BACKSTORY (August 1955—Present): Based on the character from the 1941 animated feature, the sixteen ride vehicles are each shaped like Dumbo and mounted on articulated armatures connected to a rotating hub. Guests maneuver Dumbo up & down with a joystick. The ride itself rotates counterclockwise at a constant rate. Originally built with ten ride vehicles which were intended to represent the alcohol-induced “pink elephants” scene from the film. The working title of the attraction was “10 Pink Elephants On Parade” and the elephants were pink on installation. Disney objected, not wanting Disneyland’s guests to ride vehicles themed to a hallucination and ordered them painted gray. The original Dumbos’ ears moved, which quickly caused a number of mechanical problems. The sculptor, Chris Mueller Jr., created new casts with no hinges for movement. In 1990, a few years after the Fantasyland 1983 remodel, there was a malfunction which caused one of the arms to fail. When it dropped, the ear hit the load platform and broke off and the guests inside that particular Dumbo suffered minor injuries. Due to the potential for future arm failures caused by age and fatigue, the ride was removed. Fortunately, a sixteen-arm Dumbo was simultaneously being readied for the EuroDisney project, so it was purchased by Disneyland and another Dumbo was put on fast-track production for Paris. A circa 1915 band organ occasionally provides background music, capable of being heard more than a mile away; it is operated at only a fraction of its potential. A figure of Timothy Mouse rides atop the central hub. The figure originally held a training whip, later replaced with the magic feather. It has since been changed back to the whip. During his 1957 visit, Democratic President Harry S Truman turned down Dumbo since elephants are the symbol of the Republican Party. At the 1992 Disneyana convention, one of the original ride vehicles sold for $16,000.
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Poor Dumbo, I don’t blame him; it wasn’t his fault...it was probably mine. I have often parted company with my shoes in various ways. My 11th birthday party was the one and only time I'd ever been on Dumbo. My friends tempted me onto it, and while I was leaning over the inside edge, trying to see the arms raise and lower us, with my foot on the edge of the door (well...sort of way over) and my friend was raising us up and down like wild, then before you knew it, my foot slipped off the edge (sort of shot out into space!) and at that exact moment my penny loafer flew off, and like it had eyes, fell into the space where the gears were visible! I thought to myself, “That's not going to end well,” and my dad says when he saw a shoe flying through the air he had a bad feeling (I’ve always had weird shoe luck!). We felt a jerk on the ride, and then a grinding noise, and then a sort of bouncing, and then... we...just...stopped. I felt just like Dumbo, when he sticks his head out of the collapsed tent and waves the little flag with a “D” on it! My friend instantly screeched the news that I had broken the ride with my shoe and all the other guests on the attraction stared. I was sure I would be the only person in the world banned from Disneyland! They were actually very kind, and took us all off the ride with a little lift. My friends died laughing and an amazed ride attendant kept staring at the opening saying “Didja’ see that? How did she get it to fit in there?” I think they had it running again in just a couple of hours, but I was too embarassed to go see. My mom was totally flustered, but my dad who was used to this sort of thing by now gave me “The Look” and bought me a pair of the little pool flip-flops they used to sell since now I only had 1 shoe! Believe me, flip-flops in the 60’s are not what they are today, but were these little frail rubber pads that didn’t last half the day! Then of course my parents repeated the story to MY kids years later as a warning: “You better keep your eyes on your Mom, otherwise anything could happen.” Thanks guys! They think it’s hilarious. I tell them it’s all in good fun until someone pokes out an eye!! I’ve always kept my distance from Dumbo to this day!