It’s a Disney Classic
This ride originally debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair as a salute to UNICEF and all of the world’s children. The theme for the fair that year was ‘peace through understanding’. It was one of five Disney attractions that year used to test a variety of ride systems and concepts before moving to a Disney park. ‘It’s a Small World’ was such a popular attraction it was moved to Disneyland where it opened on May 28th, 1966. In 1971 it became one of the opening day attractions at Walt Disney World. It is now featured at five Disney parks on three continents and has become a Disney staple at every park across the world. According to Guest Research at Disneyland, 1 in 4 guests consider it a tradition to visit each vacation and I would guess it’s probably the same at the other parks as well.
Connects You to Walt Himself
Walt Disney originally came up with the concept of this boat ride attraction which he first called “Children of the World.” Walt took pride in this ride and was one of the ones that oversaw the construction at the World’s Fair. He also worked with the composers to write the song that everyone knows and either loves or hates because of its catchy tune. While riding this ride you can feel the dreams and wishes that Walt Disney put in to his creation of the magical world of Disney.
Detail in the Ride
Attention to detail can be found throughout the ride. Alice Davis oversaw a team of Disney seamstresses who sewed over 300 costumes in authentic materials for each region’s traditional attire. It was a woman named Mary Blair (who was married to Imagineer Marc Blair who also worked on the creation of the ride) who added the visual aesthetic with her use of color, geometric shapes and child-like-art style. If you look closely you will notice that most of the over 240 animated figures are created to look the same other than the attire, skin color and country. It was made this way to remind us that we are all the same.
You know the song and probably are already singing it inside your head as you read this. The song was written by the Sherman Brothers. Walt loved the song so much that he changed the original name of the attraction from ‘Children of the World’ to what we know it as today. According to Robert Sherman Jr. there has not been a moment when ‘It’s a Small World’ has not been playing in at least two locations on the globe since 1983. This song could be the most played song in the world.
Brings You Back to Your Childhood
The way you are positioned in the boat puts you at an eye level that helps you see the world through the eyes of a child. It reminds you of innocence and youth and that love is possible when you come together. When you are in the last room that has all the children from all of the countries dressed in whites, blues and golds celebrating as one you can feel that innocence return that you once felt. For many this ride might be their first memory of a ride at Disney as well!
Now when I visit I always say I don’t need to go stand in that line because I have been on it far too many times but I always find myself sitting on the boat, sailing through the seven seas, singing along with the children and humming the tune the rest of the day. Is your Disney vacation really complete without it?
My favorite thing to do is plan Disney vacations and it has been a dream of mine to help others plan their own magical experiences. As they say in Disney, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow,” and I want to help you see it all!
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