Storybook Circus makes the Dumbo guest experience itself is much grander. And with some creativity, Imagineers transformed the old, boring, back-and-forth queue into an indoor play experience. Young guests are free to roam a thematic playground located in an air-conditioned circus tent, while adult guests hold a pager, designed to look like a circus ticket, that buzzes when it’s their family’s turn to ride.
But the good parts of the classic Dumbo experience remain: guests ride in the iconic Dumbo car, fly in the air, and steer Dumbo’s flight.
When discussing this redesign in One Little Spark!: Mickey’s 10 Commandments and The Road to Imagineering, Marty Sklar pointed out that one circle of Dumbos fly clockwise, whereas the other set spins counterclockwise. This subtle design choice makes it feel less like a duplication of an existing structure, and more like a visually fun expansion.
Guests who value the classic experience are not let down. And now, there is the added fun of Storybook Circus and a playground preceding the main attraction, along with the alleviation of long, hot, boring wait times.
Why It Matters
Disney Imagineers decided to rethink a traditional attraction, keep the classic experience in tact, and eliminate the pain points associated with it. This same line of thinking can apply when you're solving important problems, not only entertainment problems.
Imagineers faced a challenge that is similar to what many designers face when tasked with redesigning a beloved logo or software interface. (In a positive example of this, Work-Order artfully handled a 2016 redesign of the Kodak logo with lot of care toward Kodak's legacy.) There is always danger of backlash when you mess with something that people hold close to their hearts.
After the redesign, the attraction is still as enjoyable as before. It remains outdoors, providing aerial views and the anticipation that builds when guests spot the spinning Dumbos from afar. Imagineers understood the strengths of the existing experience.
But Imagineers also understood the issues that guests had been enduring (long wait times, boring queue, and hot sun) and alleviated them through a fundamental redesign of the attraction experience (doubling capacity, providing a play area, and providing an indoor space for comfortable waiting). The ultimate goal was to improve the guest experience, and this goal guided the rest.