It is a Small World is the Reason We Have Walt Disney World Today


Although some people might consider multiple visits to “It’s A Small World” something on par with water-boarding, I look forward to riding this attraction every chance I get. It is a reminder that without it, there may never have been a Walt Disney World in Florida for me and my family to enjoy these many times. And, here’s why. I was at the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair as a young teen, and visited the UNICEF Salute that was the Pepsi Pavilion. I particularly remember all the Walt Disney contributions to this event since I was also a big fan of the original Mickey Mouse Club, documentaries such as “The Living Desert” from the True Life Adventures Series that I saw in school, and the various TV incarnations of the Wonderful World of Disney.

But it is this “international kaleidoscope and tribute to the enchanting world of childhood”, which was It’s a Small World, that I give full credit to creation of “Project X”. As much as adults were enamored with the Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Magic Skyway (and so was I), it is only when their children get very excited about a vacation destination that adults will travel hundreds or thousands of miles simply to do rides. Little kids liked “It’s a Small World” and wanted to see more. Interestingly Disney first declined Pepsi when approached to do something in mid-1963. It was much later that Walt alone decided to build this “little boat ride”.

The ride at the World’s Fair benefiting UNICEF cost 95 cents for adults and 60 cents for children. Over the two years, each only a 6-month period, there were over ten million visitors to this pavilion. They experienced a 12-minute highly animated show with memorable music featuring among the decorations France’s Eiffel Tower, a Dutch windmill and India’s Taj Majal. The large kinetic sculpture in front of the show building was called “The Tower of the Four Winds”, but this didn’t survive the later trip to California.

Originally the “Children of the World” was to be the attraction name, but with the Sherman Brothers song titled “It’s a Small World”, the attraction name was changed to match. On the evolution of the song, I’ve read that first it was going to be a medley of national anthems. Then a ballad of the new title was created by Richard and Robert Sherman, but Walt asked that it be more “peppy” and sung in different languages.

So I believe that Small World was the real culmination of everything Walt Disney had previously accomplished for kids (Disneyland, TV shows, movies, three other Worlds Fair pavilions and collateral products) that ultimately made Walt Disney World possible. And it was the reason an east coast Disney Park would work, since it gave parents a strong reason to travel very long distances just for their children. It was only much later when grownups started to learn how much fun it could be at without the kids that WDW became a destination for everyone.

Once the NY World’s Fair ended, Disneyland gained this attraction on May 28, 1966. Then on opening day at Walt Disney World (October 1, 1971) Small World in Fantasyland joined the other start-up attractions, and as an E-Ticket ride. Three hundred singing and animatronic dancing dolls surrounding the Seven Seaways Water Canals represent the100 countries and five languages spoken here. It is something like a gentle, tunnel-of-love water ride (just no smooching, the kids are watching)

That is why I ride “It’s A Small World” every opportunity I can, since it is ongoing reminder that because of this one animatronics collage and sometimes annoying tune, I’m able to enjoy the total package which is Walt Disney World.

Bruce A. Brodsky
A World View – Enjoying Walt Disney World

A World View describes experiences of a Walt Disney World visit, with interesting and relevant articles, photos and videos. In addition to guest feedback, A World View gathers information, reviews, and multi-media from experts and reliable sources on the Internet, offering a well-rounded presentation very helpful for planning a trip to the “World”.

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