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  1. #1

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    In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Here is an essay written about Why Small World shouldn't be changed. A Month in the making. Feel free to discuss it.

    “It’s A Mall World After All”
    Disneyland’s famous attraction, "It’s A Small World," is known for its iconic song and themes of world peace and harmony through the eyes of the children of the globe. Mary Blair designed the attraction to be a charming display of children dressed in their traditional costumes singing about global harmony and unity. An upcoming change to the attraction however, causes many to see these themes of harmony and unity change into themes of commercialism. In January of 2008, the attraction went down for a refurbishment on its canal. Later however, the news was spilled that Disney was planning to add over thirty-six Disney characters, remove its classic rainforest scene, and replace it with an “Up with America” scene. Such a change is against the themes of the ride and against the wishes of its creator, Walt Disney. Changing It’s A Small World by removing its rainforest scene and adding Disney Characters is detrimental to the ride’s theme and integrity, therefore the project should be stopped immediately.


    Disneyland’s “It’s A Small World” owes its theme to Mary Blair’s vision of children at peace in the world, therefore Disney characters have no purpose in the attraction. “It’s A Small World” was originally created for the 1964 World’s fair as a tribute to UNICEF (Sampson). The attraction was designed to star only the children of the world. Adding these characters will take the focus away from the children of the world who are the rightful stars of the attraction. When the ride reopens in November, it will no longer be focused on children celebrating peace in the world, but will be a ride of “Where’s Waldo” proportions. Children will be busy looking for their favorite Disney Characters and leave the ride thinking only of taking home their own “Small World”-style Cinderella or Pinocchio. Conveniently, Disney will have these dolls available for purchase in the gift shop located right next to the exit of the attraction. Some of the characters will even have their own retrospective theme music playing behind them in the updated attraction. This will be the first time that the music will ever have deviated from the classic “It’s A Small World After All” song in the attraction’s entire history. The children of the world and their melodious song will be pushed aside for marketing to bring in the big bucks on some of their most popular Disney movies. Mary Blair’s Artistic vision is one that can’t be duplicated; the characters will be but a feeble attempt at her style. The Characters look like plastic and not similar to the lifelike and geometric styles of the original attraction. Dolls such as Baloo from The Jungle Book, Woody and Jessie from A Toy’s Story, and Bambi are abominations. The themes of global unity and peace through the eyes of children will deteriorate, leaving a stale and heartless advertisement of Disney franchises, the only gain will be to advertise the Disney brand to children. It is just a step back for the park and the attraction in so many bitter ways.


    The attraction’s rainforest is an original scene designed especially for Disneyland; replacing it with an America scene is against the principles of the ride and its creators. Walt Disney never wanted “It’s A Small World” to feature America. The attraction was created with the theme of visiting the rest of the world and all of its exotic wonders, and therefore Walt Disney didn’t find America appropriate to the theme (“It’s A Small World”). Walt decided that America should only be represented in the finale with the rest of the world’s children together and it is still represented today with a cowboy and Native American chief. Mary Blair’s rainforest scene represents a major portion of the world. Removing this classic scene is disrespectful to the native peoples who have lived in the earth’s rainforests for centuries and to the people of Papua New Guinea, who are also represented in the scene. The rainforest room is the last room in the attraction until the finale. It is a profane gesture to place America at the end because it makes a statement that says, “We saved the best for last”. The America room will be flashy, loud, and glamorous (Lutz). The changes will also make America the only country in the attraction to have a room all to itself, destroying the themes of global equality. The rainforest is one of the attraction’s most classic and majestic scenes and doesn’t deserve to be removed for a cheep representation of a corporate, rich America.


    Though Walt Disney Imagineering explains that Disneyland’s attractions should be constantly evolving, the changes must always respect the original visions of the attractions. Disneyland is always trying to keep its attractions fresh so that the guest will always have something new to see when they ride their favorite attraction. One way to accomplish this while still maintaining the attraction’s theme would be by adding new children and new countries. Over the years, many new countries have been formed and many more less known nations have never gotten the chance to be represented. Perhaps a child dressed in the traditional clothes of Iraq could be added to the attraction, and another child, dressed in the traditional costume of the Samoan peoples could be added to the Polynesian scene. This will help to freshen the attraction up while making the themes of world peace and global unity even stronger. The changes that Disney currently wants to impose have nothing to do with those themes. Disneyland is place of change; in fact Walt Disney stated that it would never be completed. However, if the changes do nothing to help add to theme and quality, then they are a waste of time and effort to the park.


    “It’s A Small World” is a tribute to world peace and unity through children and should remain as such. The addition of Disney Characters and the removal of the rainforest in favor of America are both disrespectful and detrimental to the attraction. Disney Characters are nothing but a corporate advertisement and do nothing to improve or help the theme. The loss of the rainforest will be replaced with a vain look at America, a country never meant to be in the attraction at all. These changes are disrespectful to the people of the rainforest and two of the world’s greatest artists, Mary Blair and Walt Disney. Even Mary Blair’s son, Kevin Blair sent an open letter to the Walt Disney Company in the name of the entire Blair family speaking out against the changes (Blair). Currently, Disney is so afraid of the anger of the general pubic, that when the attraction reopens to guests in late November, every change that has already been installed will be hidden from view, covered in black cloth in a feeble attempt to confuse the media and to stop the harsh criticism from hurting their holiday season tourism (Lutz). Disney is a company that thrives on guest feedback. People should make it a point to contact Disney and tell them how much of mistake these changes are. Until the world is fully educated of these great wrongs, Disney will not feel the pressure to stop these changes. “It’s A Small World” is the world’s most lasting gesture of world peace; the messages that this attraction stands for should be protected by the world from the jaws of a money hungry corporation for many years to come.









    Works Cited
    C. Bishop, Bryan. “The CEO’s New Groove: An Open Letter to the Walt Disney Company.”
    22 February 2004. The Simon. 2 October 2008.
    <http://www.thesimon.com/magazine/art...e_open_letter_
    walt_disney_company.html>

    L. Blair, Kevin. “The Blair Family Speaks.” 18 March 2008. ReImagineering. 1 October 2008.
    <http://imagineerebirth.blogspot.com/2008/03/blair-family-speaks.html>

    Frost, John. “It’s A Small World- Imagineer Marty Sklar letter to Disney Fans.”
    The Disney Blog. 3 October 2008. < http://thedisneyblog.com/2008/04/04/its-a-small-world-imagineer-marty-sklar-letter/>

    “It’s A Small World.” Hong Kong Disneyland. 5 October 2008.
    < http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com/hkdl/html/iasw/en_US/index.html>

    “It’s A Small World”. Santa Clarita, CA: The “E” Ticket, 2002.

    Lutz, Al. “Previews.”3 October 2008. Miceage. 4 October 2008.
    <http://miceage.micechat.com/allutz/al100708a.htm>

    Mahr, Krista. “The Fifth Happiest Place on Earth.” 2 May 2008. Time Magazine.
    2 October 2008. <http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1736906,00.html>

    Sampson, Wade. “The History of It’s A Small World.” 7 May 2008. Mouseplanet.
    3 October 2008. < http://www.mouseplanet.com/articles.php?art=ww080507ws>

    “Save the Small World.” Savetherainforest.com. 5 March 2008. 2 October 2008.
    <http://savethesmallworld.com/>
    Last edited by Walt Jr.; 11-18-2008 at 04:41 PM.
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  2. #2

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    It's a well written piece...but as it is now mid November, isn't it a bit late to call for a stop to the refurb? It sucks, but the battle was fought, and lost (for now). The changes have been done by now.

    Personally, although I am against the changes, I would rather ride the reopened ride when I go in December and see the changes for my self rather than ride it and see "black cloth" here and there so I hope Disney doesn't follow through with that silly plan.

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    I've been pretty quiet on the Small World debate, but I guess I'll add my two cents.

    I understand why people would be upset, it's an iconic, original attraction that has already gained notoriety over the years. I get that. But I also get that Disney needs to make money. With today's youth, a simple little boat ride with unfamiliar characters might not make much sense and might not be a catalyst to go to the park. While this was never really an issue in the past, the next generation of Disneylanders have already grown up past The Wonderful World of Disney and classic Disney shows (Swiss Family Robinson, Old Yeller, etc.) and now they're fed cartoons and CGI films. I don't think they should muck around too much with rides, but what they did to Pirates I think is acceptable - keeping the classic ride, just adding a few modern touches.

    Bottom line, I don't blame Disney for keeping it relative to today's audiences and I'm grateful all they did was add some characters and change a room as opposed to completely gutting it and replacing it with something less memorable.

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by brenden View Post
    I've been pretty quiet on the Small World debate, but I guess I'll add my two cents.

    I understand why people would be upset, it's an iconic, original attraction that has already gained notoriety over the years. I get that. But I also get that Disney needs to make money. With today's youth, a simple little boat ride with unfamiliar characters might not make much sense and might not be a catalyst to go to the park. While this was never really an issue in the past, the next generation of Disneylanders have already grown up past The Wonderful World of Disney and classic Disney shows (Swiss Family Robinson, Old Yeller, etc.) and now they're fed cartoons and CGI films. I don't think they should muck around too much with rides, but what they did to Pirates I think is acceptable - keeping the classic ride, just adding a few modern touches.

    Bottom line, I don't blame Disney for keeping it relative to today's audiences and I'm grateful all they did was add some characters and change a room as opposed to completely gutting it and replacing it with something less memorable.
    Hear hear.

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by brenden View Post
    I've been pretty quiet on the Small World debate, but I guess I'll add my two cents.

    I understand why people would be upset, it's an iconic, original attraction that has already gained notoriety over the years. I get that. But I also get that Disney needs to make money. With today's youth, a simple little boat ride with unfamiliar characters might not make much sense and might not be a catalyst to go to the park. While this was never really an issue in the past, the next generation of Disneylanders have already grown up past The Wonderful World of Disney and classic Disney shows (Swiss Family Robinson, Old Yeller, etc.) and now they're fed cartoons and CGI films. I don't think they should muck around too much with rides, but what they did to Pirates I think is acceptable - keeping the classic ride, just adding a few modern touches.

    Bottom line, I don't blame Disney for keeping it relative to today's audiences and I'm grateful all they did was add some characters and change a room as opposed to completely gutting it and replacing it with something less memorable.
    To the first section of your statement that i put in bold...many people go to Disneyland for the superior quality in theming that comes along with the attractions/rides so your point about "one boat ride" not attracting people to the park is quite moot IMO.

    To the second bolded part, I fail to see how showing children that other children all around the world can be happy and play just like they do is not "relative" to today's audience. Adding branded characters will not reinforce the actual THEME of the ride, which is global harmony and how it can start at the child's level. As Disneyland is a THEMEpark, the imagineers should take theme seriously and not put branded characters in for the sole purpose of increasing sales at the IASW store whne people get out. Yes Disneyland is a business...but it is a successful busines because for over 50 years they put theme higher on the list than excuses to slip in their own characters.

    The new addisions have the potential to draw away the audiences attention to details and the main theme of the attraction. The ride will be reduced to "let's see if we can spot 'character x' in this room and 'character y' in that room instead of "let's look at the various details and ethinicity represented from all over our planet."

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goofy Daddy View Post
    he new addisions have the potential to draw away the audiences attention to details and the main theme of the attraction. The ride will be reduced to "let's see if we can spot 'character x' in this room and 'character y' in that room instead of "let's look at the various details and ethinicity represented from all over our planet."
    Sigh..

    I HIGHLY doubt that the general public realized It's a small world ever has a message, let alone understood it. Adding characters increases interest in the attraction and gives guests who haven't been on in a while a reason to ride once again; and it also could potentially put a few dimes in the mouse's pockets. It's a win-win for Disney and Guests.

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Well this is going nicely... already following the path of previous threads... and here we are still on page 1... this should be good.

    As to my two cents I LOVED Al's comments about a smaller rainforest to hopefully placate the "Save Campaign" crowd, and that Disney PR will be in full spin mode as a defensive measure.
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  8. #8

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goofy Daddy View Post
    To the first section of your statement that i put in bold...many people go to Disneyland for the superior quality in theming that comes along with the attractions/rides so your point about "one boat ride" not attracting people to the park is quite moot IMO.

    To the second bolded part, I fail to see how showing children that other children all around the world can be happy and play just like they do is not "relative" to today's audience. Adding branded characters will not reinforce the actual THEME of the ride, which is global harmony and how it can start at the child's level. As Disneyland is a THEMEpark, the imagineers should take theme seriously and not put branded characters in for the sole purpose of increasing sales at the IASW store whne people get out. Yes Disneyland is a business...but it is a successful busines because for over 50 years they put theme higher on the list than excuses to slip in their own characters.

    The new addisions have the potential to draw away the audiences attention to details and the main theme of the attraction. The ride will be reduced to "let's see if we can spot 'character x' in this room and 'character y' in that room instead of "let's look at the various details and ethinicity represented from all over our planet."
    What I highlighted in bold makes perfect sense.

    First, Disneyland became successful not because of Characters, but it became successful because of the theming and the ability to take people to places they have never been. I mean, look at Peter Pan's Flight- is it "just a dark ride?" It's a dark ride that takes you soaring over Neverland. Look at Tower of Terror- is it just a "simple Free-fall?" It's a failing elevator in a deserted and haunted hotel. Or look at "Pirates"- just a "simple boat ride?" It takes people out to the carribbean and shows what Pirates do, and the trouble they cause and get into. So Goofy Daddy has an arguement.

    Secondly, "it's a small world!" was not meant to be a showcase of characters. The children are suppose to be universal- showing people that they are just like you and me. When you put the characters in it, you are just basically destroying the message- and promoting commercialism.

    And so my two-cents comes here:

    The kids in "it's a small world" weren't really suppose to be characters. They were to show that they were just like you and me (like I said above). To put characters in is an insult to the message. The ride itself is universal, and what they are doing in the Hong Kong version (as well as the original landmark version here at DLR) is wrong.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra5drgntKOI

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goofy Daddy View Post
    To the first section of your statement that i put in bold...many people go to Disneyland for the superior quality in theming that comes along with the attractions/rides so your point about "one boat ride" not attracting people to the park is quite moot IMO.

    To the second bolded part, I fail to see how showing children that other children all around the world can be happy and play just like they do is not "relative" to today's audience. Adding branded characters will not reinforce the actual THEME of the ride, which is global harmony and how it can start at the child's level. As Disneyland is a THEMEpark, the imagineers should take theme seriously and not put branded characters in for the sole purpose of increasing sales at the IASW store whne people get out. Yes Disneyland is a business...but it is a successful busines because for over 50 years they put theme higher on the list than excuses to slip in their own characters.

    The new addisions have the potential to draw away the audiences attention to details and the main theme of the attraction. The ride will be reduced to "let's see if we can spot 'character x' in this room and 'character y' in that room instead of "let's look at the various details and ethinicity represented from all over our planet."
    I'm not really trying to argue with you or get into a heated discussion, because I understand your point of view. But I'm also not clinging to the past. I realize that Disneyland is always changing and keeping up with the times and has to stay relevant in order to stay afloat. If nothing was ever changed at Disneyland, everyone would get bored and lose interest.

    You said people go to Disneyland for the superior theming, which is plausible, but honestly, how many of those people pass through the gates every day VS the number of families bringing their kids? And how many of those kids "get" theming? How many of those kids want to go on Buzz Lightyear because their favorite movie is Toy Story? It's all about keeping up with today's audience, in my opinion, and in order to do that, Disney needs to keep things fresh and exciting for people to keep coming back.

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    You make very valid points, and I think Disney should be ashamed of themselves.

    An "Up With America" room is going to be 100% against what the ride originally stood for. The ride stood for peace, unity, and friendship across the entire world. And if that point wasn't made enough, the rainforest scene further reinforced the fact that even though we are all separate we are all one with nature, that even though we may look and act all differently we are all the same on the inside.

    The America room is only going to help indoctrinate children to racial prejudices as it will teach them that despite the rest of the world coming together, America stands alone. Whereas before the Cowboy and Indian celebrated with the world, we will soon be disinviting ourselves from that party. It will show them not to join with the rest of the world because Disney needs someone to make their merchandise for 4 cents a day because no one in this country will.

    Good job, Disney, for taking such a magical experience and making it even better.

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    I missed the different part.


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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister View Post
    I missed the different part.
    Ummmm... wrong Smiley... I heard they are tossing in a game on PP for Micechatters called "Whack a Horse"
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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by brenden View Post
    I'm not really trying to argue with you or get into a heated discussion, because I understand your point of view. But I'm also not clinging to the past. I realize that Disneyland is always changing and keeping up with the times and has to stay relevant in order to stay afloat. If nothing was ever changed at Disneyland, everyone would get bored and lose interest.
    Nothing heated here, just opinionatin'

    I am not against change at all, and I agree, Disney does indeed need to change to maintain a connection with their patrons as society in general changes with the times. My point is that the changes do not need to be based on mostly a drive to "display the brand" in order to push more merchandise as this change to IASW "seems" to be. The changes should make sense and stay within the context of the actual theme of the attraction.

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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Jr. View Post
    Here is an essay written about Why Small World shouldn't be changed. Feel free to discuss it.
    Well written essay IMO. The title, "It's a Mall World After All," is dead on what the IASM refurb is about -- and what Disneyland has become.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


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    Re: In Retrospect: Why Small World Shouldn't be Changed (Different I Promise)

    Quote Originally Posted by stitchon View Post
    Sigh..

    I HIGHLY doubt that the general public realized It's a small world ever has a message, let alone understood it. Adding characters increases interest in the attraction and gives guests who haven't been on in a while a reason to ride once again; and it also could potentially put a few dimes in the mouse's pockets. It's a win-win for Disney and Guests.
    sigh right back but even deeper and add an eyeroll also for emphasis...

    First, if it is true that "most people" don't realize that IASW has a theme or message to it (which is unlikely) then answer to that is still not to throw company characters in it. That is the equivalent of Disney saying "well since most of our patrons are too stupid to understand the rides message lets just dangle a shiney object in front of them and they'll feel better". That's not a good way to do business, at least not a sustainable business. The "shiny object" tactic works great if you are just trying to cash in on a temporary fad, not if you are trying to set up an attraction that is supposed to remain and continue to entertain for years as most good Disney attractions are supposed to do.

    If somehow the rather obvious message of IASW is being missed, then it is time to replace the whole attraction, not jam brand characters in it. Fortunately the theme/message isn't missed and is by most accounts very well known.

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