Disney to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 'it's a small world' with global sing-along and anniversary website

Mar 21, 2014 in "it's a small world"

Posted: Friday March 21, 2014 9:39am EST by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney is celebrating the 50th anniversary of 'it's a small world' with a global sing along at Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris in France and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

The in-park events will take place on Thursday April 10 2014, but for those who can't be there in person, Disney has invited fans everywhere to join the global sing-along virtually.

SmallWorld50.com launches today as a “global hub” of music and harmony where guests may record videos of themselves singing the classic song and create virtual “it’s a small world” dolls to benefit UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). UNICEF provides health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more to children around the world.

"'it's a small world’ has inspired hundreds of millions of people through its timeless theme," said Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "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."

The Walt Disney Company will donate $150,000 to benefit UNICEF in honor of the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world,” plus $1 for every sing-along video recorded on SmallWorld50.com and another $1 for every virtual doll created on the website, up to $100,000. Disney began its relationship with UNICEF in 1964 with the debut of “it’s a small world” at the New York World’s Fair. More recently, Disney and UNICEF have worked together to create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of children through programming that helps foster imagination and creativity.

One of the most beloved attractions in the history of Disney Parks, “it’s a small world” is featured at all five Disney Resorts around the world. The original attraction premiered at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, created by Walt Disney himself and WED Enterprises, which eventually became Walt Disney Imagineering (the creative masters behind Disney theme parks and attractions).

The attraction features a gentle boat ride through a Lilliputian land populated by colorfully dressed Audio-Animatronics dolls representing children from many regions of the world singing a simple song about universal harmony. A team of WED artistic geniuses, including Disney Legends designer Mary Blair and costumer Alice Davis, created its 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.

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tirianMay 27, 2014

It's a Small World is one of my favorite rides. No kidding. It's a classic and the song changes just enough that I don't go crazy. I prefer the flooded sets in Florida over the flume in DL, too; Florida simply needs a grander entrance.

LomeinchopsMay 27, 2014

If they did move IASW to epcot don't you think they should keep the dolls designs right now except for the faces and the movements. I wish they kept the original movements and faces.

CommunicoreApr 15, 2014

The original IASW at MK had a groovy entrance, which is basically 70's so that's why it didn't have the facade.

Kman101Apr 15, 2014

While it was nice to see the sing-along and it was a bit touching, I mean ... really? That's how they honor an attraction or an anniversary. Not sure what I personally expected, and I don't know what else they really could do, but it's like Disney/WDW/etc. as a whole just does the least amount possible and as long as they do SOMETHING it's seen as this grand gesture. A chat with Richard Sherman and just all is right in the world ... sigh. It's also a shame that a park with as much space as WDW shoehorned the ride underneath a carnival facade while all the others are in their own building with a great facade. I guess at least they TRIED at WDW to duplicate that ... in a dark queue. Oh well. Just a personal little gripe :/ Seriously how hard would it be for WDW to replicate it's facade OUTSIDE, at least on some level. Not that it would fit with the "Tangled toilets" but that doesn't seem to matter anymore.

dreamfinderApr 15, 2014

People have posted pics both of some CM sing along down in the hub that was closed off to the general public, as well as pics of the Main Street band playing the song while marching down Main Street. Think that was about it, would have been shocked if we got anything more than that.

yellowbApr 14, 2014

We were at WDW last Thursday and we were hoping for some kind of event for the 50th anniversary. I thought they were doing an event at each of the parks, but instead we were pointed to the gift shop to buy some merchandise. The cast member at the entrance mentioned that they were given some cake though.

dstrawn9889Apr 14, 2014

as i stood wondering if i should ride this earworm weekend before last, i noticed standby at 10 minutes... i must have been projecting my thoughts to the CC1 posted. he looked at my expression and my stance, and said "Might as well get it over with..." i smiled and entered the queue. /achievement unlocked: earworm //still a better show than Twilight

Californian ElitistApr 14, 2014


Cmdr_CrimsonApr 11, 2014

There are a few good renditions...If you look for them.. Rock Guitar Version Eurobeat Version And my favorite one Ron Schneider (Dreamfinder) Sings One Little Spark while Riding The ride

rct247Apr 11, 2014

Just curious, but how is today it's a small world's anniversary date, when the fair didn't open until April 22, 1964? Did it's a small world open early? Did the fair soft-open? If so, did Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and The Magic Skyway all open at various dates or all on April 22?

WDWFantasmicFanApr 10, 2014

Google Hangout LIVE now!!

FigmentJediApr 10, 2014

Nice touch throwing a couple Muppets into the mix considering what happened decades ago.

RandomPrincessApr 10, 2014

Thanks it works. Disappointed they didn't go to the DL for the IASW piece. That's the one that was at the World's Fair.

PhotoDave219Apr 10, 2014

Why yes thats correct but there are no celebration plans in the making.