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Hidden Mary Blair in Walt Disney World’s “it’s a small world”

2 Aug

I’ve always been terrible at spotting hidden Mickeys. I’ve got the guide and all, but even with incredibly explicit directions, I still can’t see half the things I go looking for, unless I’ve got a personal guide.

One of my favorite Easter Eggs at Walt Disney World is the hidden Mary Blair in “it’s a small world.” She’s hidden in plain sight, and large enough that I can find her just fine. But she’s in such an odd spot that I never noticed until my friend Trace showed her to me. So on my trip to Walt Disney World last month, I captured this video.

Trace tells me that there are hidden Mary Blairs in every “it’s a small world,” but the only other one I could find info on is the one at Disneyland, which interestingly enough is also located with the Eiffel Tower. Anybody out there got the scoop on Paris, Tokyo, or Hong Kong?

Reported Battery on “it’s a small world”?

2 Feb

From the Orlando Sentinel:

A person at Magic Kingdom called deputies Sunday to report a battery, but later declined to prosecute, reports show.

Jim Solomons at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said the person called 911 dispatch operators at 3 p.m. alleging a battery at the It’s a Small World ride at Walt Disney World‘s Magic Kingdom theme park.

Reports show one guest elbowed another because he thought the man was trying to cut in line.

The real story here is that someone was allegedly cutting in line at “it’s a small world,” which implies that there was enough of a line for one to cut in.

People, people, people.

An American’s View of Istanbul

23 Apr

My dear friend Steve is spending a month in Istanbul, and I was amused to read this Disneyland reference in his blog, wherein he is chronicling his adventures:

I want to go on record as saying I will never do another group tour like this again. If one more person asks me why I haven’t met the right girl I really may lose my mind. It’s not like home where I can just tell someone I’m a fag and be done with it. These people exist on a very delicate surface called “travel,” so nothing real is discussed. The other day everyone was talking about the wonder of grandparents and the love of children. I wanted to set myself on fire. I kept praying that no one would ask me about my family. I didn’t think I wanted to be that guy who tells the truth at a cocktail party when everyone has agreed to lie to each other. I hate being that guy.

Because children are the most important people in the world, my group has indulged the two children in our group. They were playing a game on the bus (during our 7 hour drive from Ürgüp to Pamukkale) that spewed the song “It’s a Small World” all over the bus. There was no escaping it, so I put on my noise canceling Skullcandy headphones and listened to Branca Parlic and the Cowboy Junkies first album. It matched the Turkish landscape perfectly and gave me a reprieve from the family hour on the bus.

Oh good lord, I even like that attraction and still cannot fathom 7 hours worth!

No Plans for “Up With America,” Sez Sklar

5 Apr

Laughing Place has a statement from Marty Sklar, in response to the vocal fan-community criticism of rumored changes to Disneyland’s “it’s a small world.” It reads, in part:

Now the rumors are swirling that we are “ruining Walt’s creation.”  I’ve heard that we are planning to remove the rainforest, add Mickey and Minnie Mouse, create an “Up with America” tribute, to effectively “marginalize” the Mary Blair style and Walt’s classic (all not true).

Much of his post does effectively pull at the heartstrings, and makes a good argument for continued change in the parks (“the greatest “change agent” who ever walked down Main Street at Disneyland was Walt himself”). I’m still a bit skeptical, though . . . and not crazy about the branded Disney characters being introduced to the attraction in any context.

Interweb Abuzz Over “it’s a small world” Revisions

31 Mar

Interested in finding out what you can do to let Disney know you oppose (or support) the rumored revisions to Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” attraction? Or, want to know what the heck I’m talking about? An online campaign site has been set up at (Hat tip: The Disney Blog.)

Over the weekend, the LA Times ran a short piece about the controversy. The part that amused me most? This set of parody lyrics:

It’s a world of franchise,
it’s a world of fun
Piles of plush mean profit
for everyone
Wonder, Magic of Dream,
in our marketing scheme,
it’s a mall world after all.

It’s almost as if the author of those lyrics was surprised to discover that Disney is in fact a corporation, operating in a capitalist economy. Who knew? (That being said . . . I’m not crazy about being dumped into gift shops after riding so many Walt Disney World attractions, and much prefer Disneyland’s smaller number of grabs at my wallet.)

I think I’m more of a spiritual kin with a certain wonderfully cranky blogger, Your Souvenir Guide. I disagree with some of his opinions (I don’t like the addition of the branded characters), but there’s plenty of clear, critical thought in his post, “It’s a sacrosanct world after all.”

Blair Family Speaks on Changes to “it’s a small world”

18 Mar

Re-Imagineering has a letter today to the Disney Company, apparently from the family of late Imagineer Mary Blair, commenting on the rumored upcoming changes to the Disneyland attraction, “it’s a small world.” The letter reads in part:

The Disney characters of themselves are positive company icons, but they do NOT fit in with the original theme of the ride. They will do nothing except to marginalize the rightful stars of the ride “The Children of the World”. This marginalization will do nothing but infuriate the ride’s international guests and devoted Disney fans.

My Mother and I have always had a strong sense of patriotism for America and I DO support a tribute to America. Disneyland has several venues, which are perfect places for this tribute including “Main Street USA” or “New Orleans Square”; unfortunately the “It’s a Small World” ride is NOT one of them. Once again this will marginalize the children of the world theme and bastardize my Mother’s original art. Furthermore ripping out a rainforest (Imaginary or otherwise) and replacing it with misplaced patriotism is a public relations blunder so big you could run a Monorail through it.

“Bastardize” . . . they’re not mincing words here, now are they?

Re-Imagineering has also recently run a piece discussing its objections to the changes, in some detail.

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.

“it’s a small world” Retrofitted for Larger Riders?

2 Nov

Al Lutz reported this on MiceAge October 9, but I’ll confess it didn’t catch my attention until Mr Broke Hoedown sent me email today linking to BoingBoing’s coverage. Rumor has it that Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” is being refurbished to accommodate more large guests, because of traffic problems caused by overweight boats bottoming out.

Quite simply, the boats weren’t designed to handle multiple adults weighing more than 200 pounds, and they now routinely bottom out in the shallow flume and get stuck. The Imagineers who designed the unique flume ride system for the World’s Fair assumed that adult men would average 175 pounds, and adult women would average 135 pounds. Needless to say, those 1960’s statistics are hopelessly out of date in today’s world. This same issue creates similar problems on the drops at Pirates of the Caribbean, or even on the older dark rides like Pinocchio or Alice In Wonderland as the more heavily loaded cars try to keep up their pace throughout the ride. But at it’s a small world, the weight related problems happen more frequently.

BoingBoing linked to CalorieLab for this story . . . and I was amused to see that a good chunk of the discussion there was about whether Al Lutz had been appropriately credited. BoingBoing had the more interesting comments on the story, particularly this one from Richard Giles:

The thing that I find the most amusing about this story, is this seems to be the opposite approach that other corporations would take.

Airlines would just downsize the boats, and charge more. The RIAA would sue the overweight customers for sinking the boats. And the Fast Food Industry would turn the water into slurpee.

The airlines clearly aren’t dealing well with the plus-sizing of Americans. I hate to see large people charged for two seats, and I also hate to share my tiny little seat with whomever’s sitting next to me.  I’m much more comfortable with Disney’s (rumored) approach: Re-design the vehicle to fit the occupants.

New Attractions for Hong Kong Disneyland

14 Dec

The Associated Press, by way of the Houston Chronicle, reports that Hong Kong Disneyland will be adding new rides.

Stepping up its expansion program, Hong Kong Disneyland said Thursday it plans to add three new attractions by the first half of 2008, including the classic Disney ride “It’s a Small World.”

Hong Kong Disneyland said in a statement it will also add Animation Academy, where Disney artists will teach cartoon drawing, and “Mickey’s WaterWorks” water-based parade.

The article later notes that the new attractions will open in summer of 2007 and the first half of 2008.

I must admit, I can only cringe as I think of It’s a Small World being exported yet again. Yes, it’s a classic, and yes, I’ve ridden it in every Disneyland there is, so perhaps I’m just bitter because I don’t know when I’ll get out to this new park. Harumph. I gotta book me some goddamn flights to Hong Kong.

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