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LaughingPlace.com received the following letter from Dave Smith, Chief Archivist for the Walt Disney Co.
With regard to the current controversy about changes being made in It's a Small World at Disneyland, allow me, as the Chief Archivist at the Disney company for the past 38 years, to remind those who are complaining that Walt Disney never intended Disneyland to be static. To a reporter when Disneyland opened he said, "Disneyland will never be completed; it will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." He continued those thoughts to Pete Martin who was working on his biography, saying that Disneyland is "something that will never be finished. Something I can keep developing, keep plussing and adding to. It's alive. It will be a live, breathing thing that will need change. A picture is a thing, once you wrap it up and turn it over to Technicolor you're through. The one I wrapped up a few weeks ago, it's gone, I can't touch it. I wanted something alive, something that could grow, something I could keep plussing with ideas; the Park is that. Not only can I add things, but even the trees will keep growing. The things will get more beautiful each year." Walt Disney was constantly changing his park, just as he said he would. And those changes did not end with Walt's death over 40 years ago. The Disney Imagineers have continued to follow his dream, frequently adding and changing things in the park to give today's guests the best possible experience. The public expects more from Disney than they do from most companies, and we try to live up to that trust by continually improving a guest's visit to our park. And, sure enough, those trees have kept growing and getting more beautiful every year.
As a follow-up we asked him this question:
I've read many people who have said they're not opposed to change in Small World - or anywhere at Disneyland for that matter - but they are opposed to this specific change. While obviousy none of them know exactly what will be done, the addition of characters to what has up until now been a character free attraction is itself a change they are opposed to. Many feel it changes the focus away from "children of the world" to "Disney characters" and that's not what Small World is supposed to be about. Is that something you might be able to speak to?
Dave Smith answered the following
It is difficult for me to speak to that, since I do not know what characters are being put in the attraction, or what they will look like. But, we have added characters to previous character-free attractions: witness Pirates of the Caribbean (Jack Sparrow), Tiki Room (Iago, at the Magic Kingdom in FL), Treehouse (Tarzan), Big Thunder Ranch (Little Patch of Heaven), Tom Sawyer Island (Pirates Lair), Main Street Cinema (Disney cartoons), Haunted Mansion (Haunted Mansion Holiday), Submarine Voyage (Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage), El Rio del Tiempo (Gran Fiesta Tour, at Epcot), The Living Seas (starring Nemo and Friends, Epcot). Because of the great number of Audio-Animatronics children in Small World, I cannot imagine that the addition of a few characters like Alice in Wonderland will affect the theme.