“it’s a small world” is one of the most beloved attractions at Disneyland. After 42 years, people from around the world still bake a beeline for this charming, low-tech, whimsical boat ride. Yet, in 2008 it was showing its age and in need of refurbishment. So the Disney Imagineers shut the ride down for some months as they made repairs, spruced up existing characters and scenes, and added a few subtle changes.
In particular, Disneyland has added a couple dozen new “residents” to the “it’s a small world” community. The ride re-opened to the Disneyland public on Friday, February 6, 2009 after a day or two of limited access. We took a ride through “small world” on Friday with a former cast member who had been a Lead and Trainer on the attraction. She helped us identify and photograph many of the changes.
The exterior of “it’s a small world” has not changed much, which apparently is just the way millions of visitors want it. There’s some new paint and minor touches, but it still has the same quaint entrance. Despite the simple technology, guests to Disneyland just love this ride. Repairs included major work on the fiberglass flumes in which the boats travel; they were leaking water in surprising quantities we’re told.
There was no-doubt a lot of work on pumps, controllers and other unexciting behind-the-scenes stuff. Our former cast member did observe that the boats moved more smoothly through the ride, especially near the loading area.
What was done inside “it’s a small world?” We are pleased to report that the Disneyland designers have stayed true to the original feel. The ride actually looks much the same inside; the most obvious change is that the guests now float through one new room showing vignettes of Americana– a room more-fully dedicated to Walt Disney’s homeland and North America in general. It includes a bit of Hollywood, along with a scene of farmland and the frontier west.
However, scattered throughout “it’s a small world” are little additions. You have to look for them; some are easy to spot and others require good eyes. This will make it more fun for Disneyland guests who are very familiar with the ride; look for new additions like you watch for Hidden MIckeys in the park or seek references to the movies in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction.
Near the beginning of your world cruise you’ll see Alice and the White Rabbit. Cinderella is also there with a couple of her mice friends. You’ll come across Pinocchio (with short nose), and shortly thereafter will find Aladdin, Abu and Jasmine flying overhead with their friends (no Genie that we saw). Ariel and Flounder are there along with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell. There are quite a few other favorite Disney characters, old and new. Look for Sheriff Woody and his companion Bullseye from Toy Story. Donald Duck can be found south of the border. The music has been tweaked a bit, with new ethnic instruments added here and there.
So if you’ve been a fan of “it’s a small world” you won’t be disappointed. The new additions (over two dozen we’re told) will have you paying attention as you float from continent to continent, making the attraction more fun for newcomers and old timers alike. If you are a local, put “it’s a small world” back on your Disneyland attraction list!
Related Disneyland Articles