It's a Small World debuted not in a Disney theme park, but at the 1964 New York Fair, where the ride was sponsored by Pepsi Cola as a tribute to UNICEF. Featuring design by Mary Blair and what might have become from the world's most famous "ear worm" theme song from Robert and Richard Sherman, It's a Small World set a new, enduring standard for dark rides, elevating them from carnival attractions to having the potential for delivering top-quality narrative experiences. (Here's Richard Sherman performing some of his famous Disney hits, including It's a Small, Small World live -- in a very different style -- at the 2009 IAAPA convention in Las Vegas.)
It's a Small World takes riders on the happiest cruise that ever sailed in all five "Magic Kingdom" theme parks around the world. The original version stands today at Disneyland in California.
Along with additional versions in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom...
and Hong Kong Disneyland.
In 2009, Disneyland added several Disney characters to its version of the ride, creating a kind-of "Where's Waldo?" element for riders, as they try to find the Disney characters amid Mary Blair's original singing dolls. We talked then with Walt Disney Imagineering's Kim Irvine about that makeover.
Let's take a trip on the current Disneyland version of It's a Small World:
We should note that this also is the 50th anniversary year of Walt Disney's other New York Fair attractions, including Carousel of Progress (the General Electric "Progressland" pavilion), Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (the first Audio Animatronic to depict a once-living human being, displayed in the fair's Illinois pavilion), and the Ford's Magic Skyway. Some of the Skyway's scenes live on as the
Grand Canyon Primeval World diorama on the Disneyland Railroad. Happy 50th birthday to those innovative Disney attractions, too!
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