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Tokyo Disneyland Renovation may Freeze out It’s A Small World


A story in the Nikkei Asian Review reports that Tokyo Disneyland is about to undergo a partial renovation that will introduce a large attraction based on Disney’s mega-hit Frozen. As part of the construction, that park’s version of “It’s A Small World” may get moved to make way for the Frozen attraction. There’s also a possibility that Arendelle will appear in Tokyo DisneySea instead.

I read the article with great interest because I had the exact same idea for Walt Disney World. Get ready for what some may consider the ultimate heresy from a Disney Fan. I think the rumor is a great idea. Not just for Tokyo Disneyland, but for the Magic Kingdom as well. Moving “It’s A Small World” from its place along a congested walk-way inside the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, to some place where it can have a more pastoral opening and get the great facade like at the original or in Tokyo Disneyland, would be fantastic.

Ever since Disneyland neutered the pure commercial free message of original version of the attraction with a Disney character overlay, all the other versions of “it’s a small world” are candidates for refreshers.

Heck, why not give passengers laser guns and put target on each of the doll. Guest interaction. It’s the latest thing in immersive entertainment. Movie trailer voice: “In a battle for WORLD PEACE, only Walt Disney’s Frozen Head can guide the way. It’s A Small World, Revenge of the Guest, Part 2

Obviously, I’m not serious about the guns.

Frozen, which I believe will fit in fine in Norway in EPCOT, is still more naturally suited to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Moving “it’s a small world” would give Imagineers a huge footprint to work with for an amazing original Frozen themed attraction. The Norway version will always be little more than an overlay as long as they’re forced to work with the footprint and ride mechanism of the Norway boat ride.

My nomination for it’s a small world’s new home? EPCOT World Showcase. Use it as a portal to the World Show Place pavilion and invite dozens of smaller countries to show off their culture at EPCOT even if they can’t afford a full-sized pavilion. Or place it between Germany and America. That side of the park needs some more child friendly options anyway. Another strong argument for EPCOT is that moving it to the World Showcase would honor IASW’s original debut at the World’s Fair.

The original flavor and appeal of “it’s a small world” should be maintained in any move. The world is both a lot bigger since the original version opened (with a deeper appreciation of cultural diversity) and smaller (communications and improved standards of living have brought everyone closer). Those changes should be gently worked in to the story of global peace being a real possibility today if we work hard and place the children of the world’s future first.

And that’s a message we could hear a lot more often these days.

Hat tip to Jim at Westcoaster for finding the news article.
(photo credit Stevec240 at the English language Wikipedia, via cc-attribution-share alike 3.0 license)

6 thoughts on “Tokyo Disneyland Renovation may Freeze out It’s A Small World”

  1. Very interesting insights. I myself am not a old-school disney snob, but boy, moving Small World, even just a few feet within the same park, would get lot of feathers ruffled. I’d never even heard anyone talk about the Maelstrom ride very much till it was scheduled for removal. Small world removal would likely create a 3rd world war(pun intended). That said, I can’t argue with any of your ideas. You’re pretty much spot on about location. And new heightened senses of cultural diversity and communications in the ride could keep it fresh for decades to come. Well said all around.

  2. For WDW’s Magic Kingdom, I think this makes a lot of sense. The whole current setup for IASM feels cramped and stuffy (having grown up with Anaheim’s much more regal version), and it’s a great candidate for the World Showcase.

    As to where they put a Frozen feature … meh.

  3. I’m with Tom, moving IASW would definitely rile people up, but conceptually I could definitely see it fitting in well at EPCOT. Other than the monatary issues, the big question would be where? Its a fairly big show building and I don’t know that I’d put it mixed in with the rest of the World Showcase. To me it would want to live in the Gateway area between World Showcase and Future World. I doubt they’d want to block the view of the American Adventure Pavilion, so maybe where Odyssey is. I’ve always liked the Odyssey building’s architecture, but I’d think they’d have to tear it down and take over some of the lagoon area in front of it.
    Honestly I think it would take too much money in this day and age to move an already existing attraction to ever be feasible. Times are much different than the days of CoP moving cross country and EPCOT’s already built and open. Plus I can’t really see the payout of swapping them out. Still good points and fun to discuss if we were master planning a brand new gate…

  4. I was all ready to unleash an adrenaline filled Donald Duck on you. Then I read the article. I had never thought of it moving at all, much less to EPCOT. Interesting ideas though, but I kind of have to agree that the costs would probably be prohibitive. I also admit to some jealousy of the facades of other parks IASWs. And this would take care of that. :) I don’t know if there is a practical spot though. I would think you would want it at the entrance to World Showcase, maybe where Showcase Plaza is, not somewhere among the countries. But then this would affect the visual experience of leaving Future World and entering World Showcase. Although that may be an improvement. Regardless, an interesting thought.

  5. I agree that Frozen is better suited to the Magic Kingdom. Personally I would shutter Story Time with Belle and use this real estate as the entrance to a Frozen show building that would be located off stage. Too bad no one thought of relocating IASM before the new Fantasyland construction. It would have been nice to see this expansion populated with rides similar to Disneyland rather than with scenery and facades to gift shops and restaurants.

  6. I’ve only been to the parks in the states so this is more about the MK version. I grew up going to DL and when I was still young ( 11ish ) I went to WDW. I was so unimpressed by their version of Small World. It is absolutely nothing, and I know the one at DL is original and whatever but moving it out of MK wouldn’t be such a bid deal in my opinion. I’m not saying to axe Small World all together in WDW but a Frozen attraction there using the same boat mechanism (or changing it) would be better and Small World can be moved somewhere else either in the MK but I also think it would make a lot of sense in Epcot.

    So basically I can see reasoning in the whole thing going on in WDW but if it happens at DL that’s a really big problem.

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