I is for it’s a small world {Blogging Through the Alphabet}


From the first time you hear it, you likely have an opinion. Love it or despise it, you will have feelings for this song. As Richard Sherman says in the following video, “Some of you may be ready to kiss me or kill me for having written this with my brother.”

This song was written for the debut of the “it’s a small world” attraction at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. That was the year that Disney built four attractions for the fair, Ford’s Magic Skyway, the Carousel of Progress sponsored by General Electric, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln from the State of Ilinois, in addition to it’s a small world, a salute to UNICEF and all the world’s children.

An East Coast Audience

There were several reasons why Walt Disney pitched his ideas for World’s Fair pavilions that year. One, this would help him get new attractions built for Disneyland with financing by pavilion hosts. As he said himself, Disneyland would never be complete so he had to be sure to continue developing things. Another reason was to try these attractions out on an east coast audience since he already had plans underway for his Florida Project.

Disney Legends

Disney Legend Alice Davis spent hours scouring National Geographic magazine and reproduced over 150 traditional garments from around the world. She was hired by Walt himself to design all of the costuming for the attraction. It took her about a year to complete.

Alice’s husband Marc (a fellow Disney Legend) worked on the project as well. He was one of the 9 Old Men and had been Alice’s animation instruction at Chouinard many years before. What an amazing couple they were.

Another Disney Legend, Mary Blair who introduced modernism and fantastic color designed the art of the attraction. As you travel through the boat ride you can’t fail to see her inspiration at every turn. Another great talent who studied at Chouinard and worked for Walt Disney. He did have a way of finding amazing talents.

Happy and Full of Joy

This is the best way to describe Small World. It is happy and joyful but never more so than during the holidays when cast members decorate for Christmas and other holidays around the world. It is so amazing. Here is my personal video of the attraction all done up for Christmas.

One of my favorite rides during the holidays

Arrival in Disneyland

Moving to Disneyland in 1964 after the Word’s Fair, it’s a small world can transport over 3000 guests per hour around the world. This helped make it a popular spot for families to hide out in from the summer’s heat and sun (I know we’ve done it more than once). Upon its arrival Disneyland’s attendance immediately increased, people wanted to see it and give it a ride.

The Song Heard Around the World These Days

These days visitors to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland are all able to enjoy the Sherman Brothers famous song as they float through lands that have all been inspired by Mary Blair’s artwork as populated by children whose clothing are design originals by Alice Davis. What a legacy they have left for us.

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1 thought on “I is for it’s a small world {Blogging Through the Alphabet}”

  1. Kristen says:

    Learned something new about the ride! And I loved being able to watch your video of the ride decorated for Christmas.

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