The attraction “it’s a small world” celebrated its 50th anniversary April 10, 2014 with a celebration that was shared at Disney Parks around the world. Whether you love the attraction or not, there’s no denying all of its history. Here are some of my favorite facts about the attraction.
Attraction History & Traditions
- “it’s a small world” was originally designed as an exhibit for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. It served as a salute to UNICEF.
- After two seasons at the New York World’s Fair, “it’s a small world” moved to Disneyland, where it was expanded and then reopened as a major attraction in 1966. Shipping stickers from 1965 can still be found on the back of some set pieces.
- During a 16-hour operating day, the “It’s a Small World” song is played approximately 1,200 times.
- Disneyland Resort Horticulture creates and maintains the animal-shaped topiary plants outside “it’s a small world.” It often takes five years before a topiary figure is ready for its onstage debut.
- The 30-foot-high clock tower is the centerpiece of theentrance to “it’s a small world.” The clock marks the quarter hour with a parade of colorful international “characters,” along with animated props and music. Guests may see a boy from Italy rowing a gondola, a kimono-clad girl from Japan with a parasol, a girl from Africa carrying a pot on her head, a boy from Mexico doing the traditional hat dance with maracas, a boy from Australia throwing a boomerang and a girl from Egypt posed as an ancient Cleopatra wall painting.
- A new “it’s a small world” tradition began on November 27, 1997, with the debut of “it’s a small world” Holiday at Disneyland. Each holiday season, the attraction undergoes a festive holiday redressing with new decorations, soundtracks, costumes, props and effects. Learn even more fun facts about “it’s a small world” Holiday by clicking here.
|Alice Davis with one of her dolls at the Disney Archives.|
- The dolls were designed by iconic Disney artist and Disney Legend Mary Blair and costumed by famed costume designer and Disney Legend Alice Davis.
- “it’s a small world” has a specific doll that is a nod to Mary Blair. Keep an eye out for the little blonde with glasses, flying from a balloon over the Eiffel Tower in the Paris scene.
- “it’s a small world” has more than 240 Audio-Animatronics figures representing children from around the world.
|Cinderella inside “it’s a small world.”|
- Disneyland’s it’s a small world” features dolls dressed as classic Disney characters, including Ariel and Flounder (“The Little Mermaid”) in the Pacific Island scene; Mulan and Mushu (“Mulan”) in Asia; Aladdin and Jasmine (“Aladdin”) in the Middle East; and Donald Duck, Panchito and Jose Carioca (“The Three Caballeros”) in Latin America. If you look carefully, you’ll also see Pixar pals like Nemo, Dory, Woody and Jessie.
- The “It’s a Small World” song was composed by Richard . and Robert S. Sherman, the composers of “Mary Poppins,” at the request of Walt Disney. (The Shermans have also been named Disney Legends.) Arranged and orchestrated with instruments from all over the world – bagpipes in the attraction’s Scotland scene, Peruvian reed flutes, Tahitian drums, etc. – the music not only provides accents to each scene, it underscores the attraction’s theme of unity.
|One of the highlights of my life: meeting
Richard Sherman at the Disney Archives.
- The original concept for the attraction featured the dolls singing the national anthems of the various countries. The result was, in Richard Sherman’s words, “a cacophony.” The Sherman Brothers composed a simple song that could be translated into many languages and sung consistently throughout the attraction.
- The attraction has two lines and while queue to the left appears to be shorter, the queue to the right moves faster. This is true for two reasons. First, because the left queue looks shorter, guests automatically select it. Second, guests with special assistance passes are loaded on the attraction on that side thus increasing the amount of guests accessing the attraction from that side with a second queue for those guests and the rest of their party.
- If you think ‘it’s a small world” smells sweet during holiday time, it does!
Lisa Robertson is the publisher of Babes In Disneyland and author of the Babes In Disneyland travel guide now available for iPad on iTunes. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. The Babes In Disneyland Facebook page is a great place to ask questions about the Resort or meet other fans.