Disney Parks are filled with some of the most well-known iconography to ever exist: The gleaming towers of a princess’s castle, distant peaks of a thrilling mountain, or a futuristic train on a highway in the sky. And all of these larger than life experiences are not only synonymous, but expected, with a visit to any Disney park. In some cases, however, it can be the simplest thing that resonates the most, like a particular pachyderm that flies above Fantasyland.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant opened on this date 65 years ago, missing the opening day of Disneyland by 31 days. Many fans believe that Dumbo was one of the 14 original rides of opening day, and while the attraction was scheduled to take flight on July 17th (complete with scrapped plans of elaborate ears that would flap as you spun around), opening had to wait due to time, budget, and the flawed prototype vehicles. Imagineers realized the Dumbo vehicle they designed was too heavy on it’s own to properly rotate, let alone add the weight of many guests. But this popular attraction, much like the iconic 1941 film, is elegant in its simplicity. The movie does a lot with very little in just 63 minutes, and the ride at about a minute in length, works just as well.
Excited kids with their equally excited parents and grandparents are featured in most every commercial, enjoying flying through the sky, acting out what you can expect once you book a trip. This quaint attraction clearly resonates with people all around the world as it is the only one that you can find at all six Disney Resorts. Due to its immense popularity at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, two Dumbo attractions sit side by side.
While Dumbo may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to it being considered too childish (and the potential nausea it could induce), people are still happy it exists. As a friend once put it, “Dumbo is a great attraction you don’t need to ride to enjoy; even though I‘m not a fan of it, I’m happy it’s there for us to see and people are having fun with it.” The feeling of flight as you soar with the worlds’ most famous elephant elicits a childlike smile from even the most hardened adults – The true genius of Walt indeed.