Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
"it's a small world"
"it's a small world" (lowercase and quoted) is currently an attraction at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland Park, and Disneyland Paris. Like several other Disneyland attractions, "it's a small world" got its start in the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair, and after the fair closed the ride was transferred to Disneyland; when the other parks opened they, too, had versions of the ride.
The outer fašade of the building is a gigantic clock. On the quarter-hour, stick puppets representing different cultures parade out of the clock, then a bell tolls as a pair of giant doors swings open to reveal two large toy blocks — one block with the hour, and one block with the minutes, written in highly stylized numerals.
The exterior has been slightly redesigned and repainted over the years, first as all-white with gold trim, then in myriad pastel colors, in white with pastel accents, and is currently all-white with gold trim as it was in the 1960s.
Inside the building, the ride features stylized animatronic dolls in national costumes singing the title song in numerous languages. At Disneyland, boats carrying the riders visit the regions of the world in separate rooms:
- The Arctic regions with dolls representing Canada and Scandinavia, with the song sung in Swedish.
- Europe, with the song sung in German, English with an English accent, French and Italian.
- Asia, with the song sung in English and Japanese.
- Latin America, with the song sung in Spanish.
- Africa, with the rhythm of the song marked with drums then sung in English.
- Oceania and Australia, with the song sung with an underwater gurgling sound and English with an Australian accent.
- A rain forest with Polynesian drummers.
- A grand finale with representatives from all the cultures of the world dressed in white versions of their native costumes and singing in English in chorus. A cowboy and American Indian standing together are the only dolls during the ride that represent the United States.
At the other Disney parks, the path of the flume winds around one large room, emphasizing its theme that the world is small and interconnected.
The ride and its song are intended to be sweet, though many find them quite annoying; still, "it's a small world" remains one of the most popular attractions in the parks.
The song and the animatronic characters have been lampooned several times, the most famous and recent one being in Shrek. Disney's own Muppet-Vision 3-D attraction at Disney's California Adventure lampoons the attraction as did a bizarre episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog which took place in "Doc Gerbil's World," an underground river complete with Audio-Animatronics and a repeating, monotonous soundtrack.
The English language lyrics of the song, originally intended as a ballad, were written by the Sherman Brothers. The song started out with a slower tempo and sounded more like a mellow tune. It wasn't until later on that it changed into what it is today.
At the Magic Kingdom (at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, FL), the ride recently reopened with a state-of-the-art sound system, a few new animatronics, and a loading area similar to the ride's facade at Disneyland.
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