Behind The Disney Dragon – How They Did It

Photo by Tammy Zaninovich

Click image to watch dragon in flight.

BTS Hub wrote an article about the sighting of a real-life dragon that took place December 5th, 2012, over the Magic Kingdom during Walt Disney World’s New Fantasyland preview. The wows from the crowd could be heard on video as the mystifying Disney Dragon breathed fire, swooped over audiences, and roared.  The experience, as seen on the small screen, makes you blink your eyes in disbelief and ask… “But, how did they do that?!”

Well, here’s the answer.


According to The Bakersfield Californian and some good ol’ fashioned research, sightings of the “naked” Disney Dragon started happening over Shafter, CA – Minter Field as far back as May, 2012. Even though Disney had airport officials sign non-disclosure agreements, it only took local restaurant manager, Tammy Zaninovich, a few snaps of the camera and her photos were posted on FaceBook. So much for secrecy.

Photo by Tammy Zaninovich

Fact: The word dragon entered the English language in the early 13th century from Old French dragon, which in turn comes from Latin draconem (nominative draco) meaning “huge serpent, dragon,” from the Greek word, drakon (genitive drakontos) “serpent, giant seafish”.

Photo by Tammy Zaninovich


View more of the Disney Dragon patent below.

Roughly 2 years before photos of Minter Field testing surfaced, this winged creature could still be seen by a select few, but only in rough sketches and on paper. Patent filing of  Disney’s “Flying Entertainment Vehicle” was made on March 5th, 2010. And when the docs finally published, it was originally thought to be an Avatar-related dragon creature by Disney aficionados. Contrary to eye-witnesses postulations and internet hubbub, the parachuted apparatus that makes up most of the Disney Dragon is called a Powered Paraglider and not an Ultra-Light. The rest of this creative fantasy serpent is composed of imagination and art. As usual, Disney Imagineering at its best…again.

  • Flies
  • Wings flap
  • Mouth opens and closes
  • Tail wags
  • Breathes fire (YES!)

- Alex

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