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"it's a small world" returns! plus Main Street repaving and Big Thunder Ranch progess

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by , 02-09-2009 at 01:21 AM
Welcome to the February 9th edition of Dateline Disneyland. This week we'll take a look at the newly re-opened "it's a small world" including its new character additions. If you want to wait until you can ride "it's a small world" and see all the changes for yourself, then this week's update may not be for you. We'll also check in with Disneyland's construction projects, and of course we'll wrap up the update with the weekly news and info round-up.

I'd like to thank this week's contributors for stepping up and lending their photographic talents to this week's column when I couldn't make it to the Resort. So many thanks to Mac Daddy, PhotoMatt, and Matt "2DieFR" Gottula!

And finally, before we get started, this week's update is jam packed with photos of Disneyland projects we're tracking over in the Disneyland Resort Project Tracker on MiceChat. Feel free to click on any photos with the Project Tracker watermarks and you will be taken directly to the Project Tracker thread on MiceChat where you can get the latest dates, news, and info on the projects going on at the parks and join an on-going discussion about the current construction plans.

The big news last week was the long-awaited return of Disneyland's classic "it's a small world." The E-Ticket underwent a year-long refurbishment, only opening during the holiday season for the annual run of "it's a small world holiday."

The changes to "it's a small world" have been mixed. Many Disneyland fans have praised the changes, saying that the controversy was much ado about nothing and that the new characters look as though they've always belonged. That's not to say, however, that the changes haven't met their share of criticisms and many people have also noted that the characters are distracting and in-your-face, and quite literally in the spotlight.

Nevertheless, the attraction has re-opened, and is as bright and cheerful as ever. The refurbishment not only introduced numerous Disney characters, but also upgraded a lot of show lighting, cleaned up all of the sets, and put the all of the show's parts in proper working order.

An official Disneyland press release details the new changes and enhancements at "it's a small world."

'it’s a small world’ Returns to Disneyland With New Magic
A beloved Disneyland attraction returns to Fantasyland on Friday, Feb. 6, when “it’s a small world” opens with some new storytelling magic. With the premiere of a new “Spirit of America” scene, new musical enhancements, and a new look for some of the attraction’s familiar child dolls, “it’s a small world” will once again take guests of all ages on “the happiest cruise that ever sailed.”

This classic attraction has been renovated and enhanced while retaining the world-renowned charm that holds such a special place in the hearts of Disneyland guests. The “it’s a small world” journey continues to celebrate children of the world and their message of harmony and friendship. And now, for the first time, guests will be able to find some of the child dolls dressed as their favorite Disney characters, in the countries where their stories take place. For example, dolls dressed in Aladdin and Jasmine costumes play in the Middle East scene, and a doll dressed as Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” appears in the Great Britain scene.

Guests will enjoy riding “it’s a small world” again and again as they search for the 29 Disney and Disney•Pixar characters now represented in the attraction. Some appear as child dolls and some are playful-looking toys, such as the White Rabbit who accompanies Alice. The new doll costumes and toys are fashioned in the same artistic style that has made “it’s a small world” an icon around the globe. That style was created by art director, color stylist and Disney Legend Mary Blair, whose sense of design shaped “it’s a small world” from the very beginning.

“We know that many people have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to relive their ‘it’s a small world’ memories and to create new ones with children, grandchildren and friends,” said Disney Imagineer art director Kim Irvine. “It’s a pleasure to once again offer this beloved attraction to Disneyland guests, now with some special Disney enhancements.”

  • Among the enhancements is a new “Spirit of America” scene based on original concept art by Disney Legend Mary Blair, in keeping with the “it’s a small world” theme that friendship crosses all nations, including the United States.
  • Child dolls that are costumed as stylized representations of their favorite Disney characters can be spotted in several scenes.
  • The children in many “it’s a small world” scenes will have a variety of new stylized toys to play with, inspired by Disney and Disney•Pixar characters: Woody and Jessie for “Spirit of America,” a Mushu dragon kite for China, “The Three Caballeros” marionettes for Latin America, and others.
  • Additional fresh touches will be heard in the augmented “it’s a small world” soundtrack. The renowned “it’s a small world” song, written by Academy Award®-winning composers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman (“Mary Poppins”), will still play throughout the attraction. Now, however, some subtle film music is woven into the song as counterpoint melodies, fitting the characters and scenes.
  • All of the boats in “it’s a small world” are new and designed to evoke the look and feel of boats that children of the world might play with anywhere.

The new "Spirit of America" scene showcases American farming and the deserts of America's wild west. Above the exit of the room is the famous Hollywood Bowl.

A lot of fans have noted that this scene comes off as awkward and forced, and the Toy Story characters have been widely regarded as the worst character additions.

"it's a news world"
The reopening of "it's a small world" with its controversial new additions caught the media's attention. If you missed out on all of the headlines late last week, here's a quick list:

Outside of the small world, the rest of Disneyland continues to be home to various construction projects.

Main Street continues its repaving project.

And work continues on making the curbs in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle more accessible.

Plaza Inn is still being worked on as well. The Restaurant remains open during its refurbishment.

And the rock work surrounding Big Thunder Ranch is getting some paint.

A peek behind the construction wall shows lots of work, including a new structure being built.

Matt "2DieFR" Gottula fills in for me this week in the "Around the Park" section with these fantastic photos.

THEME PARK HOURS 2/09 - 2/15
For a complete listing of theme park hours, please visit the Theme Park Calendar
Disneyland Park
Monday: 9 am - 10 pm
Tuesday - Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm
Friday - Sunday: 8 am - 12 Midnight

Disney's California Adventure Park
Monday: 10 am - 7 pm
Tuesday - Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm
Friday - Saturday: 10 am - 9 pm
Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm

Disneyland Park
  • Haunted Mansion: Closed to remove Holiday overlay. Reopens February 14.
  • Remember... Dreams Come True Fireworks Spectacular: Show dark. Will return for Feb. 13-16 holiday weekend. The show will return to a regular schedule in March.
  • Jungle Cruise: Closed February 10-12 for a brief refurbishment.

Disney's California Adventure Park
  • Bakery Tour: Closed for refurbishment through March 13.
  • Sun Wheel: Closed. Will re-open as Mickey's Fun Wheel in April 2009.
  • Games of the Boardwalk: Closed. Will re-open with new themes in April 2009.
  • Paradise Bay: Drained for construction of upcoming Disney's World of Color show.
  • Disney's World of Color Nighttime Spectacular: New show under construction. Debuts Spring 2010.
  • Golden State Amphitheater: Closed. New, larger amphitheater for Disney's World of Color viewing under construction in same location. The new amphitheater will open December 2009.


Sunday February 8 marked the 8th anniversary of Disney's California Adventure park. As you all know by now, the struggling sister park to Disneyland is embarking on a multi-year, billion dollar remodel and expansion project with various projects already underway! By 2012, Disney's California Adventure should be a shining jewel next to Walt Disney's Original Magic Kingdom.

But what to do until 2012? Well, you track the progress of the park's transformation, of course! The Disney's California Adventure Project Tracker is one of MiceChat's hottest topics, and due to its popularity it is now in its third incarnation. The Project Tracker provides the latest news and information to the on-going and upcoming projects on the drawing board for DCA and also features links to concept art galleries. So if you haven't already, go on over and see what all the fuss is about. CLICK HERE!

Alright, that should finish up today's update. I'd like to say thank you once again to our contributors, MacDaddy, Photo Matt, and 2DieFR who made this week's update possible. You can view more of MacDaddy's "it's a small world" photos in MiceChat's "it's a small world" review thread HERE. And PhotoMatt has more photos in the review thread as well HERE.

Thanks for reading and be sure to share your thoughts and discuss today's update in the comments section below.

Also, if you still haven't already, follow us on Twitter today: Twitter offers mobile updates sent directly to your cell phone so follow us and sign up for mobile updates to get mini Dateline Disneyland updates throughout the week! Or, if you've got an iPhone or G1, download a free Twitter app (like Twinkle or Twitterific) and stay connected with a simple tap of your finger!

See you here again next week!
- Andy

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Updated 02-09-2009 at 02:59 PM by Dateline Disneyland (Added column banner and fixed link coding.)



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  1. Zoe Necrosis's Avatar
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    Nice report, of course. I'm going to try my best to reserve judgement until I see Small World in person, but my reflexive reaction right now is not a positive one.
  2. Wendygirl's Avatar
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    I love rain photos. Nice report. I am also reserving judgment until I see ISAW. My first gut reaction upon seeing the photos is that I think Woody and and Jessie are the ones that fit the least and I don't like Stitch on the surfboard. The others seem to "fit" the look.
  3. Instidude's Avatar
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    Love the update. The small world America section is very similar to what I saw at DL Paris, with the exception of Woody, Buzz and Jessie.

    I wasn't a big fan of it there (as it showed Americans as being "cowboys", basically reinforcing the European stereotype of us), and it looks like the same thing in the new small world.
  4. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Excellent update Andy. Loved the shots from all the contributors this week. Some really excellent and professional looking photos!

    And I was VERY happy to see the "Buy Me A Dole Whip" button. I think that others, like myself, will appreciate the opportunity to support your long drive to the park and countless hours you spend to prepare this update every week!
  5. vfire's Avatar
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    Woody and Jessie have to go...
  6. whamo's Avatar
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    Woody and Jessie have to go? No! I read where Six Flags may go under next year due to debt loads.
  7. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Great update Andy! It is funny to see Dan-Tasmic in the second picture walking in the CONSTRUCTION ROUND-UP.
  8. peoplemover1's Avatar
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    Great update Andy!
    I too will hold off on judging until I see it in person this weekend but I had the same reaction about Jessie and Woody... what's up with that?!
    There is a great hidden Mickey in the last IASW picture on the ceiling!

    And I definitely will buy you a dole whip!!
  9. Kritter's Avatar
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    Great Update!

    I love all the new additions to small world even the "Spirit of America" scene and Jesse, Woody and Bullseye!

    It's always nice to see something new!
  10. b236en's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update
  11. Dick O Dell's Avatar
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    I really like all the additions and so do my 9 year old and 3 year old and isn't their age group the target for this attraction anyway? All these people getting their undies in a bunch because a "classic" attraction has been modified it really a bunch of drama for nothing in my opinion.

    by the way did anyone else notice the hidden Mickey in the last picture showing the finale? Has that hM always been there or is it new?
  12. SpectroMan's Avatar
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    You beat me to it.
  13. MickeyMousePal's Avatar
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    Great Update

    The America section of it's a small world is the weakest country. Can't wait to ride Haunted Mansion, again.
  14. MonstersGoBoo!'s Avatar
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    dland_lover and DanT are in the construction wall picture!

    Thank you for the fabulous update!
  15. disney-fan-reborn's Avatar
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    I like the new additions to IASW. I was worried that they wouldn't fit the theme/style of the ride. I just wish that they didn't showcase or focus on them as much.
  16. Goover's Avatar
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    My favorite addition out of all of this is by far the alice doll. My goodness if that thing ever went on sale...
  17. gawama's Avatar
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    Great weekly report! Thank you for the photos.
  18. hadesthecat's Avatar
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    I was under the impression that the additions would look exactly as they do in the movies, overall I think they're not bad and could absolutley look worse (woody, jessie & stitch need to go though!). I always did love working DL in the rain. Keep up the great work.
  19. saphron37's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update! I like that the new characters in small world look a little different, cant wait to see them for myself! Went to WDW MK this weekend and really felt lost, it is nowhere near as wonderful and magical as DL! Your photos fill the void of missing DL!
  20. wdwnut4life's Avatar
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    awesome pics, luv the new iasw!!!!!
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