By D’land Diva
There are few attractions at ALL of the Disney Parks as well known or as well loved as the It’s a Small World attraction. This attraction takes guests in a boat on a trip around the world with 300 costumed Audio Animatronic and still children dolls, all set to a catchy tune called “It’s a Small World (After All).” On a warm Southern California day, there is nothing quite like a 15 minute boat ride through an air conditioned building. I suspect this might also make this attraction very popular!
The history behind It’s a Small World is an interesting one. The attraction was originally designed by Walt Disney Enterprises (or WED) back in 1964 for the New York’s World Fair. It was part of a UNICEFF exhibit. When the World Fair closed in 1966, it was re-built and altered to be put in at Disneyland park.
The attraction came together with the help of some very well known individuals at WED. Mary Blair worked on design and color. Mary was well known for her role as art director in Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. The scenes and characters in the attraction were designed by Marc Davis and his wife, Alice, designed the costumes for the dolls. Walt, himself, helped to create the dolls’ facial expressions. The Sherman Brothers wrote the theme song “It’s a Small World (After All).” The inspiration behind the song was a peaceful response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It’s a Small World at Disneyland is a 15 minute boat ride in which riders begin the ride outside, and are taken into a building and past several scenes, or rooms, of dolls singing the “It’s a Small World (After All)” song in a variety of different languages. Over 100 different regions from around the world are represented in the attraction. Some of the cultures guests will be exposed to include: Spanish, Scandinavian, Russian, Egyptian, Mexican, Hawaiian, British, Australian and the more recent addition of the American Old West. The dolls sing, move, and are dressed in a culturally appropriate costume. The design is absolutely magical, and my children have been enjoying this ride since they were the smallest of infants. It is wonderful to hear so many languages and learn just a little about so many different cultures. The theme of the attraction is to appreciate these differences, while recognizing that we are all the same no matter these differences.
In 2008 It’s a Small World underwent some major renovations. It was closed for almost a year while new dolls were added, some of the animatronics were updated, the boats were renovated (they hold 16 guests in case you were wondering) and Disney characters were added to some of the scenes. For example, Alice in Wonderland can be seen in the England scene and Woody and Jessie in the American Old West scene. Be on the lookout for more characters throughout the ride! Some folks feel that this took something away from the ride, but my kids really have enjoyed seeing the familiar faces in the ride.
Finally, it would be a shame to ignore the outside of the It’s a Small World attraction. It is a wonderful display of movement and replicas of some of the world’s famous attractions. The clock tower is the main attraction here, and this massive 30 foot tower opens every 15 minutes with an international parade of figures. Two jesters appear at the end of the parade to announce to give the current time.
If you visit Disneyland, be sure not to miss this special attraction! All ages will enjoy it. Guests with wheelchairs and scooters can transfer or use a specially equipped boat in which the wheelchair or scooter may be loaded on. This ride has a scare factor of 1. I just gave it the 1 in case you have kids that are not so happy about dark rides or going inside the building on ride ( a phase in which some kids go through).