Dumbo, the Flying Elephant


In 1939, through the magic of animation, Walt Disney showed us that, miracle of all miracles, a very special elephant named Dumbo could actually fly (with the aid of a magic feather, of course). It was reasonable to assume that, if only we could somehow climb aboard our lovable pachyderm friend, perhaps we could share in his magnificent flying adventures. Years later, when Walt built his first theme park, he remarked that anything was possible at Disneyland. As it turns out, even a ride on Dumbo, the Flying Elephant.

Luckily for us, when Walt Disney built “the happiest place on earth,” he saw fit to include flying elephants with whom we could all hitch a ride and travel skyward. Located in the region of the park known as Fantasyland, Dumbo the Flying Elephant debuted shortly after opening day in 1955, to the delight of children everywhere. It has remained an extremely popular attraction ever since.

Eager aviators enter one of sixteen Dumbo vehicles – each with their own uniquely colored hat and blanket – and strap themselves tightly in as they prepare for their flight. For the youngest tykes who maybe aren’t ready to put their complete trust in Dumbo, the cars can comfortably seat one parent and a child (two adults is a bit more cramped).

Within each of the vehicles is a lever that adjusts its altitude and allows you to soar as high as your heart desires (or at least as high as the ride allows). Your circular journey lasts just under two minutes, during which you are afforded an aerial view of all the splendors of Fantasyland – from the twirling carousel, to the jaws of Monstro the Whale, to the Casey Jr. Railroad, trudging along through Storybook Land.

You travel to the music of a whimsical calliope, while Timothy the Mouse stands guard in the center of the ride, magical feather in hand (which the keen observer may note, was once a whip, until the ride was redesigned, along with the rest of Fantasyland, in 1983). Once the ride concludes, the elephants all descend back to the platform and a helpful attendant helps you exit. Of course, most kids beg for another time around.

The delighted smiles of flying children are irrefutable testimony to the magic of one of the oldest and most beloved attractions within the park. It is an experience that is often cherished by the youngest visitors, who learn that maybe a flying elephant isn’t quite as impossible as pesky reality would have them believe. For it would seem, at least to those of us with any bit of imagination, that just about anything is possible at Disneyland.

Have you ever taken a spin with Dumbo at Disneyland, Disney World or the other Disney Parks scattered around the globe? We’d love to hear your memories of this classic attraction in our comments section below.

One Response to “Dumbo, the Flying Elephant”

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