It's a Small World
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|This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (February 2015)|
|"It's a Small World"|
"It's a Small World" at Disneyland in 1983
|Attraction type||Old Mill|
|Designer||WED Enterprises/Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Theme||World peace and unity|
|Music||"It's a Small World (after all)", written by the Sherman Brothers|
|Riders per vehicle||16|
|Riders per row||4|
|Height restriction||0 in (0 cm)|
|Propulsion method||Water jets, electric turbine|
|Number of lifts||0|
It's a Small World (stylized it's a small world) is a water-based dark 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Global installations
- 3 Holiday overlay
- 4 In popular culture
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Fabricated at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank as Children of the World, it was created by WED Enterprises, then shipped to the 1964 New York World's Fair's UNICEF pavilion, sponsored by Pepsi, where it featured at its entrance a kinetic sculpture, The Tower of the Four Winds, a 120-foot perpetually spinning mobile created by WED designer Rolly Crump. It was added to four attractions — Magic Skyway (Ford), Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (Illinois), The Carousel of Progress (General Electric), and CircleVision 360 (Kodak)—already under development, which were used by Disney to sponsor, fund, and test concepts and develop ride systems and innovative entertainment intended to be moved and re-built at Disneyland after the World's Fair closed in 1966. Legend has it that the Pepsi Board of Directors took so long to agree on what type of attraction to sponsor that then-board member and widow of past company president Alfred Steele, actress Joan Crawford, prevailed upon her longtime Hollywood friend Walt Disney to design such an attraction as would be suitable for Pepsi. Because of the short lead-time to design, create, and construct such an attraction, she insisted that the Board of Directors accept his proposal, seeing as he was already designing attractions for the state of Illinois, Ford, General Electric, and Kodak and knew Walt was the only one who could accomplish such a feat in the short time left until the fair was scheduled to open. The WED Enterprises company was given only 11 months to create and build the pavilion.
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".
Arrow Development was deeply involved in the design of the passenger-carrying boats and propulsion system of the attraction. Two patents that were filed by Arrow Development staff and assigned to The Walt Disney Company illustrate passenger boats and vehicle guidance systems with features very similar to those later utilized on the Disneyland installation of the attraction. The firm is credited with manufacturing the Disneyland installation.
"Children of the World" was the working title of the attraction. Its tentative soundtrack, which can be heard on the album, featured the national anthems of each countries represented throughout the ride all playing all at once, which resulted in disharmonic cacophony. Walt conducted a walkthrough of the attraction scale model with 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 1962 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.
A third verse celebrating the attraction's 45th Anniversary was written and popularized, but not incorporated into the ride. In 1965, an album of folk songs from around the world that included the title track, was recorded by the St. Charles Boys Choir under the direction of Paul Salamunovich called, "It's A Small World" and using the name, "The Disneyland Boys Choir". It is available for purchase in the theme park.
1964 New York World's Fair
The first incarnation of It's a Small World, which debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair, was an afterthought and nearly did not happen. Ford and General Electric had engaged Disney early on to create their pavilions for the 1964 New York World's Fair. WED Enterprises had already long been at work developing a "dancing-doll" designed to reproduce human movement resulting in a crude early audio-animatronics fashioned as Abraham Lincoln when the State of Illinois approached Disney to create the Illinois Pavilion, representatives of the state instantly approved after being "introduced" to the robotic figurehead. A nine wide-screen CircleVision 360° exhibit for Kodak's pavilion was also being planned as an improvement over the existing Disneyland eleven 4:3 format screen Circarama (which later failed the installation deadline for opening) when Pepsi approached Disney 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, respectively, were collected 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 "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 (because the original walk-through scene length was not shortened) were now different each voyage, another epiphany which forever influenced attraction design and popularity.
The layout of the UNICEF pavilion attraction area featured a large show building which housed the boat cruise. Promoted as a meeting place with the slogan "Meet me under the Tower of the Four Winds" the broad plaza in front of the pavilion was beneath the immense Rolly Crump designed Tower of the Four Winds. The 120-foot-tall kinetic structure featured many brightly painted whimsies of wind powered propellers, vanes, carousels, pinwheels and other traversing, spinning and reciprocating fascinations which became an eye-catching landmark at the World's Fair. After the fair closed the tower was scrapped for its iron when Disney decided to decline the expense of de/reconstruction and freight costs needed to move the unwieldy structure along with the rest of the attraction shipped home to Disneyland in California. Another epiphany was the phenomenal success and crowds remaining in the UNICEF displays and gift shop at the end of the voyage. Although Disneyland Park's version did not have a gift shop until Mattel sponsorship, it is difficult to find a ride constructed nowadays in any theme or amusement park which does not conclude with a gift shop.
The boats enter the show building through a tunnel under the Small World clock and emerge from the attraction fifteen minutes later. The show building interior is 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. It varies from the Magic Kingdom copy version by these differences:
- 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 text cutouts of 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 folk-dancing, India, 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 followed by Brazilian children dancing on Copacabana beach and Mexican dancers performing the jarabe.
- 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 two-dimensional cut-out flats representing stamps, airmail envelopes and postcards in oversized decoupage.
- 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: in its place is the outdoor oval flume and boarding queue decorated with topiary backed by a large, flat 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 often referred to incorrectly as "Glockenspiel".
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 to count the hours and quarters.
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 and Main Street.
Refurbishment with new dolls
Disneyland's "It's a Small World" was closed from January to November 2008 (closed and reopening in holiday version, skipping the summer season) 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 its propulsion upgraded to electric water jet turbines, and the attraction's aging fiberglass boats redesigned in durable plastic. The refurbishment added 37 new Disney characters each in their native land, with England hosting Alice, the White Rabbit, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell; Cinderella, Jaq, and Gus in France; Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket in Italy; Mulan and Mushu in China; Aladdin, Jasmine and Abu in the Middle East; Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon in Africa; and South America hosting Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles as the Three Caballeros. The South Seas room features Ariel, Flounder, Dory, Nemo, Lilo, and Stitch. The former New Guinea Room was transformed to North America, adding Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye. The scenes, figures, props, and set pieces of New Guinea were then added to the end of the South Seas Room.
At this time, the attraction queues for loading and unloading were reversed. Now, two queues exist to allow loading from the outer sides of the two loading areas, with the common center island used for unloading to direct guests through a gift shop via a set of stairs. Previously, guests would load from the center island and exit to the sides. This new configuration makes wheelchair access more efficient since the stairs can be completely avoided.
Sylvania has agreed to a twelve-year sponsorship and created a new marquee for the attraction resembling to a much lesser extent the original Tower of the Four Winds. In 2014, the sponsor logo at the attraction's entrance changed to that of Siemens, the parent company of Sylvania.
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.
October 1, 1971 the cruise began to welcome visitors to Florida's Walt Disney World Fantasyland within the Magic Kingdom. The attraction is a carbon copy of the Disneyland version except for these differences:
- 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.
- From September 2010 until October 21, 2010, this Walt Disney World attraction was again closed for refurbishment.
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 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.
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 shorter than the one in Florida.
- It has a façade that more reflects its California counterpart.
- The Safari and Hawaii rooms have vocals.
- The loading area is split into two zones instead of 1.
Hong Kong Disneyland
The Hong Kong Disneyland version of the attraction is a carbon copy of the Magic Kingdom version except for these differences: it features 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.
- The finale room is shorter than the others.
- The Thailand room is after the Mexico and USA scene instead of after the first room
- The roller coaster track that lights up is painted purple instead of white unlike in Tokyo and Florida
- The flowers that blink is found in the South America room and on the bottom of the carousel in the finale room.
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[when?] on the Disney characters and The Spirit of America room (formerly the covered transition room) have joined in the "It's a Small World holiday" at Disneyland.
Disneyland Paris' 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, only ran from 2009-10.
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 to 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.
In popular culture
- Mattel released a line of dolls based on the ride in 1993.
- On April 22, 2014 (the 50th anniversary of the attraction), it was announced that a feature film on the ride is in the works. Jon Turteltaub will be the director and Jared Stern is set to write. They will be the producers with Dan Lin. No release date is set.
- 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
- List of Disney attractions using Audio-Animatronics
- Video on YouTube.
- US patent 3404635, Bacon, Karl W. & Morgan, Edgar A., "Boat amusement ride", published October 8, 1968, assigned to The Walt Disney Company
- US patent D204282, Morgan, Edgar A., "Passenger-carrying amusement boat", published April 5, 1966, assigned to The Walt Disney Company
- Gurr, Bob (27 November 2013). "DESIGN: Those Were The Times – No.23 1955 Arrow Development – Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon". MiceChat. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- ""It's a Small World" by Disneyland Chorus". Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- Smith, Dave (2006). Disney A to Z: The Official Disney Encyclopedia. Disney Editions. p. 354. ISBN 0-7868-4919-3.
- ""Sights and Sounds of Disney Parks: It's a Classic Attraction. It's Turning 50. 'it's a small world!'" Disney Parks Blog". Disneyparks.disney.go.com. 2014-03-25. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
- Walt Disney Conversations, p.83 ISBN 1-57806-713-8
- "Designing "It's a Small World" – The 1964 New York World's Fair". Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- ""It's a Small World" attraction page". Retrieved February 1, 2008.
- "Disney's 'Small World' to get big retrofit". Retrieved February 1, 2008.[dead link]
- "MousePlanet DLR Update". Retrieved April 24, 2009.
- "New Projection Show Turns ‘Small World’ Into a Big Canvas, for ‘The Magic, The Memories and You'". Retrieved April 26, 2011.
- Hong Kong Disneyland 2008 promo on YouTube
- The HKDL Source: Three New Attractions in 2007 and 2008
- "It's a small world dolls". Merrymuffinland.net. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
- Fleming, Mike. "Disney To Make 'It's A Small World' Movie: Jon Turteltaub To Direct". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
- 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.