- Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0
The prototypical "family" attraction, it's a small world has absolutely nothing that should cause even the most thrill-averse riders any concern. (Although the song has the potential to cause post-traumatic stress for years--decades, even.)
- Attraction Type: Boat-conveyed "dark" ride
- Location: In Fantasyland at the five Disney parks
- it's a small world Disneyland California Photo Gallery
- it's a small world Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Florida Photo Gallery
- it's a small world Song Lyrics
Annoyingly Captivating TuneTransported to California's Disneyland in 1966, it's a small world (sic) instantly became a park highlight. Originally designed as the fair's UNICEF pavilion to help promote a message of international harmony, the charming, classic attraction, which Disney cloned for its Florida, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Paris parks, now spreads its goodwill, and its annoyingly captivating tune, to a worldwide audience.
The iconic clock tower facade, featured at all but the Florida version of it's a small world, sets the tone for the whimsical ride. (Walt Disney World rehabbed the ride in 2005 and introduced some scaled-down clock tower elements inside its loading area.) The fanciful, kinetic motion of the animated facade, which goes into overdrive to mark each hour, draws guests to the attraction.
Passengers load into the ride's boats outside, and the gentle current carries them inside and through the attraction. The never-ending tune becomes audible as soon as guests enter the show building. The ride features a series of rooms and tableaus, each depicting dolls from different countries and cultures singing along (in English, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Swedish) and bopping to the song.
Brash 60s Go-Go Look--with a Warm, Reassuring FeelUnlike the more realistic animatronic characters in Pirates of the Caribbean (which cribs it's a small world's boat conveyance system) or Haunted Mansion, there's no attempt to make the animated dolls lifelike. Their repetitive movements and limited articulation help convey a simple, childlike ambiance. The eye-popping sets, with their Day-Glo colors, also reinforce the light, sweet theme.
Walt Disney assembled a talented team and oversaw the development of the original it's a small world and its Disneyland incarnation. Illustrator and color stylist Mary Blair, whose work melded a brash 60s go-go look with a warm, reassuring feel, helped give the ride its quirky design. The composing team of Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, who wrote the songs for "Mary Poppins" and other films, penned the mind-altering tune. Among the attraction's Imagineers was Marc Davis, a legendary animator who was one of Walt's elite gang of "Nine Old Men."
Disneyland Dolls Up small world
What is immediately apparent, however, is the lustrous new sheen that permeates the ride. "We re-feathered, re-glittered, re-colored, and relit the scenes," says Kim Irvine, art director at Walt Disney Imagineering and overseer of the attraction's makeover. The Imagineer says that technologies such as advanced lighting gels and LEDs gave her team new tools to dress up it's a small world. "The colors are really vibrant and help convey the childish, innocent look of the ride."
There's no mistaking the vibrant red hair of Ariel, The Little Mermaid character who replaces a generic mermaid doll in one of the scenes. Perched alongside her pal Flounder, Ariel is perhaps the most blatant departure from the signature it's a small world look. A new America tableau, with toy-like renditions of Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye, also draws a sharp distinction from the original ride. But not so sharp that it diminishes the experience.
If anything, it's fun to ride (and re-ride) the spiffed-up attraction to pick out the new characters. Some things never change, however. It's too bad Irvine and her team wasn't able to devise a way to stop the infernal it's a small world theme song from playing on an endless loop inside the heads of guests for hours (days? weeks?) after they disembark the ride.