It’s An Annoying Song After All
It’s a brand new year so let’s kick things off with a big bang shall we! I, like many fine folks out there, am not a frequent rider of one very infamous Disney attraction, It’s a Small World. Why? Well your answer must come in the form of me yelling. BECAUSE THE SONG IS TWELVE MINUTES OF TORTURE! Okay, now since that is out of my system, I can freely talk about the attraction without crying.
In all seriousness, It’s A Small World is a ground breaking attraction that really changed Disneyland for the better and gave us one of the most recognizable attractions in the history of amusement parks. Sure it’s a simple little ride with less than impressive animatronics and a song that will make you bleed from your ears, but it’s magical story and what spawned from it is completely original and one of a kind as far as Disney attractions go.
It’s well known that Walt Disney was very involved in the 1964 New York World’s Fair. He and the imagineers at WED (pre Walt Disney Imagineering) had plans to build attractions for several pavilions to promote Disneyland and eventually bring back these attractions and the technology that came with them to Disneyland. Walt Disney had a life size robotic Abraham Lincoln built for Illinois and General Electric got a moving theater called The Carousel of Progress. With a great amount of excitement around the Disney sponsored pavilions at the fair, Pepsi decided to approach WED at the last minute to design an attraction. Walt Disney came up with the plan for a boat ride. Imagineers were hesitant considering they were working on the latest in technology and Walt wanted a simple boat ride, however some of the top legends in Imagineering got to work on the attraction to have it ready in time for the fair.
Along with designing the attraction at WED, the Sherman brothers were approached to write a song about peace and unity. What they came up with was a ballad. The song “It’s A Small World After All” was originally written as a slow song, but due to the uplifting nature of the attraction they decided to pick up the tempo on the song. It was also written to accompany many styles, depending on the area of the world you were in while riding, and it could be sung in many different languages. It’s what makes this song unique to the Sherman brothers as it is the only time they wrote a song that wasn’t completely in English.
It’s A Small World opened at the 1964 World’s Fair on April 22nd inside a large building with a tower out front. The Rolly Crump designed “Tower of the Four Winds” served as a weenie to the attraction and was something you could see from anywhere at the fair. The tower led many people to the attraction and it became one of, if not, the most popular attraction at the fair. The impressive 12 minute ride boasted over 400 animatronic dolls giving riders a bang for their buck, which saw over 10 million people ride through over the course of 2 6-month seasons. What made It’s A Small World attractive to many folks at the fair was the lack of a long line. Due to large boats leaving the dock quite often, the attraction became known as a “people eater”. The lack of line, the tower, and the Disney name attached brought It’s A Small World great success.
When the fair ended in October of 1965, much of the attraction was moved back to Anaheim. Rolly Crump’s tower was taken apart and it wasn’t added to the Disneyland version of the attraction, but Walt Disney asked Rolly to come up with a new facade for the Fantasyland’s It’s a Snall World. Being a fan of his friend and coworker Mary Blair, he designed a facade made of towers and turrets that mildly resembled national landmarks around the world. Tha facade was mostly simple shapes forming together around a clock which was also an idea Walt Disney wanted. Rolly Crump added the clock with the smiling face as the symbol of the attraction and it is a real working clock. Every quarter hour, animatronic toy soldier dolls make their way out of the facade and walk around the clock. It was another weenie for the attraction that drew people to it at Disneyland.
When Walt Disney World opened on October 1st, 1971, It’s A Small World was a natural fit for Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. Unlike it’s California sister, it doesn’t host the great facade out front, however many of the other Small World attractions around the world have replicated the facade from Disneyland. Currently the attraction has a home at every Disneyland style theme parks at the resorts around the world and it is rumored to be a part of Shanghai Disneyland when it opens in the next few years.
It’s A Small World was a big influence on later attractions as well. After seeing how successful the attraction was due to being a “people eater”, Pirates of the Caribbean was changed from being a walk-through museum, into a boat ride through a caribbean town. Other attractions like Splash Mountain, Livng with the Land, Maelstrom, and many others.
Renovations have been made over the years. During Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, several Disney characters were added to the attraction. Since 1997, lights have been displayed on the facade and the attraction has been converted over to a Christmas theme during the holiday season at Disneyland. Just recently, the facade of It’s a Small World was used as the backdrop for the projection show “The Magic, the Memories, and You” however the show has since stopped showing, but it is possible that a projection show will be added back to the facade at Disneyland at a later date.
What are your thoughts on It’s a Small World? Is it a must do attraction or do you skip it? Let me know your thoughts.
Posted on January 2, 2013, in Articles and tagged 1964 New York World's Fair, Abraham Lincoln, Carousel of Progress, Disneyland, Fantasyland, Imagineering, It's A Small World, Josh Taylor, Mary Blair, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rolly Crump, Tower of the Four Winds, Walt Disney, Walt Disney World, WED. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.