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A Tribute To Disneyland's It's A Small World Ride

Updated on July 1, 2015
A tribute to Disneyland's It's A Small World ride.
A tribute to Disneyland's It's A Small World ride. | Source

If you have ever been to any Disney park I am almost sure that you have been on the It's A Small World ride! Well this year (2014) celebrates the 50th anniversary of this beloved attraction. I myself have many fond memories with friends and family enjoying the child-like whimsy of this ride during every season! I have only been on the one at Disneyland but since it is the original It's A Small World ride I feel very fortunate! I get to experience the ride as Walt himself built it. From the catchy song to the iconic dolls, people from all over the world have come to experience the happiest cruise that ever sailed! Here is a look at some of the history of It's A Small World as I wish it a happy 50th!

Disney is planning on celebrating 50 years of Its A Small World on April 10, 2014!

Here I am with one of my best friends on It's A Small World a few years ago right after it was refurbished!
Here I am with one of my best friends on It's A Small World a few years ago right after it was refurbished! | Source

Some history of Its A Small World

It's A Small World opened on May 28, 1966 in Disneyland. It was originally created for the worlds fair in New York 1964. It was initially created as a tribute to UNICEF. After the fair closed everything was sent back to Disneyland where Walt only had 11 months to create and build the ride. He collaborated with many people to bring his ride to life. Some of these people included Mair Blair and Blain Gibson. Mary Blair was responsible for the look and feel of the ride. She had previously worked on several movies including Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. Blain Gibson was responsible for creating the dolls inside the ride. Walt was personally involved in helping to create the dolls and the animatronics. Each dolls face shape is completely the same, only the features and the style of clothing and hair are different.

The Outside

The outside of It's A Small World is just as iconic and famous as the inside! The facade created for It's A Small World, including the smiling clock tower, was designed by Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump who used Mary Blair's work as inspiration. The facade includes structures that resemble buildings around the world such as the Eiffel Tower and the leaning Tower of Pisa. The outside also features many animal shaped plants including a bear, a giraffe, and a hippo!

Here is a bear animal plant located on the outside.
Here is a bear animal plant located on the outside. | Source

It's A Small World After All

Everybody knows the Its A Small World song that plays inside the ride. Children who have never even been on it learn the song in school but did you know that we could all be singing a different song? "Children of the World" was the original title of the song that was supposed to be in the ride and it featured the national anthems of all the countries represented inside the ride. All the anthems were played at the same time and Walt felt that it sounded like too much noise. He took the song to the Sherman brothers (famous for creating the music to Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and told them he needed one song that can be translated into several languages and played as a round (a piece of music that can be played in a loop without a defined beginning or end, like row row your boat). They wrote "Its A Small World After All" which promoted peace and brotherhood in the era of the cuban missile crisis. It was originally written as a ballad but Walt wanted it to be a cheerful song. The Sherman brothers then sped it up. Walt loved it so much that he renamed the ride "It's A small World" after their song.

Countries featured inside:

It's A Small World is known as the happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world but what countries are actually featured inside? Here is a list of all the countries found inside!

  • Scandinavia/ Sweden/ Norway
  • Denmark
  • England
  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Belgium
  • Holland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Switzerland
  • Greece
  • Russia
  • Israel
  • Bali
  • India
  • China
  • Japan
  • Egypt
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Antarctica
  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • Central America
  • Mexico
  • South American Rainforest
  • South Pacific
  • Hawaii
  • Australia
  • Various Poleneysian Islands

Refurbishment in 2008

It's A Small World has undergone many refurbishments but the largest one took place in 2008. The ride was closed for several months. During this refurbishment structural problems were fixed, the front facade was reinforced, the boats were replaced, and 37 Disney characters were added to the inside. Some of these characters include:

  • Pinnoccio
  • Jimmeny Cricket
  • Mulan and Mushu
  • Aladdin, Jasmine, Abu
  • Cinderella, Jaq, Gus
  • Simba, Pumba, Timone
  • Alice and the White Rabbit
  • Peter Pan and Tinkerbell
  • Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, Panchito Pistoles
  • Woody, Jessie, Bullseye
  • Areil and Flounder
  • Dory and Nemo
  • Lilo and Stitch

Pinoccio, Mulan with Mushu, Simba with Pumba, and Lilo with Stitch!
Pinoccio, Mulan with Mushu, Simba with Pumba, and Lilo with Stitch! | Source

Its A Small World popularity

It's A Small World quickly became one of the most popular rides at Disneyland. Today almost every Disney park has an It's A Small World ride. These parks include:

  • Walt Disney World
  • Disneyland Park Paris
  • Tokyo Disney
  • Hong Kong Disneyland
  • Shanghai Disneyland

Even though this ride is now available in these different parks they are not all the same. In Tokyo Disneyland the finale is sung in Japanese. The one in Paris is the most different. The style and music is more ornate and there is whole room for North America featuring Canada and the United States. The It's A Small World ride in Hong Kong is the closest to the ones in California and Florida.

It's A Small World Collection

Are you a fan of the dolls and animals inside of the ride and wish you could take one home with you? We'll now you can! Disney created a whole line of It's A Small World dolls and plush toys! These dolls represent several regions including Hawaii, Japan, and Holland and are super adorable! There are also plush animals such as a poodle, hippo, and panda all in the style of the ride. You can find these for sale in Disney parks or online. As of now they unfortunately do not have a doll for every region/ country but who knows perhaps in the future there will be!

Celebrating 50 Years!

In honor of the 50th anniversary Disney has asked people from all over the world to record themselves singing the theme song "It's A Small World After All" and created a virtual chorus of the song! It is really cool and you can watch it in the video below! They have also had the ride closed for about a month now and plan to reopen it on April 10th!

Have you been on It's A Small World?

  • 95% Yes!
  • 5% No!
20 people have voted in this poll.

This poll is now closed to voting.

© 2014 Lyndsay Gamber


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    • Patrick Rijnders profile image

      Patrick Rijnders 3 years ago from The Netherlands

      Enjoyed this article a lot, It's a Small World is one of my favorite attractions in Disneyland Paris. I really love the Mary Blair designs they used for the attraction, she really was instrumental in creating the look of the ride.

    • Lyndsay Gamber profile image

      Lyndsay Gamber 3 years ago from California

      Hi Better Yourself!

      Thanks so much! I am glad you enjoyed it! I had a lot of fun researching and reading stories about it! =)

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Another great hub! I enjoyed learning the history of the ride and the song!