Disneyland’s flying Dumbo elephants are grounded, and the reason’s kind of shady – Orange County Register

One of Disneyland’s most popular rides in history has shut down temporarily, but don’t panic: It will be back up and flying again soon, with a new and improved queue that will make life a bit better for those who stand in line for an hour at a time.

“The Dumbo elephants have packed their trunks for now,” park spokeswoman Suzi Brown joked, describing the rehabilitation efforts that started Jan. 8, which will include moving the lines to the back of the ride and installing – are you ready for this – shade canopies that have been desperately needed for decades.

One of the earliest rides built at Disneyland, Dumbo’s flight only lasts around 90 seconds, but people line up for an hour sometimes to board the popular pachyderms. The summer heat in Fantasyland, reflecting off the pavement, can get intense, and park patrons often work up a sweat waiting for their chance to board. Several of the original rides in Fantasyland have little or no shade available.

Park creator Walt Disney planned to have Dumbo ready for opening day in July 1955, but engineers had trouble making the flying elephants’ mechanical ears flap up and down as they’d hoped,  according to David Koenig, author of “Mouse Tales” and other historical books about Disneyland.

Ultimately, Disney decided to just open the ride anyway in August 1955, Koenig said. Attempts to make the ears flap up and down continued intermittently, without much success, and were eventually abandoned. Regardless, it proved wildly popular and remains so to this day, despite its relatively simple technology.

The ride was totally remodeled in 1990 with new Dumbos and mechanism, according to official Disneyland archives.

Koenig attributed its popularity to the fact that people just like the sensation of flying, and kids have the feeling of actually piloting the ride, since they can use a lever to make their Dumbo go up and down. The appeal of cute flying elephants can’t be ignored either. Today, there are Dumbo…

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