50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world”

small world anniversary

This week, Disney Parks are celebrating the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world” attraction. In honor of the infamous theme park attraction, thousands of Disney fans and cast members from around the world joined for a historic “it’s a small world” sing along. Fans participated online at SmallWorld50.com, a site created for the celebration of the attraction that originally opened at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, explained that “‘it’s a small world’ has inspired hundreds of millions of people through its timeless theme.” He continued, “Every moment of every day there are Disney guests enjoying ‘it’s a small world’ somewhere around the globe.  The 50th anniversary of this attraction represents a celebration of the shared optimism, hope, and humanity of people throughout the world.”

For the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world”, guests in all five Disney Parks around the world participated in events, such as in-park sing-alongs, cavalcades and special musical performances. Richard M. Sherman, the Oscar®-winning songwriter who composed “It’s a Small World” with his late brother, Robert, even led a sing-along at Disneyland Park in California.

Leading up to the anniversary, guests from more than 150 countries had already joined the celebration at SmallWorld50.com. These guests designed digital dolls and recorded videos of themselves singing the song so that Disney would donate $250,000 to benefit UNICEF. You can view these videos and dolls through May 30 on the site.

Celebrations at All Five Disney Resorts Worldwide
Presently, there are “it’s a small world” attractions at the Disneyland Resort in California (where the World’s Fair attraction was relocated in 1966), Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris in France and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. All five parks joined in the worldwide sing-along and held other events to commemorate the 50th anniversary.

  • At Hong Kong Disneyland, approximately 200 resort cast members and students from Hong Kong Children’s Choir gathered in the park to sing “It’s a Small World” in Cantonese. A traditional Chinese lion dancer joined in the celebration to offer blessing for the anniversary.
  • Tokyo Disneyland cast members and guests celebrated and sang the song in Japanese at Tokyo Disneyland.
  • A “blue carpet” event featured the international cast members of Disneyland Paris gathered on Main Street, U.S.A., representing 100 nationalities. Nearly 200 international children and 50 choir performers sang a multi-language version of the iconic anthem in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
  • A choir of Disneyland Resort cast members sang the song in front of the original attraction at Disneyland Park in Anaheim. Songwriter Richard Sherman chatted with fans via Google Hangout while sitting at a piano in front of the attraction. He also was scheduled to appear in a sing-along cavalcade down Main Street, U.S.A., conducting hundreds of Disneyland guests in their “It’s a Small World” sing-along.
  • At Walt Disney World near Orlando, international cast members from the countries of Epcot led a choir of children and cast members in song in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park. Also, hundreds of Magic Kingdom guests joined in the song during a special “pre-parade” before the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade.” Throughout the day, in-park performers – the Dapper Dans, Coke Corner Pianist, Notorious Banjo Brothers, Royal Majesty Maker Musicians and Main Street Philharmonic – are scheduled to include “It’s a Small World” in their appearances.

Disney Store has also joined the celebration with the “it’s a small world” doll collection, inspired by the original Fantasyland attraction, plus in-store events. Through Sunday, April 13, children can visit a participating Disney Store and take a journey on an imaginary boat ride around the globe, learning how to say “hello” in various languages and sing “It’s a Small World” along the way.

The Creation of a Classic  

“it’s a small world” features a gentle boat ride through a Lilliputian land populated by colorfully dressed Audio-Animatronics dolls. The dolls represent children from many areas of the world, all singing a song about universal harmony. A team of Walt Disney Imagineering artistic geniuses, including Disney Legends designer Mary Blair and costumer Alice Davis, created the attraction’s now iconic style.

In 1963, Walt Disney was asked to create an exhibit for the 1964 World’s Fair to salute UNICEF and children around the world. With Walt’s blessing, Marc Davis, one of the original Disney animators, designed the boat ride attraction through the regions and countries of the world. The first version of “it’s a small world” entertained and thrilled more than 10 million visitors in New York from 1964-65. In 1966, after some major enhancements, including an enlargement of approximately 33 percent, the attraction found a permanent home at Disneyland in California.

In the attraction, hundreds of dolls “sing” the familiar song, “It’s a Small World,” in five languages (English, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish). Academy Award®-winning composers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who won two Oscars® for their work on Disney’s feature film “Mary Poppins,” were asked by Walt Disney to create a simple, yet catchy piece that could be sung in many different languages while guests traveled by boat through the attraction. The resulting song, “It’s a Small World (After All),” became one of the most well known and happiest of all Disney tunes.

Did you participate in the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world”?

Siera is a Disney travel specialist. She would love to help you plan your next vacation at no cost to you. Request your free, no obligation quote on the right side of the page or email siera@destinationsinflorida.com for more information. 

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