Groot is coming to Disney's It's a Small World

March 27, 2024, 7:54 AM · Well, that was not where we expected to see Marvel characters at a Disney theme park.

With the expiration earlier this year of Universal Studios Hollywood's license for Marvel's Spider-Man, the Tokyo Disney Resort now is clear to use more Marvel characters at its theme parks. The resort already has announced the debut of Avengers characters in a new nighttime spectacular on Tokyo Disneyland's Cinderella Castle in September.

But today, Tokyo Disney announced another home for Marvel characters at Tokyo Disneyland - the It's a Small World Ride.

Yup, just like other Small Worlds around the world have added Disney characters as sort-of Easter eggs within the classic dark ride, Tokyo Disney will take that to another level by adding "characters from "across the Marvel Cinematic Universe" in its rethemed "it's a small world with Groot" ride for a limited time.

It's a Small World with Groot
Image courtesy Oriental Land Co.

"Groot from the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' film trilogy and his friends from Marvel Studios films are visiting Earth for vacation," as Tokyo Disney described the ride's backstory in a press release. "Groot encounters his friends in various locations on Earth and experiences their regional cultures and music with them as well as with children from all over the world."

The Marvel version of Small World will debut in winter next year, with the ride going down for the switch sometime this autumn.

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Replies (13)

March 27, 2024 at 8:39 AM

Everyone sing along! (To the tune of Its a Small World of course):
I am Groot Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, Groot, Groooooot…..

I’ll see myself out no need to get up

March 27, 2024 at 8:40 AM

Pretty cool though in my opinion. My nephews would love this! Which would probably demand re-rides (not cool in my opinion lol)

March 27, 2024 at 9:34 AM

I know many will say It's a Small World is a classic, but I think it's one ride that needs a whole new re-do. If Disney can redo Splash Mountain, they can certainly redo this old feller.

March 27, 2024 at 9:40 AM

I had to double check the date to make sure this wasn't an early April Fool's Day prank.

March 27, 2024 at 9:40 AM

My wife and I are going to Tokyo in April 2025. I hope this version is still going on at that point. We are big Marvel fans.

March 27, 2024 at 10:10 AM

Woof. Marvel's allure is dropping as fast as Star Wars', and here's Disney using more of that dying IP like it's still fresh.

Galaxy's Edge proved it best, but there's a real danger in building attractions around current IP. Because if you don't manage the IP well--and Disney has certainly wrecked both Star Wars and Marvel--it kills the luster of the attractions.

March 27, 2024 at 10:22 AM

Why not? I wager Marvel is ultra popular in Tokyo.

March 27, 2024 at 11:12 AM

This is one of the dumbest things I have ever seen.

"Hey guys, let's drop our para-military characters into a ride that is ostensibly pacifist! Fun for the whole family!"

March 27, 2024 at 11:19 AM

@Jacob hahahaha, too good.

Disney doesn't make rides anymore, or so I've been told, so I guess they'll just keep doing stuff like this.

March 27, 2024 at 11:26 AM

Maybe they'll have Groot executing certain of the children, the bad ones.

Maybe they can add baby Kylo Ren or that shouty ginger dude.

March 27, 2024 at 1:01 PM

Obviously this would be sacrilegious if it were to make its way to the original installation in Anaheim. I don't necessarily mind this as an occasional overlay, but as a full time refresh of a classic attraction, I don't quite understand the point. Adding Marvel characters to a ride based on world (and galactic) harmony/unity seems a bit hypocritical. If they're going to do this, I would rather they completely redo the entire attraction and give it a new name (and song). If they wanted to go over-the-top campy with it, even better, especially if they're using the Guardians characters. However, the way this is described seems like a match made in Dr. Frankenstein's lab.

Brian mentions that they were able to retheme Splash, which is correct, but that refresh will introduce an entirely new cast of characters and theming to the old attraction with the old story and characters completely stripped (except for perhaps a few winks and nods here and there for the purists). In this case, it sounds like they're trying to infuse new characters into an existing ride without changing what is already there. There's something to be said for the "Easter Egg Hunt" aspect of some of Disney's slow-moving boat rides like this, but injecting Groot and other Marvel characters into the IP would be like having Chewbacca giving announcements on the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups. In other words, Small World does not live in the same universe as the MCU, and while they were able to wedge Guardians into the IP of EPCOT for GotG:CR in a clever way, that IP is not as sacrosanct as the one developed by Walt himself for the New York World's Fair. This sounds like an idea borne from a brainstorming session that got the marketing/merchandising teams perked up so they can start moving some Small World merchandise that doesn't rely on snarky comments about the earworm.

March 27, 2024 at 2:50 PM

Sorry, Disney, but this ain't it. Putting characters from Disney's animated library into the attraction was already questionable in my opinion, but at least they came from a fictionalized version of the real world and were inserted where it made thematic sense. Populating a ride about global harmony with a bunch of extraterrestrials, however, is just way too incongruous to hold any appeal to me, and rendering live-action characters in the cartoony style of Mary Blair is a bit too weird. I suppose it might work in Japan, where the local audience goes for that sort of thing, but this reeks of simply trying to get the MCU into the parks as quickly as possible without consideration for maintaining thematic integrity.

March 31, 2024 at 6:50 PM

Next they’ll depict an exorcist and vampires to really ramp it up - ugh it’s a terrible ride either way

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