A Different look at Disney...

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Before we start on this brief commentary and special extended photo essay on the 'it's a small world' attraction, I do have to confess something; I'm really not all that enthusiastic about this ride.

For me the dolls can be unnerving, Mary Blair's and Rolly Crump's folk/abstract designs are not to my taste and that earworm of a tune by the Sherman Brothers I have no doubt is used by the CIA to torture terrorists with.

No pause that refreshes here!

That said, ever since we were the first to report on the proposed changes to the attraction a few months ago, the plans not only struck a bad chord with a lot of folks (even inspiring an L.A. Times editorial) but began to bother me, who at one point many years ago felt that arming all riders with bazookas on this ride would be a mighty fine idea.

Rolly Crump and Walt Disney

What finally sparked this piece today though was an e-mail and a letter to the Times fired off by two Disney suits; both of whom glibly dismissed the many concerns and criticisms expressed by the park's aficionados by claiming to know precisely what a still very dead Walt Disney might have thought.

What the man who approved SuperStar Limo and the file clerk both forgot though is that when you build brands by selling the customer on a strong emotional relationship with them, as well as exploiting their nostalgia, you can't suddenly dismiss their subsequent concerns as it suits you. You have to respect the audience you built.

Think pink!

The premise behind small world is simple, it's a ride about 'the children of the world' and for over forty years it has continued to pull in solid rider numbers despite a gradual decline in show quality. Thanks to an extremely well executed holiday makeover it has even grown those numbers to become a vital component of the Christmas season plans for the park.

So why mess with the successful original concept by turning it into a character hunt? Why not just restore and enhance the original? Forget the American section, we're the hosts you know. And why not save the Disney characters for the holiday version - and make them into toys for the children?

The ride stills in this photo essay today are from the 1964 "Disneyland Goes to the World's Fair" TV show. (Apparently they filmed the attraction as it was set-up on a soundstage before it was shipped to New York.)

The colors you see here are untouched and even accounting for film or video reproduction issues show small world used to be a much more vibrant ride when it debuted. The shots are not in any particular order and have been selected to highlight the colors used.

...foolish mortals

No dikes?

Borsch Bunch

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2008 Al Lutz

A Different look at Disney...
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