Capturing Magic on Dumbo the Flying Elephant














Recently, while working on a project that centered around Disney’s Dumbo movie and its attraction, I was reminded of the charm of one of the most iconic Disney rides in all the parks. In fact, it is only one of a few attractions found in each of the Disney Parks locations around the world. Because of its outdoor location (no dark ride photography issues here) and its bold circus-styled colors, it makes for a great photo opportunity. And best of all, people of any age can ride. The new upgraded dueling version of the attraction in the Magic Kingdom has breathed new life in an experience that is often thought of as a time-waster for serious headliner go-getters – long lines and fussy babes and parents aren’t necessarily the happiest in the heat of an Orlando afternoon, or the summertime in Anaheim. But take a look at this sampling for inspiration to take away great memories and photos on your next turn on Dumbo.

  • Take photos of your subjects on the ride before and/or after it is in operation. This is when the ride is stationary and the loading and unloading process is taking place. Notes: best way to avoid blur; standard photo op for this attraction; possible for bystander to take this shot while stationed outside of the attraction next to railing













  • Take photos during flight with the photographer either sitting in the ride vehicle immediately in front or in back of your subjects. This may not be an option for some guests depending on the number of people in your group and who is willing to ride, etc. But you can get some great photos from this approach! I loved this engagement photo that was featured in an article on The Knot – click on the link to see more beautifully romantic photo ops at Disney. Notes: great way to capture expressions of people as they experience the ride; unique vantage point of the surrounding area – park views from high above










  • Take photos as you do a “photo ride” – similar to doing a “photo walk.” Your purpose for a turn on the flying elephant is simply to take photos – you are determined, you have lots of ideas in your head for photos, and as a rider, you are in close proximity to the little details. So if this is an attraction you know you have the chance to ride multiple times, then snap away during one of your flights. However, if you have a child with you or you simply want to enjoy your time on the ride, then plan to take a few quick pics of yourself and the ride’s details at the beginning or the end of the flight. Notes: popular “selfie” photo op; photograph details of the vehicle’s interior – like the signage and joystick; photograph the central rotating hub and the details found on the ride itself; photograph details of the cast members uniform










  • Take photos of the ride in operation as you stand outside of the queue line, further away from the attraction. Either take photos while your family or friends are on the ride (you can try to capture them as they go by), or take photos of the ride with the focus of your photos not being who is on the ride, but the ride itself – the pachyderms flying up and down, the guests waiting in line. Notes: take shots from varying angles around the attraction; great way to attempt an isolated shot of a single flying elephant; photograph the big picture, including the overall theme of the attraction area; take photos of the attraction without having to actually ride




























  • Take photos of the ride at night. Tom and Sarah Bricker have a post on their site about the magic of the color, lights and movement on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Check it out for more photography inspiration. Notes: experience Disney magic at night; not as hot; possible views of fireworks depending on the park; fun experiementation with camera and nighttime conditions











  • Take a screen shot from video taken during the ride. I have a couple of (sometimes shaky) video clips of my kids on this ride. One in particular captures the very essence of what is so special about Dumbo – my then-three-year-old has the best, most genuine smile on his face during our ride. My older kids caught it on video as they rode in the elephant in front of us (which I had asked them to do). The camera was not the best for that type of videography, but as it is all I have of video from that trip, it will do. The screen capture…well, it is definitely not the best picture for quality. I actually did some photo editing in Picasa to soften the degree of poor quality – it is grainy, not focused well, etc. But I love it! For me and my family, I know that memory, I know his smile, and I remember how I felt that day at the Magic Kingdom. So it works for me. Notes: potential to have video and still photos from one source; utilize photo editing software to “doctor” poor quality images










  • Take advantage of the replica ride vehicle found outside of the attraction, available for photo ops. This is a great way to re-do any photos that might not have worked out during the ride, to give yourself extra shots with the Dumbo/circus theme, or to get a pic with Dumbo if you don't manage to get on the ride. Even the Disneyland website mentions this photo opportunity for the attraction, so don't pass it up. Notes: bring a black feather – aka the magic feather that helped Dumbo believe he could fly in the movie – to use as a prop for a photo taken on any of the ride vehicles; get a photo wearing mouse ears, or better yet – Dumbo mouse ears, while visiting with Dumbo – add a Mickey ice cream bar to your picture for bonus points; if you participate in the Dumbo Double Dare runDisney event in August, you should definitely get a photo at this location with your medal 






  • While many of the examples given are photos made from very talented photographers with high grade (and priced!) equipment, I hope they provide some inspiration for your next visit to the parks. I know I want to check out Dumbo on my next trip to Disneyland, which I passed by the first time I visited that park. Even if you don't have a fancy camera or lots of experience with photography, you can still get some great captures with point and shoot cameras and phones. Be sure to browse through the links below, some of which are on Instagram. See how park guests capture the magic of the flying elephant. 


Have any tips or secrets to getting a great photo on Dumbo? Anything to know about the Dumbo attraction from the Disney Parks outside of the U.S., like special views from the ride, theming, typical wait times, or other unique trivia? Any input is appreciated, so please share in the comments below – thank you!




A scrapbooker and collector since childhood and long time fan of Disney parks and media, Beth ventures into the blogging world at
Any Happy Little Thoughts where she shares her approach for preserving personal Disney stories, one memory at a time.