Fans, cast members, celebrities and more will unite in song around the globe to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world,” one of the most iconic Disney attractions ever built. The first version of “it’s a small world,” opened as a tribute to peace and hope at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
On Thursday, April 10, 2014, hundreds of voices from Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris in France, and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort will sing the unforgettable theme song of the “happiest cruise that ever sailed the seven seas.” Fans from around the world can join the festivities in a first-of-its-kind, online global sing-along at SmallWorld50.com.
While on the website, fans may record videos of themselves singing the classic song and create virtual “it’s a small world” dolls to benefit UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). UNICEF provides health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more to children around the world.
“‘it’s a small world’ has inspired hundreds of millions of people through its timeless theme,” said Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Every moment of every day there are Disney guests enjoying ‘it’s a small world’ somewhere around the globe. The 50th anniversary of this attraction represents a celebration of the shared optimism, hope, and humanity of people throughout the world.”
Disney has also released this short video highlighting some of the history of the attraction:
New Video Features People Around the World Singing “It’s a Small World”
To help announce the celebration, Disney released a video featuring people around the world singing, dancing to and playing “It’s a Small World.” Filmed across six continents in more than 25 countries, the video features international “performers” – including bagpipers in Scotland, Bollywood movie actors in India, a firefighter in New York City, and members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – to create one worldwide video.
That video and others will be part of the launch of SmallWorld50.com, the global website for the attraction’s anniversary. Fans around the world are encouraged to participate online by recording on the Small World 50 website videos of themselves singing “It’s a Small World” and by creating virtual “it’s a small world” dolls to share with their friends through social media.
The Walt Disney Company will donate $150,000 to benefit UNICEF in honor of the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world,” plus $1 for every sing-along video recorded on SmallWorld50.com and another $1 for every virtual doll created on the website, up to $100,000. Disney began its relationship with UNICEF in 1964 with the debut of “it’s a small world” at the New York World’s Fair. More recently, Disney and UNICEF have worked together to create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of children through programming that helps foster imagination and creativity.
Throughout the day, Disney Parks also will sponsor Google Hangouts that invite people from around the world to participate in the anniversary events. Fans are encouraged to visit SmallWorld50.com for details.
Disney Store adds to the Golden Anniversary celebration with the “it’s a small world” doll collection, inspired by the original Fantasyland attraction, and stores nationwide will offer fans a chance to celebrate at “it’s a small world” events. From Thursday, April 10, to Sunday, April 13, children are invited to visit a participating Disney Store to take a journey on an imaginary boat ride around the globe, learning how to say “hello” in various languages and singing “It’s a Small World” along the way. Guests are encouraged to call their local Disney Store or visit DisneyStore.com to confirm participation and details.
The Creation of a Classic
One of the most beloved attractions in the history of Disney Parks, “it’s a small world” is featured at all five Disney Resorts around the world. The original attraction premiered at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, created by Walt Disney himself and WED Enterprises, which eventually became Walt Disney Imagineering (the creative masters behind Disney theme parks and attractions).
The attraction features a gentle boat ride through a Lilliputian land populated by colorfully dressed Audio-Animatronics dolls representing children from many regions of the world singing a simple song about universal harmony. A team of WED artistic geniuses, including Disney Legends designer Mary Blair and costumer Alice Davis, created its now iconic style.
In 1963, Walt Disney was asked to create an exhibit for the 1964 World’s Fair to salute UNICEF and children around the world. With Walt’s blessing, Marc Davis, one of the original Disney animators, designed the boat ride attraction through the regions and countries of the world. The first version of “it’s a small world” entertained and thrilled more than 10 million visitors in New York from 1964-65. In 1966, after some major enhancements, including an enlargement of approximately 33 percent, the attraction found a permanent home at Disneyland in California.
In the attraction, hundreds of dolls “sing” the familiar song, “It’s a Small World,” in five languages (English, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish). Academy Award winning composers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who won two Oscars for their work on Disney’s feature film “Mary Poppins,” were asked by Walt Disney to create a simple, yet catchy piece that could be sung in many different languages while guests traveled by boat through the attraction. The resulting song, “It’s a Small World (After All),” became one of the most well known and happiest of all Disney tunes.