March 20, 2008
The It’s a Small World attraction has Disneyland’s most cloying song, yes, but also its most enlightened message. Originally created by Disney artist Mary Blair for the 1964 World’s Fair, the ride partnered with UNICEF to make a statement about shared humanity using images of doll children around the world. Created at the height of the Cold War, it was refreshingly free of both political posturing and Disney product placement. But no more. Re-Imagineering, a newsletter for discontented Disney designers, reveals that Disneyland is inserting Mickey Mouse, Nemo, Belle and other trademarked characters into the experience. It is also replacing a New Guinea rainforest scene with a “loud, garish, tacky and aggressively incongruous Hooray for U.S.A. set piece.” Blair and the original designers consciously gave the United States equal, limited billing with the other countries (a simple cowboy and Indian in the finale). The changes will take place while the ride’s boats are made larger to accommodate today’s overweight American tourists.