The Disney film Dumbo premiered in 1941 and was the Walt Disney Animation Studio’s fourth feature length film. Dumbo tells the story of a baby elephant with oversized ears who, with the help of his friend Timothy Q. Mouse, learns to fly. The film was one of Disney’s most successful projects of the 1940s and became an instant classic, inspiring Tim Burton’s 2019 adaptation.
The attraction Dumbo the Flying Elephant is located in Fantasyland and features 16 ride vehicles in the likeness of Dumbo. Once guests board their colorful pachyderm, the fleet of Dumbos rises and spins in a clockwise motion. Each elephant is employed with a joystick that guests can operate to fly higher or lower. The attraction, while fairly simple, has become one of the most iconic Disneyland attractions.
There is a version of this attraction at all six of the Disney parks across the globe! Each park also features an extra ride vehicle that sits outside of the queue for photo opportunities, and all but one of the rides spin counter-clockwise.
The attraction was supposed to premiere during the parks opening, but the prototypes vehicles were too heavy to fly. The original fiberglass Dumbos were around 700 pounds, 500 pounds heavier than a real baby elephant!
Despite not being ready for opening day, it is still considered to be one original Disneyland attractions. During the ‘Happiest Homecoming on Earth’ celebration, which marked the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, Dumbo was given a golden ride vehicle to signify it as an original attraction. Other rides to receive a golden ride vehicle included Peter Pan’s Flight, The Jungle Cruise, and King Arthur’s Carousel.
The original concept for the ride would have had the vehicles not be representing Dumbo, but the pink elephants from the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence from the original film. This concept was changed after Walt Disney decided it would be best that the guests not associate the family-friendly attraction with alcohol induced hallucinations.