Today in Disney History, 1985: Tinker Bell’s Flight Over Magic Kingdom Begins at Walt Disney World

by | Jul 3, 2021 | Disney History, Magic Kingdom, WDW Blog

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Tinker Bell’s flight over Magic Kingdom began at Walt Disney World on July 3, 1985.

Though Tinker Bell had been flying over Disneyland since 1961, our favorite pixie didn’t make her first flight over Magic Kingdom until 1985, drawing in more than 60,000 guests for her inaugural flight. For more than 30 years, she has been dazzling guests each night.

Fantasy in the Sky

tinker bell's flight and cavalcades are two ways to see your favorite pixie

Tinker Bell’s flight is the most magical way to spot your favorite pixie, but you can also catch her in a cavalcade. Photo by Cliff Wang

When Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the fireworks show that was displayed for guests nightly at Disneyland was replicated for Walt Disney World

Fantasy in the Sky was brought over to Walt Disney World (which you may remember as the show that predated both Wishes and Happily Ever After), but as guests quickly noticed, one notable part of the performance was missing: Tinker Bell.

In Disneyland, Tinker Bell had been kicking off evening showings of Fantasy in the Sky since 1961, where she flew across the park passing Sleeping Beauty Castle from atop the Matterhorn

At Walt Disney World, however, Fantasy in the Sky opened to positive guest reviews, yet Cast Members still received more than the occasional question of where Tinker Bell was. In 1985, Imagineers revamped Fantasy in the Sky to include Tinker Bell, and she has flown most every night since

All It Takes Is a Wish

Tinker Bell in the Main Street Electrical Parade

Tinker Bell is sassy as ever in the Main Street Electrical Parade. Photo by Mike Billick

Disney Parks are known around the world for their commitment to guest service, and part of this philosophy includes taking in guest feedback. In the years following Magic Kingdom’s opening, Disney became aware of guests hoping to see Tinker Bell fly across the hub by Cinderella Castle since they knew it took place in Disneyland. 

The event was replicated before a special 4th of July version of the fireworks for the first time in 1985 to an overwhelmingly positive response from the 60,000+ guests who were in the park.

Disney had originally intended to keep Tinker Bell’s flight as a special event that would take place on certain occasions at Walt Disney World, but guests loved it so much it ended up sticking around

Since July of 1985, Tinker Bell has flown nearly every night from atop Cinderella Castle to a rooftop in Tomorrowland. Inclement weather can keep Tinker Bell’s flight from taking place, but with that one exception, guests today can expect the flight to be a nightly occurrence while visiting the park. 

Just a Little Bit of Pixie Dust

wishes nighttime spectacular, featuring tinker bell's flight

Tink has been a part of every nighttime spectacular, including Wishes. Photo by Mike Billick

It takes more than pixie dust to get Tinker Bell to soar from Cinderella Castle to Tomorrowland. It requires a Cast Member who has just the right weight and frame—small enough to be a pixie, but heavy enough to make it down the zipline

Her role in the show is also not for the faint of heart. Cinderella Castle stands at 189 feet tall, and Tinker Bell’s flight begins from the tallest point.

The space inside the spire from which Tink starts her flight is incredibly small. So small that only Tink and one other Cast Member can fit inside. Not only is her role not for those afraid of heights, but it’s also not for  those with fears of enclosed spaces. (We’d hazard a guess that Tinker Bell’s flight is more intense than most Disney attractions.)

Once she is in flight, Tinker Bell moves at a rate of about 25 to 30 miles per hour, meaning she can usually make it to her landing pad in Tomorrowland in just about 30 seconds

Cast Members playing Tinker Bell are rumored to be paid well by the Mouse. While their pay has not been confirmed, entertainment Cast Members in certain roles that are considered stunt performers receive a premium for their work. On top of this, we’ve heard that Tinker Bell also receives hazard pay and 8 hours’ worth of compensation despite her flight being so quick. 

One Cast Member portraying Tinker Bell did not retire until she was 72, so whether it’s the pay, the adrenaline rush, or simply the ability to create magic for guests from all over the world, Tinker Bell seems to love what she does.

Wishes and Happily Ever After

happily ever after at cinderella castle, featuring tinker bell's flight

Photo by Cliff Wang

The fireworks may have changed since 1971, but Tinker Bell’s flight has remained consistent

Fantasy in the Sky came to a close and was replaced by Wishes in 2003, at which point Tinker Bell continued her flight at the beginning of the fireworks as a sort of introduction of what was to come. 

When Happily Ever After debuted in 2017, Tinker Bell’s flight was moved toward the end of the show, where it is perfectly timed with the quote from Peter Pan, “You can fly.”

The finale follows Tinker Bell’s flight in the current Magic Kingdom fireworks, so even more so than in previous shows, her flight kicks off the climax of the performance and builds even more anticipation for guests of what’s to come. 


Did you know? Magic Kingdom will debut a new nighttime spectacular called Disney Enchantment on October 1st to commemorate its 50th anniversary!


What’s more, in Happily Ever After, Tinker Bell really does sprinkle pixie dust over the Magic Kingdom. It may be easy to miss with all of the fireworks, lasers, and projections, but during her flight, pixie dust really does fall over the trees around the Castle and the hub.

Happily Ever After features fireworks and Tinker Bell's flight

Photo by Laurie Sapp

If you don’t notice the pixie dust glittering atop the park’s trees during Happily Ever After, stick around for a few minutes after the show, and you should be able to see it.

Tinker Bell’s flight has been one of the most memorable experiences for Disney guests since it began in 1985. There is truly nothing like capping off a full day in the Magic Kingdom with a fireworks show complete with a classic flight by one of Disney’s most iconic characters. 

Don’t miss Tinker Bell next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom. While Fantasyland offers a nice last-minute view of the fireworks, plan to be in front of Cinderella Castle for the best possible view of Tinker Bell’s flight.


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Written by Brittany DiCologero

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Brittany DiCologero is a freelance writer specializing in Walt Disney World history, along with various travel, and lifestyle topics based in New England. She is the author of “Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Realities of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort,” and “Brittany Earns Her Ears”. When she is not writing, you can find her exploring local museums and historic sites, and binging documentaries on Disney+.
Brittany DiCologero

Written by Brittany DiCologero

Brittany DiCologero is a freelance writer specializing in Walt Disney World history, along with various travel, and lifestyle topics based in New England. She is the author of “Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Realities of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort,” and “Brittany Earns Her Ears”. When she is not writing, you can find her exploring local museums and historic sites, and binging documentaries on Disney+.
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