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All About “it’s a small world” in Disney World

All About “it’s a small world” in Disney World

There is no attraction more iconic to Disney than “it’s a small world”. Both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida have the iconic attraction. Walt Disney World’s version is an opening day attraction seeing very few changes in the last 50 years, and yet it still brings in thousands of guests each day. What is “it’s a small world”, and why do people love it so much?

What is “it’s a small world”?

“it’s a small world” is a classic Disney boat ride attraction that floats you around the world. Each scene represents a different set of countries on one of the 7 continents around the world. Within each area you will see childlike dolls representing their country in traditional costumes and dresses. The children are all playing together singing the same song, showing us that we are all different and the same simultaneously. It really is a small world after all.

Do you need a Lightning Lane for “it’s a small world”?

Yes! If “it’s a small world” is a must do for you and your party we highly recommend getting a Lightning Lane for this attraction because even 50 years later, the lines can get pretty long.

Lightning Lanes are not difficult to get for “it’s a small world”, so don’t make this your first selection of the day. We recommend avoiding Fantasyland in the afternoon. Instead, opt for the evening hours because it will be significantly less crowded around dinner and after.

Why are wait times so long for “it’s a small world”?

Besides the fact that this ride is pure Disney history, the other reason why the wait times rack up is because of its location. “it’s a small world” is one of the first attractions you come to in the narrow section of Fantasyland. Fantasyland typically has some of the longest wait times in Magic Kingdom because of Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

If you don’t plan on purchasing Genie+ rope drop would be your best option for little to no line.

PRO-TIP: Avoid Fantasyland in the early afternoon around 12:00 – 3:00. It’s like a stroller traffic jam.

Ride vehicles in “it’s a small world”

“it’s a small world” is a water attraction where guests climb aboard small boats. These boats have bench style seating and can fit up to 4 per row with a total of 16 people per boat. There are no seat belts, but don’t worry about that because these boats move at a steady pace of 1 ½ minutes per hour.

This attraction can handle as many as 30 boats at a time.

Handicap Accessibility for “it’s a small world”

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Walt Disney World has done an amazing job over the years making sure that everyone can enjoy the most Magical Place on Earth. “it’s a small world” features a specialty boat that is equipped to handle both wheelchairs and power wheelchairs for those who cannot transfer seating.

For those who can transfer from a wheelchair or electric convenience vehicle (ECV), please note that this is a small step down into the boat. As always, feel free to ask a Cast Member to assist you.

How long is “it’s a small world”?

The duration of “it’s a small world” can vary between 12 and 15 minutes. The time can fluctuate depending on if the Cast Members need to offer aid to people to enter and exit the attraction.

Be sure to look closely at the end of “it’s a small world”! Not only will you see how to say “goodbye” in multiple languages, but if you are wearing a Magic Band or a Magic Band+, you might even see your name on the wall! Love that RFID technology!

History of “it’s a small world”

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If you’re new to Walt Disney World and all things Disney, you may not understand what the hype is about “it’s a small world”. It’s a long boat ride with some moderately creepy dolls singing a song that will be stuck in your head until the end of times, right?

Yes.

But it is so much more! The 1964-1965 World’s Fair was huge for Walt Disney World. With help from sponsors like General Electric, Ford, Pepsi-Cola, and even the State of Illinois.

The original Imagineers working at WED Enterprises were asked to create an attraction for the UNICEF pavilion sponsored by Pepsi-Cola to showcase harmony. The result was an attraction known as “Children of the World”. The attraction was loved so much that it was decided that they were going to create a version for Walt Disney World.

The attraction later became known simply as “it’s a small world” because of the famous song that it plays. Love it or hate it, that song will be in your head forever.

We’re team #LOVEIT! Comment if you’re team #LOVEIT or #HATEIT!

Sherman Brothers and the World’s Most Played Song

Let’s talk more about the song “it’s a small world”. Did you know that it is literally recorded as being the most played song in the world?! It’s true! It is recorded that the song has been played more than 50 million times! No wonder we have it in our heads!

“it’s a small world” was written by the Walt Disney Company’s in-house songwriters, the Sherman Brothers. The Sherman brothers were first noticed by Disney when they wrote a song called simply “Strummin’ Song” for a made for TV movie in 1961. Walt loved their style and admired their talent and hired them to work full time for the Walt Disney Company.

The Sherman brother’s music is known for its upbeat tempos and simple lyrics. They are responsible for the famous music in movies like Mary Poppins, Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, and of course,“it’s a small world”. 

For this new attraction, Walt had asked the brothers to create a song that could be on a loop, sound like something children would sing, and oh yeah, make it sound just as good in other languages. We’re not sure if you know this, but languages can sound very different! And yet, with “it’s a small world”, it just works!

Who is Mary Blair?

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Mary Blair is a legendary Disney artist that is responsible for helping to create mockups of characters and scenery for classic Disney movies like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. She was most known for her bold use of unusual color combinations and her love for geometric lines within her art.

Since the attraction was meant to represent children from around the world, Mary Blair was contracted to create the scenery and design of the overall attraction. Afterall, what is more childlike than bright colors?

As you enter “it’s a small world” you will notice the climax of her design with the gigantic swinging clock surrounded by brightly colored shapes and blocks, which was very nouveau for her time.

Mary Blair loved to put herself into her work. In fact, she literally did. In each of the rooms and scenes within “it’s a small world”, Mary Blair placed a doll that is a replica of herself in that country!

FUN FACT: It is said that Mary Blair was actually hard of seeing. She explained in an interview that this is why she chose such bright and bold colors: so she could see them!

If you are a big fan of Mary Blair, be sure to pop on over to Disney’s Contemporary Resort to check out the massive mural she made in the foyer. And see if you can find the 5 legged goats!

Let’s Talk About Those Dolls…

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There are over 300 different animatronic dolls to represent the various countries in “it’s a small world”! Believe it or not, but the base of each doll is exactly the same to keep continuity. Each doll is customized with skin tone, hair, and costuming.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the dolls actually get … haircuts??? It’s true! The dolls’ hair is made of yarn, and thanks to that Florida humidity, it stretches over time. All of the dolls receive minor trims to clean up the stretched strangely hairs about 3 years.

NEW! At the end of 2022, Disney decided to add more inclusion to the “it’s a small world” attraction by adding in dolls that are in wheelchairs!

What Happens to the Money in the Water?

There is something about bodies of water in public that we just feel like throwing in coins. Someone somewhere said that is how wishes are granted… Well, guess what, it’s true! Throwing your money into a body of Disney water does grant wishes.

We can’t say if your wish will come true, but all of the coins in the Disney fountains, attractions, and waterways are collected at least once a year and donated to various charities or children’s hospitals.

“it’s a small world” is no exception to the wishing well concept! Each year during the annual refurbishment Cast Members collect all of the coins from the attraction and accumulate over $100,000 to donate to charity!

This is a beautiful pattern considering that the ride was initially created to represent UNICEF, which is a charity that helps children.

FUN FACTS:

  • “it’s a small world” cost $1.5 million to create.
  • When “it’s a small world” is closed and the music turns off, the dolls do not! The little hula dancers are just shaking away all night in the silence… This is the stuff that horror movies are made of, folks!
  • “it’s a small world” holds a total of 500,000 gallons of water
  • The iconic clock in “it’s a small world” has a name. It’s Glockenspiel.
  • “it’s a small world” is sung in 5 different languages throughout the ride- English, Japanese, Swedish, Italian, and Spanish
  • “it’s a small world” has inspired other attractions to use the exact same boat system. Pirates of the Caribbean and Gran Fiesta Tour use the same boat system.
  • On opening day, Walt Disney invited children from around the world and had them bring a jar of water from their homeland to add to the attraction, making them all one.
  • At no point in a day is “it’s a small world” song not being played in at least 2 places in the world.
  • More than 256 million people have ridden “it’s a small world”.
  • During the World’s Fair, tickets to ride “it’s a small world” cost $0.95 for adults and $0.60 for children. They sold 10 million ride tickets during the fair and donated all of the money to UNICEF.
  • “it’s a small world” in the Magic Kingdom plays 1,200 times during a 16 hour day.
  • The song “it’s a small world” is the only Disney song to have no copyright. Disney said it was a true gift to the world to bring the world together. This means NO ONE receives royalties for the song.
  • Legendary animator Marc Davis helped to work on “it’s a small world”, and his wife created the costumes.
  • A Disney poll found that 1 in 4 families consider “it’s a small world” a tradition to ride on a Disney vacation. (That’s us, too!)
  • “it’s a small world” is in each of the 5 Disney parks around the world!

Are you singing the song now? Here, we’ll help you out!

It’s a world of laughter

A world of tears

It’s a world of hopes

And a world of fears

There’s so much that we share

That it’s time we’re aware

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small, small world

There is just one moon

And one golden sun

And a smile means

Friendship to ev’ryone

Though the mountains divide

And the oceans are wide

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small, small world

It’s a Small World (From “It’s a Small World”)

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