I know, it’s been a while since I have done another ride comparison between Disneyland and Disneyworld and hopefully it will not take as long for the next installment (famous last words). So today I going to focus on it’s a small world.
The origins of it’s a small world are very fascinating. Fabricated at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank as Children of the World, it was created by WED Enterprises, then shipped to the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s UNICEF pavilion, sponsored by Pepsi, where it featured at its entrance a kinetic sculpture, The Tower of the Four Winds, a 120-foot perpetually spinning mobile created by WED designer Rolly Crump. If you have seen the film Tomorrowland then you can see the recreation of the area that the ride was in.
Mary Blair was responsible for the attraction’s whimsical design and color styling. Blair had been an art director on several Disney animated features, including Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Like many Disneyland attractions, scenes and characters were designed by Marc Davis, while his wife, Alice Davis, designed the costumes for the dolls. Rolly Crump designed the toys and other supplemental figures on display. The animated dolls were designed and sculpted by Blaine Gibson. Walt was personally involved with Gibson’s development of the dolls’ facial design; each animated doll face is completely identical in shape, hence the name “it’s a small world”.
The original attraction at the New York’s Worlds Fair was taken apart and then shipped back to Disneyland and open in the park on May 28th 1966. The attraction had to have a new exterior build because the facade from the New York World’s Fair was not used at the park. The ride over the years had not change with only maintenance done over the years. In 2008 the ride had major upgrades to the flume and new boats were added. The original interiors were repainted to match the original designs and the only major change was the addition of Disney characters like Alice in Wonderland, Lilo & Stitch, and The Three Caballeros. The only other change was starting in 1997 for the Christmas Holiday period the Disneyland ride converts to it’s a small world holiday from early November to early January.
The it’s a small world in Disneyworld that opened October 1st 1971 is nearly identical to the one in Disneyland. The biggest difference is the boat system is not on a flume but similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in that you are in water on a track instead of the flume. The other thing that I noticed is that most of the scenes are more at eye level unlike the one at Disneyland where you are lower and have to look up a lot of the time. Because of the weather in Florida the “exterior” is actually inside the building in the queue area. While the rides are nearly the same they each have a very different feel.
I was not initially planning to go on it’s a small world in Disneyworld because it seemed that it was just the same ride that I have ridden a million times at Disneyland. I am very glad that I did ride it. Disneyworld has not added the Disney animated characters and so it has a feel that is much more like the original ride was. The other thing that I did like about the Disneyworld version was that the scenes were more at eye level and this allowed to see some of the detail of the attraction better. While a majority of the scenes are the same they do have some layout differences to them.
The one thing that Disneyland has over Disneyworld is the facade of the building. The one in Florida is very tiny and cramped compared to the one in Disneyland. The one at Disneyland exterior to the building is a real sight to behold and when light up at night it is simply breathtaking. There is also a bonus during the fireworks show that they project images to match the music during the show. A lot of guest have never seen the show and if you have not then make sure that you see it at least once, it’s very trippy to say the least.
So before I choose a winner there is a wild card that enters this race. It’s the Grand Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. That is pretty much the Mexico version of it’s a small world. As one of the few people who has ever seemed to have seen the Three Caballeros that was produced in 1944 and was the follow-up to the 1942 feature Saludos Amigos. Walt had visited Latin America in 1941 before the United States had entered the war and he was sent to improve relations with countries that had ties with Nazi Germany.
There is no doubt that the ride is modeled after it’s a small world in layout but it does something that it’s a small world does not have. There are projection screens within the scenes and have new animated footage of the Three Caballeros who are Donald Duck, Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles. They interact with live action footage shot in Mexico that shows the sights and culture from Mexico. The animation add a great new spin to the attraction but I was very curious if the others thought of the ride considering they didn’t know who the Three Caballeros were having not seen the feature. They did enjoy the ride but maybe not as much as I did. The thought of an attraction based on an obscure Disney animated feature was very surprising to say the least. Sadly they had ZERO Three Caballeros merchandise in the shopping area that would have desperately would have loved to buy some.
So what is the winner of this round? This is a really tough call but I have to give a slight edge to the Grand Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros at Epcot in the Mexico pavilion.
The idea of an attraction based on a mostly unseen 1944 animate feature is pretty mind-blowing and considering that the animated film is based in the culture of Mexico and Latin America it does actually fit into the theme of the Mexico Pavilion unlike the Frozen attraction that has no business in the Norway Pavilion considering that the films location is made up.
Of the two it’s a small world Disneyland get the edge for a few reasons. First the Christmas re-themeing is a real treat and there is something about the attraction that is from 1966 that does have a very nice nostalgia to it. Add in the vastly superior building exterior and the fireworks projection give it the edge over Disneyworld’s it’s a small world.
There are two great things that Disneyworld’s it’s a small world has over Disneyland. The scenes being at more of an eye level is a bit more immersive experience over Disneyland and that they have not added the Disney animated characters gives it the nostalgia factor that is now missing with the change at Disneyland.
There is no runaway winner in round 2 of the Disney Parks Attractions Smack-Down but the good news is that there are none of the three attractions that should be missed when you visit the part. They all have their own charm and uniqueness to them and are well worth riding.