With the 50th anniversary of It’s A Small World, it might be a good idea to see how the ride plays out in different parks around the world. You might think that the same attraction in different locations is simply that – an exact duplicate made in another country. And while largely true, it’s not completely true. There are subtle differences between them. While it doesn’t impact the overall enjoyment of the ride, it’s fun to note the differences between the parks.
For the true Small World enthusiast, Disneyland is the place to be. Not only the original home of the It’s A Small World attraction after the 1964 World’s Fair, it’s also the one that has hosted the most innovations including the inclusion of iconic Disney characters as part of the children of the world. It has a distinct look, feel, and ambiance that the other parks do not seem to have. Part of it is the huge clock tower and parade of children of the world that happens every quarter hour that doesn’t happen at it’s Florida counterpart. Part of it is that guests board outside the attraction instead of inside a building. But part of it is the distance of the facade from the guest. It makes it seem bigger, grander, and more majestic than in other parks where you can almost literally walk up to it. The It’s A Small World Holiday is also done more extensively than at any other park, with thousands of sparkling lights on the facade and additions to every room in the ride including the big finale.
Walt Disney World’s version of the ride is completely enclosed within a building including the facade. There is no parade of wooden dolls representing the different nations. The ambience is not as grand. And there is no holiday rendition in Florida. In Tokyo and Paris, there is a holiday version, but it is not as extensive as Disneyland’s. The boarding area is again inside a building instead of outside, and it seems somehow smaller. The Tokyo version feels smaller when you approach it. Much of the ride is the same except that the Japan area inside is much bigger and the finale is sung in Japanese. In France, the attraction has a different clock face and an added Middle East section complete with the main song sung in Arabic. And Hong Kong Disneyland is reported to be the most intricate of the different versions with an expanded Asia section and songs in four additional languages not found in other versions of the ride – Cantonese, Putonghua, Korean, and Tagalog. It also has more Disney characters than its California counterpart. Interestingly, Hong Kong Disneyland opened without the iconic ride. It was the only park since Disneyland to open without the attraction.
Join in the fun of celebrating the 50th anniversary of this iconic attraction. Already, Disney has donated $150,000 to UNICEF to help children all over the world, but you can help. Go to smallworld50.com and Disney will give up to an additional $100,000. They will donate $1 for every virtual Small World doll made online and another $1 for every video submitted. They are also planning a massive worldwide sing-a-long of the titular song at every theme park at the same time on April 10th. Keep checking their website and Disney blogs for more information. The ride is so popular because the song is catchy, the kids are cute, but most of all they offer a message of hope to people across the globe that perhaps one day, we can act like the small world we are. As it says in the unsung third verse of the song, “It’s a world of wonder / A world of worth / And in years to come / We’ll know peace on earth / We will open our eyes / And we’ll all realize / It’s a small world after all.”