History, The Daily Feed

Smithsonian Snapshot: Dumbo Flying Elephant Car

Dumbo Flying Elephant Car; Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland, the first Disney theme park and the only one created under the direction of Walt Disney, was opened to the public in Anaheim, Calif. The Dumbo car, pictured above, was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on June 9, 2005, on the occasion of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary.

The Dumbo Flying Elephant ride is an original Disneyland attraction and one of the most popular rides in the park. It features music and exciting aerial views, as well as fiberglass “elephant” cars as seen in this picture. The cars include an interactive lever that allows riders to control how high they fly. Remodeled in the 1980s, the ride was inspired by Disney’s 1941 movie, Dumbo.

The storyline of the film Dumbo is based on a 1939 children’s book written by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Perl. Animated by Bill Tytla, the movie follows the young elephant as he is separated from his mother at the circus, only to be taunted by the other animals.

Interesting little factoid: When former President Truman visited Disneyland in 1957, he chose not to ride the Dumbo Flying Elephants, as the elephant is a symbol for the Republican party.