Is Small World Holiday the best, or worst, of Disney's holiday overlays?
November 30, 2016, 12:26 PM ·
Disneyland's It's a Small World Holiday celebrates its 20th anniversary this year... and I get all Grinch on it in my Orange County Register column this week. (Sorry for mixing some corporate IP there....)
If you haven't seen it, the holiday overlay adds the music of "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" to the ride's "It's a Small World (After All)" theme song. Throw in holiday-themed decorations throughout the ride and you've got a joyful Christmas celebration that breaks up the monotony of listening to the Sherman Brothers' theme song over and over for the ride's 10 minutes.
So why don't I like it?
Well, it's not that I don't enjoy the experience as much as I'm bothered by the juxtaposition of Christmas theming with the message of cultural unity in the original version of Small World. Does the Christmas theming disrespect the non-Christian cultures referenced in Small World? Or does the global celebration of Christmas by nonbelievers neutralize the religious significance of the holiday?
Either way, the overlay gets me thinking about this symbolic conflict, when the whole point of It's a Small World was to create a vision of a world without conflict. ("I came here to feel, not to think"?) Still, the holiday version does help me appreciate the brilliance of the original version even more, but I rank it my least favorite of Disney's holiday overlays for standing attractions, behind Haunted Mansion Holiday, Jingle Cruise, and the (now only in Tokyo) Country Bear Christmas Special.
Take a video ride and decide for yourself:
And while we're at it, here are the full show videos for Haunted Mansion Holiday (last year's version), the Jingle Cruise, and the Tokyo installation of the Country Bear Christmas show. (Update: I'd originally forgotten about the Jingle Cruise, but now have added it.)