It’s a Small World is a slow moving boat ride that takes guests through an indoor world occupied by over 300 audio-animatronic dolls representing children from around the world. As you float away from the docking bay you begin to hear the attraction’s upbeat and unforgettable theme song. It’s a Small World was written for the ride of the same name by the Academy-Award winning Sherman brothers. While some enjoy the song more than others, you can be assured all those hearing the melody will have the music and lyrics humming through their head the rest of the day. Each room you enter on your boat ride will bring you to a new country and as you pass from one part of the globe to another the music never stops. The language giving voice to the lyrics will change to coincide with each child’s country. If you pay close attention to the children’s faces from scene to scene you will notice something interesting. Each child’s face is identical in shape. Their skin color, hair and costumes will vary. However, underneath the Scottish kilt, the German lederhosen, or the Indian Sari they are the same child. At the core of it’s design It’s a Small World delivers a welcome message of global unity.
It’s a Small World is an “in and out interval loader”, meaning the previous riders will disembark and then the new riders will load and then embark at set intervals. The really neat thing here is that this ride gets credit for this loading innovation. While the ride made its Magic Kingdom debut on opening day in 1971, it was first introduced back in 1964 at the World’s Fair. It quickly became one of the most popular attractions that year due to its ability to move large numbers of guests through the attraction while other rides had long lines and waits. In fact it was so successful that it directly effected the development of other Disney rides.
At the time of the 1964 World’s Fair, Pirates of the Carribean was under constuction at Disneyland and was being built as a subterrean walk-through. Thanks to the success of It’s a Small World the Disney Imagineers decided to break up the concrete at Pirates and add boats similar to those on It’s a Small World. Now passengers would set sail rather than be forced to walk the long concrete plank. Something so simple had a huge impact on the landscape of Disney rides for years to come.
That brings us back to when to ride. With the ability to load so quickly and move a large number of guest through per hour, I rate this as an “at your convenience” ride. You don’t need to plan your day around this ride. Fastpass + is available but I would save it for a host of other Magic Kingdom rides. The best time to ride is when you are a little tired and could use a nice 10-minute break from walking. If the line isn’t long, hop in and climb aboard “The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed”.
For me personally, I loved the ride as a small child. The bright decorations, loud music and movement of the children are a lot to take in. However, as a teenager I remember thinking it was “too slow” and I wanted to hurry to bigger, faster attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The theme parks today are full of innovative new rides with cutting edge technology. While I love a lot of these newer rides I have come to really appreciate It’s a Small World as an adult. There is beauty in the simplicity of this ride. Without simulators bucking you around or scents blown into your face to make you feel immersed in a particular atmosphere, you have time to relax and observe the rich details of each scene. I love looking at the hand-crafted artistry that was put into each child. The details and the designs still hold up now 43 years later and are a welcome change in pace to something computer generated.
This is a great ride to observe the expressions of kids as they take in the animatronic dolls singing and dancing. In fact the ride was created as a tribute to the kids of the world. Back in 1964 Pepsi approached Walt to create the ride as a Salute to UNICEF. Despite, having only 6 months and multiple other projects already going for the World’s Fair that year Walt took on the challenge. The ride was completed in time for the fair and was an instant success paving the way for its future at Walt Disney World. It may not be the most exciting thrill ride in the kingdom today, but as one of Walt’s own creations it continues to pay tribute to children around the world as new kids experience the ride daily.
If you are going to add the ride to your itinerary, and I hope you do, and want more ways to build the anticipation, there is an app titled “It’s a Small World”. This is a great way to introduce your kids to the ride and get them excited before they even walk through the ticket gates. The app features the original song lyrics and some beautiful animation geared at teaching kids the same positive and peaceful message as the ride itself.
Hopefully today has helped introduce you to and get you excited about riding It’s a Small World! Now it is your turn to get out there and ride. If you have been on the ride before I would love to hear your thoughts and get your feedback. Perhaps I have overlooked the best part of the ride and you want to share with fellow readers. If so head you can comment on this page or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ok fellow riders, that raps up our look at It’s A Small World. Now its up to you to go make today a ride worth taking!
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