it’s a small world: “Hooray for USA”??????

5 Mar

I was stunned to read this today in Re-Imagineering, regarding updates to Disneyland’s “it’s a small world:”

Unfortunately W.D.I. has taken ill advantage of the downtime by staking out areas throughout the attraction to place a selection of smiling Disney characters to spice up the proceedings. Imagine a grinning Stitch in Hawaii, a demure Belle in Paris, a Peter Pan in London.

And in one of the most egregious and downright disgusting decisions in Disney theme park history, the gorgeous New Guinea rainforest scene, replete with some of Mary Blair’s most whimsical character creations (a crocodile with an umbrella, colorful birds hatching from eggs) and her drummer children with Tiki Masks on the opposite shore will be replaced with a Hooray for U.S.A sequence.

Um, excuse me? I thought for sure this was an April Fools’ post . . . then I remembered today is March 5.

Now, I’ll confess to having mixed feelings about some of the rainforest section. There are some racial undertones that are disquieting to me, but what the heck, the whole ride’s full of stereotypes (good and bad). But replacing it with “Hooray for USA?”

And as much as I love Stitch, I don’t wanna see him in the Hawaii section of that attraction, thank you very much.

Mr Banks closes the Re-Imagineering post with a call to action:

This is not a change at Disneyland to take lightly. Letters should go out to all corners of the company pleading for a halt to the desecration of Small World once and for all. A campaign to “Save Our Rainforest” is appropriate, one with tee-shirts, wristbands and a countdown clock. It’s safe to say that with enough of a hue and cry from those of us who actually pay the bills at W.D.I the company might do an about face. Fortunately this was a concept that was pitched to executives before Bruce Vaughn and Craig Russell took the reigns at Imagineering so there’s still room for hope.

6 Responses to “it’s a small world: “Hooray for USA”??????”

  1. Jon March 6, 2008 at 12:54 am #

    Jen, all I can say is wait until you get into this fight. I hate it when one source tells us one version of the story. Re-imagineering is very biased towards older attractions and has basically belittled any changes to the parks. While this case might seem extreme, we still don’t have enough hard facts from other sources to know how much of this is true. When I think of changes done to the Haunted Mansion, I don’t really see anything too terrible. I do think that we need to keep a level head.

    Let’s face it, any ride ages with time. Its a Small World not only pushes the fine line of political correctness, it also suggests that our global neighbors all live in a time when all they all wore tribal clothing. Compare it to how Epcot displays different cultures. Yes, its time for change…but to what degree?

  2. Eric March 6, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    Here we go again, with the Disney traditionalists/purists (aka the Distapo) up in arms over an attraction change, or as it should be called, plussing an attraction.

    These are the same people that quote Walt like the gospel, but so conveniently forget that Walt wanted his parks & attractions to change. Granted, not all of these changes have been for the better (TIki Room Under New Management, anyone?) but I would submit that most have been improvements (Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain at DL, etc.).

    I wouldn’t exactly say I was FOR the addition of Disney characters in Its a Small World, but I’m willing to give it a try. Personally, I’d like to see the characters added in the style of the children of the ride, to make the effect less jarring.

    As for the rainforest scene, that one I’m not so sure of. First, I love the look of that scene and second, do we really need another “USA!USA!” scene in an attraction? Most of the riders are familiar with America already, so what would be the point? But whatever the Imagineers come up with, I’ll give a chance.

    To the Distapo: breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Good. Things change, especially at the Disney parks. Get used to it. If not, then eventually there will no longer be any enjoyment for you there.

    Oh yeah…..and Horizons isn’t coming back. 😉

  3. Biblioadonis aka George March 6, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    Eric…great point about the characters being added “Mary Blair” style.

    That was my first thought when I heard about the rumor. I imagined that the characters would be a wonderful addition if they were sprinkled throughout the ride and had that Small World appeal.

  4. Jennifer March 6, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    I’m not sure you have to be a “purist” or “traditionalist” to not like this change . .. see above for Mr. Broke Hoedown’s post on the topic, and that man loathes iasw, and in general can’t really stand theme parks.

    When I rode iasw in Paris, it felt very strange to see the whole USA section. What I recall most clearly are the smiling cowboys and “Indians,” and the representations of New York. But I have to say that while I felt odd to me as an American, it also fit in well with the rest of the attraction. I’d have a certain respect for putting this same USA section into the Anaheim attraction . . . but if it’s really the Hooray for USA that’s being described elsewhere, I just can’t buy it.

    Predictably, there’s an interesting discussion on this topic taking place at boingboing.

  5. Amy March 9, 2008 at 1:24 pm #

    Ugh. I don’t see how this could remotely be called plussing an attraction. Adding characters and a rah rah USA section? How is this going to make the ride better?

    I hope the information on re-imagineering is wrong.


  1. Disney changing It’s A Small World to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America” « Collateral Damage - March 6, 2008

    […] Mrs. Collateral Damage — aka The Queen of All Disney Media — quotes the following: And in one of the most egregious and downright disgusting decisions in Disney theme park history, th… […]

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