large boats that carry you through a worldly adventure of culture,
heritage, and diversity showcasing dolls from around the world...and
a very catchy song.
Magic Kingdom Tickets
2 Free Disney Tickets here
As you approach this ride, you start to hear a loud but
methodic noise. Centered in front of this huge building, is a large clock
tower, ticking away each second.
When the clock reaches the hour, a spectacle erupts of
fun and enjoyment for kids of all ages! I was there during the 2 o'clock hour,
and the clock bells rang twice, and then doors opened up from the clock
tower, along with panels opening up all over the front of the building.
Singing soared over the waiting area, as Small World Wooden Dolls, came
out, parading in a small circle around the base of the clock. The dolls
were from all types of countries and sported their unique clothing
heritage. Big smiley faces swayed back and forth on the building as they
sang the famous "Small World" tune. It was by far the coolest thing
I had seen to showcase an attraction!
Inside the ride is basically your boat taking you
through every country imaginable. Small dolls, almost like animatronics,
sing in unison the famous, and sometimes annoying "It's A Small World
After All." The scenes are breathaking though, and favorites among the
kids! I loved to watch the kids in our boat point and laugh at the silly
antics of the Mountain Goats singing or the Penquins sliding across the
ice. Each Country you enter sings the song in their native tongue, which
is a GREAT education for anyone who hears it! The ride ends with the word
GOOD-BYE in all different languages written all over the tunnel you leave
So what's the difference between WDW and Disneyland's? It's
actually pretty simple- WDW's entrance is located INSIDE the building, and
there is no clock tower, or large decorated building, for that matter. You
board your boat inside and WDW's Small World decorations are in the line
area. WDW's is located in Fantasy
Land, not Toontown, but the ride
is pretty much the same. I am sure their are some differences in the ride,
dolls, etc.. but nothing I could actually see without doing some serious
comparison with a Small World Ride expert.
It's A Small World is a classic because of it's
history and how it became to be at both Disney Parks. It makes me sad to
hear so many want it removed or updated, because I feel to much of that is
happening already in both Disney World and Land. It is a great ride for
the kids, and even adults should give it at least one chance to experience
a piece of Disney history.
It's sometimes hard to imagine a world where every nation sings side by
side, where the best of all cultures is enjoyed rather than criticized, or
where for about 10 minutes you can forget the daily news reports and focus
on a grand idea of world peace. Yes, It's a Small World is only an
attraction at Disney, but for those moments riding in a boat around the
"world," I caught a fleeting glimpse of an ideal world.
It's a Small World is located in Fantasyland at the Magic
Kingdom. It remains a Disney original, with the same charm it offered
years ago, before it was surpassed by bigger thrill rides and
technological wonders. The lines aren't as long as they once were and even The Unofficial Guide to Disney World only mentions that you should
see this attraction whenever you have hit all the bigger draws. I suggest
visiting It's a Small World anytime that you are tired of the crowds and
need a cheerful pick-me-up.
The Wonder of it All
It's a Small World is an attraction that will delight
young children, and many adults with its animated singing and dancing
dolls from around the world. The average wait times on one of the busier
days at the Magic kingdom were lower than most Fantasyland attractions.
Because you travel on large boats through this adventure, there is good
loading system operating. The lines move smoothly and the boats are
Once you enter the waiting line you will hear the well
known It's a Small World tune echoing around you. Those that report not
liking this attraction often comment that the song remained ringing in
their heads days later. Others will find themselves humming the tune in
the shower, as they recall a world far away, where dancing and singing
dolls inspired smiles.
Once you are seated on a boat, the ride moves along at
a leisurely pace, allowing you to take in all the different details of the
animated dolls. The dolls sing throughout the ride, some in their native
languages. The colors painted all around you will take you back to the
early 1970's. I could not recognize any changes to this attraction from
when I rode it as a child. I could swear that the Brady Bunch used the
same paint colors in their house!
There is much to notice on your trip around the world.
Details surround the doll exhibits with some easily recognized and others
harder to understand. Explaining where each group of dolls were from was
sometimes a challenge for us. The kids were fascinated with all the
different cultures, and the beautiful costuming. Disney has definitely
done a great job with keeping this attraction true to the original.
The ride itself is housed in a refreshingly cool
building, with a duration of about 10 minutes for your journey. The
atmosphere may seem outdated to some, but the nostalgia was a worthwhile
trip for the GenX parents of the 4 children who marveled at It's a Small
World without asking for some spectacular special effects! Perhaps it was
the awe in my toddler's eyes that inspired me. Disney's special effects on
this attraction center around the simple wonder of beautifully designed
dolls from around the world.
Let's Ride Again!
These were the words we heard from the kids as we ended
our ride. It was an attraction that everyone enjoyed, and the perfect kind
of Disney attraction for families of all ages. Mom didn't have to sit on a
bench waiting for the braver older kids and husband rode Space Mountain or
endured Alien Encounter.
It's a Small World may be opposed by some disinterested
teenagers and adults. I was actually warned that the song can drive some
relatively stable adults a bit "loco" before I went. It's a Small World is
more of an uplifting experience, in my opinion, however.
The best times to visit this attraction are not as
difficult as many other Disney attractions and the lines move along
quicker than most. For those that suspect that their younger ones will
demand repeat rides, I highly suggest trying this around dusk. We enjoyed
an entire boat to ourselves and literally walked on. Enjoy your journey
around the world!
Note: Spelling ñitÍs a small worldî with all lowercase letters was a
gimmick thought up by Disney. Just to clarify that IÍm not making the same
glaring typo over and over again. Nevertheless, IÍm going to be
italicizing the attractionÍs title just so that it doesnÍt get lost
itÍs a small world is an attraction whose
reputation as a facet of pop culture interminably precedes it. People who
have never so much as set foot within a Disney theme park will attest with
equal enthusiasm as to the drudgery of riding it and hearing its infamous
theme song. The current management of the Disney Company itself is quite
aware and possibly agrees with the general publicÍs perception, and even
goes to so far as to self-mockingly mention it in their films. To quote an
exchange between two characters in the 1994 animated Disney feature,
The Lion King:
Scar: Oh, Zazu, do lighten up. Sing something with a
little bounce in it!
Zazu: (Halfheartedly) ItÍs a small world after all
Scar: No, no! Anything but that!
The question is: If everyone knows how allegedly
terrible and monotonous of an attraction itÍs a small world is, is
it really worth keeping around?
For those of you who honestly havenÍt the slightest
idea what IÍm talking about, itÍs a small world is an attraction at Disneyland
and Disney World, a boat ride through dioramas of animatronic children
representing different countries of the world. The children, in their
respective languages, are singing two verses of a song and repeating ad
nauseam. Common jokes entail forcing people to ride over and over as a
method of torture. ItÍs not really that bad.
it's a small world was one of four attractions
presented by Walt Disney at the 1964 New York WorldÍs Fair, along with the
Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and the Primeval
World Diorama (then a part of the Ford Wonder Rotunda). Each attraction
was sponsored and built under the conditions that theyÍd all be moved to California
as part of Disneyland once the event had concluded. In Disneyland itÍs
a small world became a considerably popular attraction, and
consequently Disney World got its own, more-compact version upon opening
Who have we got to blame for the song? Credit goes to
the Sherman Brothers, the highly-regarded composers behind the soundtracks
to countless Disney films and theme park attractions (among well-noted
work for other parties). These are the same guys who gave us the songs in
Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book, the Carousel of Progress, and Journey Into
Imagination. I personally donÍt feel that itÍs a small worldÍs
theme song is really so horrendous; the problem is hearing those few
verses repeated over and over and over, something pretty much necessary in
preserving the continuity of the attraction. A few more verses would be
ideal, but would probably become difficult to keep the song in sync
throughout the entire course of the ride.
The idea behind itÍs a small world was to
promote equality and togetherness amongst the separate nations, a foray
into social and political commentary somewhat unusual for Disney. It
wasnÍt quite as bold a venture as would be EpcotÍs World Showcase some
years later, but international tensions were still present, as was
apparent in DisneyÍs reluctance to initially include Communist Mainland China.
Nonetheless, the attractionÍs message was a positive one, and itÍs a
small world has managed to otherwise remain fairly unchanged until
Needless to say, however, no attractionÍs popularity
can hold out forever. There isnÍt much of a crowd outside of itÍs a
small world anymore; waits range from 5-15 minutes at most, even
during the peak seasons. ItÍs primarily ridden by younger children and
senior citizens, heavily as the result of its calm and uneventful ride.
Nothing scary or over-stimulating here; just a slow-moving, 5-minute long
boat trip, making it more or less the longest ride that Fantasyland has
left to offer. ItÍs colorful and friendly, despite moderately
stereotypical representation of some countries. As for other age groups,
itÍs pretty much a case of who adheres to the idea of itÍs a small
world potentially making your ears bleed. Some people like it, and
Part of the problem that I have with itÍs a
small world is the general state of disrepair into which itÍs fallen
in the absence of a sponsor. It looks dirty and dingy inside, and many of
the animatronics have been sitting out of order for some time. ThereÍs a
lot going on to divert your attention, but nitpickers such as myself often
have no better purpose than to spot things that arenÍt working. I think
the general argument among detractors of itÍs a small world really
is that the whole thing has become a bit tacky and outdated-looking after
all this time, especially if they canÍt keep it clean and functioning
properly. IÍm all for preserving the attraction and can easily find appeal
in its simplicity, but I believe it very un-Disneylike to let the place
Then again, IÍm not sure that itÍs a small world
could ever really gain the appreciation of its critics, even in perfect
So, what could possibly be done if so few people take
this attraction seriously? Turn it into a lackluster parody of itself as
was done with the Enchanted Tiki Room as punishment for its
monotony? No, I was never a big fan of that decision. Could they update
itÍs a small world with a fancy new presentation maintaining a similar
theme? As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I think that the overall
appearance may be beside the point. This may simply be a case where there
is no right answer.
My outlook? Just fix whatÍs broken and clean the place
up. Regardless of everything said about it, itÍs a small world is a
classic ride, a notable remnant of Walt DisneyÍs vision and spirit with an
excellent message to boot. And itÍs worth preserving. Not every attraction
is going to appeal to every person, and thinking otherwise is one of the
biggest flaws in Disney management today. TheyÍre just too sure thereÍs a
right answer to everything.
When I first took my children to Walt Disney World in 1985, my
four-year-old daughter already had her list of rides in order. We had been
singing "It's a Small World" for years, so naturally, this was the ride
she most wanted to experience. Her one-year-old brother seemed to be in
We visited Walt Disney World in October, since we'd
heard the crowds were smaller and the weather better than in the hot
summer months. All I can say is, if those were the "small" crowds, I would
have hated to be there for the large group. But, the weather was perfect,
mid-seventies, clear and sunny.
After parking our car, we walked straight to the
entrance of The Magic Kingdom, where I rented a stroller for my infant
son. The strollers cost $5.00 a day to rent (they are $7 a day now) and
have a place for a diaper bag in the back. One caveat: do not load
yourself down too heavily because you must leave the strollers in a queue
when you go on rides and there is no guarantee that whatever you leave in
the stroller will still be there when you return from the ride. I just
brought a diaper bag with my wallet tucked inside and left my purse in the
car. That way, I was able to easily throw the bag over one shoulder, hold
my son in one arm and hold my daughter's hand with the other when we
boarded a ride. With the size of the crowds, it is very important for
parents to keep in actual physical contact with their little ones. It is
too easy to get separated otherwise.
The line for "It's a Small World" seemed to move
somewhat faster than lines for other rides, probably because each boat
holds quite a few people. We were fortunate enough to get into the front
seat on the boat, which gave us a marvelous panoramic view. The second
time we rode, (oh, yes...there was a second and a third time) we
were in the middle of the boat. Even though we could still see the
displays which are raised above the level of the water, the view was not
as good as we'd had up in front.
Basically, "It's a Small World" is a gentle boat ride.
You float into a dark, cool cavern while the delightful song, "It's a
Small World After All" plays over a sound system. The theme of the song is
unity among humanity. The ride echoes this theme to show how people from
every culture of the world, despite their differences, have underlying
Each part of the world is represented by a series of
large animated dolls dressed in the typical costume of their country. For
example, the dolls representing Germany are in lederhosen; the Spanish
dolls have lace mantillas and gilded braid; the dolls from India wear
saris and turbans, and so on. In addition to presenting a colorful and
enchanting display which absolutely held my children's attention, even my
baby's, this ride was also an educational experience. Even mama loved it!
And yes, as soon as we got back out into the bright
sunlight, we had to immediately stop and buy the Walt Disney World record
for my daughter's own little Fisher-Price record player. (Remember, this
was in 1985) Today you would probably buy an interactive CD-ROM for your
child's own little computer!
My teenagers and I are planning a return trip this
summer and we intend to make "It's a Small World" our second stop. Even my
macho son has agreed, although the price of his acquiescence in this plan
is that this time, we have to visit "Pirates of the Caribbean" first!
Every time I am in the Magic Kingdom, I make sure I have the time to ride
"It's a Small World" which is among my favorite rides at Walt Disney
World. This particular ride not only is fun, it has a great meaning behind
it. As a world traveler, I can identify well with the message.
Ever since I first went to Walt Disney World almost 25
years ago, I remembered how fun this ride can be. It is a nice reasonably
long "boat ride" through a large complex winding maze of scenes from
around the world. Each scene showcases different cultures in different
regions around the world. With the advent of Epcot's World Showcase, it
could be said that this ride is a preview of what you could spend hours
seeing in Epcot. Of course this ride is air conditioned and you get to sit
in a boat for a ride around the complex which makes it a bit nicer.
The ride is filled with singing. Of course it is the
same song, sometimes I believe I have heard it sung in foreign languages
also. As you progress from one region to another, you definitely do hear a
difference in the voice inflection based on the region your boat is
traveling at the time. They did forget to put a Texas region, where it
would be "Y'all come back, ya' hear" but we forgive that oversight.
The ride is great for kids since it is slow, has
singing, the line seems to be short every time I go, and there is plenty
of non-scary action. The scenes are well designed with lots of color. Of
course most of the world seems to use a lot of vibrant colors in their
"native costumes." Another reason this ride is good for the kids is the
very positive message it sends. I always get the feeling after the ride
that despite it taking a good day to get 1/2 way around the world by
plane, it is truly a small world where all of the people have a single
common goal, survival and enjoyment of life.
On the downside, the ride takes you through a dark
building which can be hard on the eyes if you come on a bright sunny day.
Also, if the kids do not like the dark, they may not enjoy the ride as
much. I saw this happen where one child broke out in tears once the boat
slid into the darkness. Other than that, I see no other downsides to this
I recommend this ride for anyone going to the Magic Kingdom,
for a first or a return visit. Enjoy it!