It's a Small World
||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (October 2011)|
|It's a Small World|
It's a Small World at Disneyland in 1983
|Attraction type||Dark boat ride|
|Designer||WED Enterprises/Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Theme||World peace and unity|
|Music||"It's a Small World", written by the Sherman Brothers|
|Riders per vehicle||16|
|Riders per row||4|
|Propulsion method||Water jets, electric turbine|
It's a Small World (stylized as "it's a small world" by The Walt Disney Company) is a popular musical boat ride located in the Fantasyland area at each of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide: Disneyland Park in California, the Magic Kingdom (in Florida), Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. The ride features over 300 brightly costumed audio-animatronic dolls in the style of children of the world, frolicking in a spirit of international unity, and singing the attraction's title song, which has a theme of global peace.
It's a Small World was created by WED Enterprises as the 1964 New York World's Fair's UNICEF pavilion sponsored by Pepsi. It featured a kinetic sculpture, The Tower of the Four Winds, a 120-foot perpetually spinning mobile created by WED designer Rolly Crump, at its entrance. It was one of four attractions (Magic Skyway [Ford], Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln [Illinois], and The Carousel of Progress [GE]) which were used by Disney to test concepts and ride systems, then moved and re-built at Disneyland after the World's Fair closed in 1966. The company was given only 11 months time to create and build the ride.
Mary Blair was responsible for the attraction's whimsical design and color styling. Blair had been an art director on several Disney animated features (including Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland, and Peter Pan). Like many Disneyland attractions, scenes and characters were designed by Marc Davis, while his wife, Alice Davis, designed the costumes for the dolls. Rolly Crump designed the toys and other supplemental figures on display. The animated dolls were designed and sculpted by Blaine Gibson. Walt was personally involved with Gibson's development of the dolls' facial design (each animated doll face is completely identical in shape, hence the name "It's a Small World").
"Children of the World" was the working title of the attraction. Its tentative soundtrack featured the national anthems of the countries represented throughout the ride all playing all at once, which resulted in a cacophonous noise. Walt showed a scale model of the attraction to his staff songwriters Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, saying, "I need one song that can be easily translated into many languages and be played as a round." The Sherman Brothers then wrote "It's a small world (after all)" in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which influenced the song's message of peace and brotherhood. When they first presented it to Walt, they played it as a slow ballad. Walt requested something more cheerful, so they sped up the tempo and sang in counterpoint. Walt was so delighted with the final result that he renamed the attraction "it's a small world" after the Sherman Brothers' song.
It is argued that this song is the single most performed and most translated piece of music on Earth. The song can be heard worldwide on musical devices ranging from keyboard demos to ice cream trucks.
Global installations 
1964 New York World's Fair 
The first incarnation of PEPSI Present's Walt Disney's "It's a small world" — a Salute to UNICEF and the World's Children was an afterthought which nearly didn't happen. The Ford Motor Co. and General Electric had engaged Disney to create their pavilions for the 1964 New York World's Fair. WED Enterprises was already at work designing audio-animatronics "doll" fashioned as Abraham Lincoln when the State of Illinois approached Walt to create the Illinois Pavilion, representatives of the state instantly approved after being "introduced" to the robotic figurehead. A CircleVision 360° exhibit was also in planning when Pepsi approached Walt late in the game with a plan to tribute UNICEF. "Disney seemed to be the showman to give us the package we want ... He's terrific. He's got his hands in more bowls than anyone I've ever seen, but he accomplishes what he sets out to do." — J.G. Mullaly, Ford's World's Fair program manager.
April 22, 1964 — opening day.
- "A salute to the children of the world, designed by Walt Disney, presents animated figures frolicking in miniature settings of many lands. Visitors are carried past the scenes in small boats. In an adjoining building Pepsi sponsors exhibits by the U.S. Committee for the United Nations Children's Fund. Above the pavilion rises the 120-foot Tower of the Four Winds, a fanciful creation of coloured shapes that dance and twist in the breeze." — 1965 Official Guide Book to the New York World's Fair
The attraction was incredibly successful. Ten-million 60¢ and 95¢ tickets for children and adults were collected hand over fist in two half-year seasons and the proceeds were donated to UNICEF. While other attractions had lines out the doors, there seemed to always be a welcoming seat available aboard "It's a Small World." The phenomenal "people-eater" function of numerous voyagers per hour cruise capacity was recognized as a valuable innovation which was incorporated indirectly and directly into future attractions. Pirates of the Caribbean had been under construction at Disneyland as a subterranean walk-through. That design was scrapped as concrete was broken out so similar boats could sail pretend buccaneers past scenes which were different each voyage, another epiphany which forever influenced attraction design and popularity.
The layout of the attraction area featured a large show building which housed the boat ride. In front of the building stood the "Tower of the Four Winds," a 120-foot tall kinetic structure designed by Rolly Crump. The tower, with its many propellers, vanes and other moving parts, was a landmark at the World's Fair. The tower was discarded after the fair closed.
The boats enter the show building through a tunnel under the Small World clock and emerge from the ride fifteen minutes later. The show building interior is surprisingly larger than the façade. Voyagers see animatronic dolls in traditional local costumes singing "it's a small world (after all)" together, each in their native language. Boats carry voyagers as they visit the regions of the world:
- The Hello/Title Room greets visiting guests a two dimensional cutout decoupage representing a boat carrying children of all nations support the title banner and surrounded by many cultural greetings from around the world.
- The Arctic/North Pole features dolls representing Scandinavia and Canada singing "It's a Small World (after all)" in Swedish.
- Europe has the English dolls sing with a Cockney accent, French, Italians, and a yodeler represents Switzerland.
- Asia has dolls representing Thailand with Ramwong folkdancing, Korea with traditional percussion performance named Samulnori and fan dancing named Buchaechum, China with royal pavilion, Japan with Shinto shrine, and then sung in Japanese.
- Africa has the rhythm of the song marked with drums and then sung in English.
- Latin America has the song sung in Spanish.
- South Seas has the song sung by mermaids (previously with an underwater gurgling sound, until the 2009 renovation) in the first section of the room, a rainforest scene with native drummers, and a Polynesian steel drum version of the song throughout the rest of the room.
- North America has dolls representing the United States and the song sung in English. (Until the 2009 renovation, the North America Room housed the rainforest scene).
- The Finale Room, a white carnival or festival, has representatives from all the cultures of the world dressed in white versions of their native costumes and singing in English in unison. (Before the refurbishment, a cowboy and Native American standing together were the only dolls during the voyage that represented the United States.)
- The Goodbye room features brightly painted three dimensional cut-outs representing stamps, airmail envelopes and postcards.
- Voyagers proceed emerge from the show building from beneath the Small World clock and proceed in a curve through fanciful landscaping featuring topiary representing animals such as dolphins and moose to the twin embark/disembark dock.
Other Disney park installations wind the flume around one large room, emphasizing its theme that the world is small and interconnected. Each installation may vary the countries which are represented and the order in which they appear.
- The Scandinavian dolls are in the Europe room.
- In Paris, the song is also sung in French, German, and Arabic.
- Hong Kong begins with a separate Arctic room, the rainforest scene in the South America Room, the song is also sung in Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin and Tagalog.
The Tower of the Four Winds was not relocated to Disneyland's "It's a Small World" after the New York World's Fair: taking its place is a large, three-dimensional facade with stylized cutout turrets, towers and minarets which are vaguely reminiscent of world landmarks (such as the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.) The facade was designed by Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump who was inspired by Mary Blair's styling. Walt Disney asked Rolly to design a large 30-foot clock, a central feature of the exterior facade with a smiling face that rocks back and forth to a ticking sound.
A parade of wooden dolls in native culture costumes dance out from doors at the base of the Small World clock to an instrumental toy soldier version of "It's a small world (after all)" in preparation for each quarter hour, reminiscent of a Black Forest cuckoo clock. As the last doll returns into the clock, the parade doors close and the large central pair of doors open to reveal two giant toy blocks—the large block displays highly stylized numerals of the hour, the small one displays the minutes, while large and small bells toll indicating the hours and minute.
The exterior has been slightly repainted over the years, first as all-white with a gold/silver trim, then in various shades of blue, then in pink and white with pastel accents. Portions of the left side of the original facade were removed in 1993 to make room for the entrance to Mickey's Toontown. Currently, the facade is white with a gold trim as it was in 1966, except the original gold and silver paint of the clock, the smiling clock face, is now entirely gold leaf. The gardens around the building are decorated with topiary animals.
During the 2005–2006 holiday season a sophisticated, elaborate, multi-media presentation was projected upon the outdoor façade which registered colored patterns matched to the façade each quarter hour after dusk. Guests were encouraged to view the popular Remember... Dreams Come True fireworks presentation from the "It's a small world" Mall and nearby parade viewing platform built for "Light Magic" (which had included a smoking area, now re-located under the Monorail track between the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Autopia) to decrease overwhelming crowds gathered for viewing the fireworks spectacular in Plaza (hub) and Main Street.
Refurbishment with new dolls 
Disneyland's It's a small world was closed from January to November 2008 (reopening in holiday version) to receive a major refurbishment. The building's structure was improved, permanent attachments created for the "It's a small world – happy holiday" overlay, the waterflume replaced and propulsion upgraded to electric water jet turbines, and the attraction's aging fiberglass boats redesigned in durable plastic. The refurbishment added 30 new Disney characters each in their native land, such as Pinocchio in Italy, Mulan and Mushu in China, Aladdin, Jasmine, and Abu in the Middle East, Cinderella in France, Simba, Pumbaa and Timon in Africa, and England hosting Alice, the White Rabbit, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. The former New Guinea Room was transformed to North America with Woody, Jessie and Bullseye, and in the South Seas room is Ariel, Flounder, Dori, Marlin, Lilo and Stitch. The scenes, figures, props, and set pieces of New Guinea were then added to the end of the South Seas Room.
Sylvania has agreed to a twelve year sponsorship and created a new marquee for the attraction.
The Magic, the Memories and You 
As part of Disney's "Let the Memories Begin" campaign for 2011, a nighttime projection show premiered at Disneyland's "It's a Small World" in Anaheim on January 27, 2011. The Magic, the Memories and You show projected sequences of classic Disney attractions and characters set to Disney music onto the exterior façade of "It's a Small World" to fill its architectural features, personalized with exclusive photographs and videos of park guests taken that day by Disney's PhotoPass cast members. The show also existed in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, being projected onto Cinderella Castle. As the "Let the Memories Begin" campaign draws to a close, the show ended its run on Labor Day, September 3, 2012 at both locations. The Florida version was eventually replaced by Celebrate the Magic.
Magic Kingdom 
- The Goodbye Room, which at Disneyland shows different postcards and parting phrases from around the world, instead displays parting phrases written on highly stylized flowers.
- The attraction underwent a major refurbishment from May 2004 to March 2005, reopening with a state-of-the-art sound system, new lighting effects, and an enclosed loading area similar to the attraction's façade at Disneyland.
- The three-dimensional facade seen outdoors in the other Disney parks is located inside the loading area of Walt Disney World's version. The clock is also similar, but does not have the parade of wooden dolls, and just immediately opens the large central doors to display the time.
- In September 2010 until October 21, 2010, this Walt Disney World attraction was again closed for refurbishment.
Tokyo Disneyland 
The Tokyo Disneyland version of the attraction is a carbon copy of the Magic Kingdom version except for these differences:
- The finale is sung in Japanese with Japanese children voicing the dolls
- The Goodbye Room is much shorter
- It has a façade that more reflects its California counterpart.
Disneyland Paris 
In Disneyland Paris, the attraction is somewhat different from other versions of the attraction. The exterior clock face features a wide-awake sun on its left half and a sleeping moon on on its right half. The scenery and music are done in a different style, i.e., more ornate, more symphonic, and there is a separate room for North America, with dolls representing Canada and the United States. This version also has a complete Middle Eastern section (in which the song is sung in Arabic). In the Finale Room, in addition to the song being sung in English, it is also sung in French and German.
Hong Kong Disneyland 
The Hong Kong Disneyland version opened in April 2008 with 38 Disney characters (all rendered in the Mary Blair style) added to scenes where their stories originated. This version also features an expanded Asia sequence, a Middle East room, and a new scene for North America. The Finale room features extraordinary fiber-optic lighting effects not seen on any other Disney attraction. Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, and Tagalog versions of the song were specially recorded for Hong Kong Disneyland. The finale is sung in three languages: Cantonese, English and Mandarin. The attraction is the largest indoor attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, and the location of the attraction is beyond the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad next to The Golden Mickeys attraction.
Holiday season 
Since 1997, Disneyland has featured "It's a Small World Holiday" during the end-of-the-year Christmas and holiday season. The attraction is closed in late October to receive temporary holiday decorations inside and outside, and reopens in early November before the start of the busy holiday tourist season. The overlay has proved very popular and at one point during its run needed the use of FASTPASS machines (which have since been removed). The attraction is the same boat voyage through many regions of the world, though the main theme song is not played fully. Instead, the children sing "Jingle Bells" and a bridge of "Deck the Halls" in addition to the main theme. The holiday overlay has since been implemented at Tokyo Disneyland with similar decorations, if not more, than the Disneyland version.
From now on the Disney characters and The Spirit of America room (formerly the covered transition room) are joining in the "It's a Small World Holiday" at Disneyland.
Disneyland Paris's version used to add subtle decorations around the attraction and changed the music in the North American area to "Deck The Halls". For the 2009 winter season, Disneyland Paris has added "It's a small world celebration", a variation of "it's a small world — happy holiday" highlighting winter season frolic shared by people worldwide. It includes new costumes, lighting, sounds, decorations and uses the Disneyland (California) version "It's a small world holiday" music – Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls.
Hong Kong Disneyland's "It's a Small World christmas" changes the music seasonally and subtly adds a few Christmas decorations as well as an abridged version of the Holiday soundtrack
Tokyo Disneyland also has a version of "It's A Small World Holiday" called "It's A Small World Very Merry Holidays" It first ran seasonally from November-January beginning in 2003. Due to damaged set pieces as a result of the 2011 Earthquake, the overlay did not take place that year. It returned in November 2012.
The Magic Kingdom does not have its own holiday edition of "It's a Small World", and the original ride operates continuously through the holiday season.
Attraction facts and figures 
Disneyland attraction version:
- Grand opening: May 28, 1966
- Closing date: January 22, 2008 (for renovation)
- Grand re-opening date: February 5, 2009
- Boat capacity: 15 passengers
- Animated/Disney characters/unanimated figures: 437
- Slogan: The happiest cruise that ever sailed 'round the world..
- Facade: White and gold with a new flume
Magic Kingdom attraction version:
- Grand opening: October 1, 1971 (opened with the Magic Kingdom park)
- Closing date: May 2, 2004/September 2010 (for renovation)
- Grand re-opening date: March 18, 2005 and October 21, 2010
- Flume capacity: 500,000 US gallons (2,000 m³) of water
- Boat capacity: 24 passengers
- Animated/unanimated figures: 472
- Audio-Animatronics dolls: 289
- Toys: 147
- Animated props: 36
- Slogan: The happiest cruise that ever sailed the seven seas.
- Facade: Similar to that of Anaheim, Tokyo and Hong Kong, but the facade is a scaled down version of the original and it is enclosed
Tokyo Disneyland attraction version:
- Grand opening April 15, 1983 (Opened with the Tokyo Disneyland Park)
- Slogan: Welcomes You to the Magic Kingdom of All the World's Children
- Slogan（NEW）: the happiest cruise that ever sailed 'round the world.
- Facade: Same as Anaheim but the entrance is on the left of the clock tower and the facade is more colorful than the old in Anaheim but the scenes are based the same way they do at Magic Kingdom's version
Disneyland Paris attraction version:
- Grand opening April 12, 1992 (opened with Euro Disneyland)
- Slogan: The happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world.
- Facade: Facade is larger and more elaborate than its counterparts. The color of the facade is painted mixed pastels and the smiling clock face is replaced with a smiling half-sun and half-moon reflecting day and night which also serves the song's meaning: 'There is just one moon and one golden sun.'
Hong Kong Disneyland attraction version:
- Soft opening: April 27, 2008
- Grand opening: April 28, 2008
- Attraction area: 83,500 sq ft (7,760 m2)
- Boat capacity: 23 passengers
- Animated/unanimated figures: 514
- Audio-Animatronics dolls: 202
- Disney characters: 38
- Toys: 220
- Animated props: 42
- Slogan: Rediscover the world of laughter.
- Facade: A colorful facade similar to Anaheim and Tokyo, but the entrance is on the right of the clock tower, with indoor boarding similar to the one in Florida's Magic Kingdom
Cultural references 
- The video game Epic Mickey contains an area called "Gremlin Village", based on this attraction. It is home to the Gremlins and the attraction's outer facade was adapted into it as the game's first boss, the Clock Tower, a living version of the clock from the outside of the attraction, who couldn't stand listening to the song over and over, and eventually snapped. An instrumental version of the song is performed during the fight. How you fight the clock affects the game's story.
- A cover version of the song was made by the Baha Men for the soundtrack of Around the World in 80 Days.
- The Family Guy episode "The Courtship of Stewie's Father" features a parody of the ride when Stewie Griffin is enslaved and forced to sing a song called "It's a Tiny World".
- In The Simpsons episode "Selma's Choice", Bart, Lisa and Selma Bouvier ride an attraction called The Little Land of Duff in Duff Gardens wherein Lisa starts to hallucinate after drinking some "water" in this aquatic ride. The Little Land of Duff is a parody of the ride.
- In The Fairly OddParents episode "Love At First Height", Timmy sees a ride at Adrenaland called "It's A Dull World" which is a parody of Small World.
- In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Human Habitrail", Courage has to go rescue Eustace and Muriel by heading to Dr. Gerbil's lair. He takes a raft to it while listening to "It's Doc Gerbil's World".
- In the Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain episode "A Walk in the Park", the trio visits a Disney-esque theme park where Brain attempts to change the looping song in the "Small World" ride to one containing an encoded hypnotic message.
- In Going Bovine, the lead character Cameron almost died on the ride as a child.
- In the Spike Milligan episode of The Muppet Show, the closing number sung by various Muppets and the set is based on this attraction.
- In Tim Babb's Kingdom Comedy Tim Babb rides the ride.
- In Kronk's New Groove the attraction has a flume like on the attraction Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Mattel released a line of dolls based on the ride in 1993.
- In "The One with the Blackout", an episode of the popular comedy series Friends, Ross mentions that he once had sex inside the attraction.
- On a 1981 episode of the Wolfman Jack-hosted Midnight Special, Andy Kaufman performs the song while dancing to a group of conga players, eventually playing a conga drum himself.
- In The Lion King (1994), Scar tells Zazu to sing something "with a little bounce in it." Zazu sings "It's a Small World" and Scar stops him from finishing the song.
- Direct-to-video release The Return of Jafar (1994), released earlier that year, includes Genie returning from his trip around the world. Aladdin remarks that he didn't take a long time at his trip, Genie then turns into a bunch of Genie dolls, and sings "It's a Small World".
- In the video game Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (2010), the song plays from an ice cream musical machine.
- In The Lion King 1 1/2, Timon sings "It's a Small World", putting his own spin on the song.
- Disney has released a popular iPad and iPhone application that closely follows the theme park ride, with children taking a balloon ride to different countries while the theme song plays.
- In the comic strip FoxTrot, the theme park Fun-Fun Universe includes a ride called "It's A Fun-Fun World", which includes the lyrics "It's a Fun-Fun World, both high and low/It's a Fun-Fun World, go spend that dough."
- Internet video reviewer Some Jerk With A Camera did a three-part episode about the holiday version of the ride, criticizing the annoying song and the bland inoffensiveness, contrasting it from Disney works that feature moments of darkness to make the happy ending feel earned.
See also 
- "It's a small world" (album) – soundtrack to the Tokyo Disneyland attraction
- List of current Disneyland attractions
- Magic Kingdom attraction and entertainment history
- Tokyo Disneyland attraction and entertainment history
- Hong Kong Disneyland attraction and entertainment history
- Incidents at Walt Disney World Resort
- Incidents at Disneyland Paris
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFTpQIwKjqY at 4:00 mark.
- ""It's a Small World" by Disneyland Chorus". Retrieved 2011-07-01.
- Smith, Dave (2006). Disney A to Z: The Official Disney Encyclopedia. Disney Editions. p. 354. ISBN 0-7868-4919-3.
- Walt Disney Conversations, p.83 ISBN 1-57806-713-8
- "Designing "It's a Small World" — The 1964 New York World's Fair". Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- ""it's a small world" attraction page". Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- "Disney's 'small world' to get big retrofit". Retrieved 2008-02-01.[dead link]
- "MousePlanet DLR Update". Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "New Projection Show Turns ‘small world’ Into a Big Canvas, for ‘The Magic, The Memories and You'". Retrieved 2011-04-26.
- YouTube – Hong Kong Disneyland 2008 promo
- The HKDL Source: Three New Attractions in 2007 and 2008
- Disneyland Park – ''"it's a small world"'' official site
- Walt Disney World Resort – ''"it's a small world"'' official site
- Tokyo Disneyland – "it's a small world" official site
- Disneyland Paris – "it's a small world" official site
- Hong Kong Disneyland – ''"it's a small world"'' official site
- Ride-through videos:
- Richards, Jason (March 13, 2012). "It's an Annoying Song (After All)". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 13, 2012.