The Disney Diaries

it’s a small world

I’m back! Sorry for the long (but necessary) break. Over the course of two weeks, my entire family and I got sick and it was terrible. Worst of all, my grandmother got extremely sick and is still recovering. In honor of her, my next blog post will be about her favorite Disney attraction.

The Disney tradition you’ll either love or hate: it’s a small world. If you’re not a fan of the attraction because of the hundreds of animatronics dolls and the song that’s on loop and sung in like 50 languages, then I understand. It could be a lot at once; especially if you’re a first time rider. But if you’re a fan of the attraction, art and Disney history in general, then I suggest you keep reading.

The idea: of it’s a small world all started with the brilliant minds of Disney’s Imagineers at the 1964 New York World Fair. According to disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “it’s a small world was created for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Personally overseen by Walt Disney in support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the attraction was a huge hit for 2 seasons at the fair and was eventually shipped back to Disneyland park, where it reopened on May 28, 1966. In 1971, it’s a small world was recreated to become one of the Opening Day attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. Due to its immense popularity, the attraction has been replicated in every Disney Resort around the world and is considered a Walt Disney classic…”

The song: Famous composer and songwriter Richard and Robert Sherman (brothers) were approached by Walt Disney himself to create a song that all children could sing and remember. Although they were working hard on the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, the brothers created it’s a small world, which has become a classic that we all know and most of us love. The coolest part of the process would probably be having children all over the world record the song in their native language and incorporating that within the attraction. Not only does it create harmony, but symbolizes what we all hope for: togetherness and world peace (definitely a Miss Congeniality moment).

The art: Mary Blair and Alice Davis. If you don’t know who both of them are, I suggest you do some research on them. Those ladies were absolutely brilliant and talented and I want to be like them when I grow up.

Also on disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “With her distinctive use of color, geometric shapes and a simple, child-like art style, Mary Blair was known for her visual aesthetic—felt in every aspect, in every nation, of “it’s a small world.” As you glide through the many scenes, colored paper in bold hues vividly create collages of some of the world’s most beloved countries, giving you the impression of sailing through a classic children’s book…Under the direction of designer Alice Davis (and her husband Marc Davis), Disney seamstresses gathered and sewed every inch of clothing to create a faithful portrayal of each nation’s traditional attire. That’s over 300 outfits in all! Authentic materials were used for each region, from silks for the saris of India and fine wool for the Scottish bagpiper.”

So many elements and hard work went into the attraction and it continually shows. Regardless of how you might personally feel about it’s a small world, it’s a ride that shows culture and different perspectives. The first time I rode the ride, I was three years old. As a three-year old, I don’t remember much about my first Disney trip, but I do remember when I rode it the second time (when I was ten). Wall to wall colors and sparkle, props and scenery that represented various countries, and a boat ride that emerged me into a world of many different worlds. Looking back, it was my first experience with knowing about what made us culturally different and what made us the same. At the time, I’ve only known my own, which is Mexican-American.

I’m thankful it’s a small world continues to celebrate culture and differences. I truly believe it creates conversations and curiosity between children and for those who want to know/learn more about what’s out there in our world; like it did for me. The more we tell people and children about the joys and fascinations about other parts of the world, the more they will become accepting and understanding of traditions and rituals. It could definitely do us some good.

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