Disney Ride Secrets: it’s a small world

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing some of the secrets you’ll find at Disney attractions.

Disney Ride Secrets: it's a small world

Since it’s debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the “it’s a small world” attraction has delighted guests of all ages. The attraction was originally created for the UNICEF pavilion at the fair and was sponsored by Pepsi. Through the use of animatronic dolls and the beautifully written song by The Sherman Brothers, “it’s a small world” shares a message of unity for children (and adults) all around the world. Let’s take a look at some of the history and trivia which make this attraction so special.

  • WED Enterprises created “it’s a small world” in just 11 months! They also created several other attractions for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
  • The attraction was created in Burbank, California and then shipped across the country to the New York World’s Fair.
  • “it’s a small world” was not always the name of this ride. While it was being created, the working title of the attraction was “Children of the World.” This version of the attraction was to feature the national anthems of many different countries playing all at once. Upon walking through the attraction with The Sherman Brothers, Walt Disney asked the songwriters to create one song that could easily be translated into many different languages.
  • At Walt’s request, The Sherman Brothers wrote a lovely ballad for the attraction; however, Walt wanted something more upbeat and cheerful. So the brothers sped up the tempo and gave us the version of “it’s a small world” we all know and love.

  • The artistic style of “it’s a small world” comes from animator and imagineer Mary Blair.
  • One of the children in the Western Europe section of Disneyland’s attraction is designed as a tribute to Mary Blair. As you pass the Eiffel Tower, look back and you’ll see the Mary Blair doll with short blonde hair wearing a yellow dress with flowers.
  • Disneyland’s version of this attraction features quite a few characters from Disney films throughout the attraction. You’ll find characters such as Lilo & Stitch, Pinocchio, Ariel, Cinderella, and more throughout the ride.
Disney Ride Secrets: it's a small world - Cinderella

Photo credit: Sam Howzit via Foter.com / CC BY

  • The figures in “it’s a small world” are designed to resemble children’s art projects. If you look closely at Jaq and Gus, the mice from Cinderella, you may notice their whiskers and tails just happen to be made of pipe cleaners!
  • If you’re a fan of literature, you may also notice Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza also in the Western Europe scene of the attraction.
  • Many of the scenes and characters for “it’s a small world” were designed by Marc Davis. His wife Alice, designed the costumes for the animatronic dolls.
  • Many of the spinning golden toppers located on buildings throughout “it’s a small world” are exact large-scale replicas of earrings worn by imagineer Leota Toombs.

“it’s a small world” has become an iconic Disney park attraction with a version of the ride being included in the Magic Kingdom style parks found at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

For more Disney ride secrets,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

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Emily Powell Fox
Emily Powell Fox

One of the only rides my 4 year old wanted to go on over and over again. “The ride with all the dolls! Again!”


Aww! How cute! I do love the dolls; the hula girls from Hawaii are my favorites!


I haven’t been on It’s a Small World in so long! I love the artistic style of Mary Blair and had no idea she was made into a doll!

Andrew Stanley
Andrew Stanley

I love this ride for its whimsy. The song gets a little much for me, but I love the queue loop. 🙂


The characters in the ride are so cute! I love the animals too, especially the hippos!

Lee Beatens
Lee Beatens

I can’t get enough of this attraction. Even the song!


Me too! I’ve been known to listen to the entire ride loop…and then want to play it again. I love this song and I love hearing all the different languages!




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