Billy Penn. Philadelphia. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  14. ^ Kamb, Lewis (December 6, 2016). "Maker of Ride the Ducks vehicle in Seattle crash to pay up to $1 million". The Seattle Times.
  15. ^ "Jury finds 'Ride the Ducks' negligent in 2015 crash that killed five people". Q13 FOX. February 7, 2019.
  16. ^ "Branson duck boat tragedy: 17 dead, including 9 from one family". Springfield News-Leader. July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  17. ^ "bransonducks - Ride The Ducks Branson". Ride The Ducks Branson. Ripley Entertainment. Retrieved July 21, 2018.

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