It’s hard to think of this ride and not start singing the song in your head.  (Admit it, some of you start singing it when you saw the picture).  For some this is a ride that they tolerate or just ride because they have no other choice.  But for some of us, it is the ultimate ride in Disneyland.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the thrill rides and some of the newer rides, but I’m a classic, old-fashioned person at heart.  I love the nostalgic memories of this ride.  How it was brought to Disneyland, the history behind making it and yes even the new changes, (which if I were completely honest I would have to say I wasn’t thrilled about until I actually saw it in person).

So where did It’s a Small World come from?  Why was Walt creating this?  Just for a new ride in the park?  Because he had a vision?  Well actually it was created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.  Along with It’s a Small World, Disney was presenting 4 other attraction ideas to test concepts and ride systems.  After the World’s Fair closed in 1966, Walt took his concept ideas and re-built them in Disneyland.  It’s a Small World and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln are still attractions you can delight in at Disneyland today, while Carousel of Progress can still be enjoyed at Disney World.

Like most things Disney, the idea came from Walt himself in combination with many others who helped to bring this ride to life.  When the project began Walt wanted to call the ride “Children of the World” showing children from all parts of the world and singing a song in each of their native languages.  However, the first recordings had the song playing in each language at the same time which became very distracting since you couldn’t understand the song in any one language.  At that time Walt requested of the Sherman brothers that they write a song that could be translated into many languages and could be played in a round.  When the Sherman brothers first presented the song “It’s a Small World (after all)” to Walt, they played it slow in a ballad form.  Walt felt it was too slow and asked them to speed it up since he was looking for a more cheerful song.  He was so delighted by what he heard he decided to change the name of the ride to “It’s a Small World” after the Sherman Brothers’ song.

Along with the Sherman brothers were many others who helped to bring this project to life.  Mary Blair was responsible for the color and design.  Marc Davis created the scenes and characters while his wife, Alice Davis, designed the costumes for the dolls.  The animated dolls were designed and sculpted by Blaine Gibson who created each doll’s face in an identical shape. Walt was directly involved with Blaine on creating the doll’s faces.  It is always fascinating to me to learn how many people help to create new things at Disney.

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Sometimes it may be difficult to see changes at our most beloved destinations.  So when it has been announced a major change is coming to It’s a Small World, I confess I started to panic.  They were talking about adding some of the newer Disney characters to this classic ride.  Characters like Ariel, Simba, Aladdin & Jasmine, Nemo, Lelo & Stich, Woody & Jessie, Peter Pan & Tinker Bell, and Cinderella to name a few.  (There are actually 29 new Disney characters)  How could this be, how could they become part of this magical world?  Well leave it to the Disney Imagineers to surprise even the most classic visitors to Disneyland.  I was afraid to ride the “new” It’s a Small World in fear that it just wouldn’t be the same.  Would there be new, upgraded dolls to take away from the classic doll face?  Well to my surprise the new characters fit right in and are placed in their native lands.  It was fun to see these new characters join the classic land of It’s a Small World.

Walt was always working on new projects to move forward as he knew that things would always be progressing and changing.  He refused to think that things would always stay the same.  “Disneyland will never be completed.  It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world” – Walt Disney

With that in mind we need to remember that changes are inevitable and often good, even when we feel sad that the classic memory we have is changing.  Sometimes change is hard especially when it means changing our memories of something we remember from our childhood or even as we have aged.  Disneyland will always be changing so whenever you visit you will be able to make your own memories.

Let me know how I can help you make your magical dreams come true.

To Infinity and Beyond Travel – Traci


About Traci

Traci is the owner of To Infinity and Beyond Travel, an affiliate of Worldwide Travel Specialists.  She has been helping people plan magical vacations to Disney Destinations for 8 years.  She has been a lifelong fan of all things Disney that started when her parents took her to Disney World for the first time in 1978. Since then she has visited Disney World and Disneyland multiple times.  In the fall of 2018 she and her husband moved to Florida to begin a new chapter in life as empty nesters.  They decided being close to The Mouse and beaches was where they wanted to be.  Part of her enjoyment now is to be able to visit with her clients while on vacation and make certain that all their vacation dreams are being met.  She loves helping her clients by working with them on booking dining reservations, Genie+ and Lightning Lane reservations, special events and anything else that she can do to spread pixie dust.  Her goal is for all her clients to enjoy their magical vacation instead of planning their vacation.

She is also the author/editor of The Infinity Mouse where she shares all things Disney to keep her readers informed about what is happening in and around Disney.  Her goal is to bring happiness to her readers and to have everyone feel like one big ‘Ohana’.

It’s A Small World – Disneyland