Today, The Walt Disney Company is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world” around the globe. Please join us throughout the day as we share this celebration with you. 7:00 am: Good Morning America is in rehearsals for the sing-a-long at the site of the ’64 World’s Fair.
7:20 am: Children representing UNICEF in France join Disney VoluntEARS at Disneyland Paris
7:49 am: The audience of Good Morning America is warming up for the global sing-a-long
8:11 am: The choir is preparing for the sing along in front of Cinderella Castle 8:19 am: A children’s performing arts choir joins the cast choir as the televised sing-along approaches 8:31 am: Dolls from “it’s a small world” made their way to Times Square to join the anchors of Good Morning America 8:45 am: Magic Kingdom has announced that park hours have been extended by an hour for today and tomorrow. The park will now close at midnight on both days. You now have an extra hour to join the “it’s a small world” celebration today!
9:08 am: Apparently Dopey got lost on his way to “it’s a small world” and ended up at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in this picture from the Disney Parks Blog.
9:11 am: Imagineer Gary Landrum shares that “the music of ‘it’s a small world’ never stops around the world”
9:13 am: Meanwhile a conference of the history of “it’s a small world” is set to begin at Disneyland Paris (From Disneyland Paris’ Twitter account)
9:16 am: Walt Disney World costumer Janice Jones shares a costume from “it’s a small world”
— Matt (@mattkc1) April 10, 2014
10:24 am: Here is our interview with Walt Disney Imagineering’s Gary Landrum about the classic attraction.
11:29 am: Disney has put out a press release detailing the festivities of the day.
11:38 am: Check out pictures from the global sing-along at all 5 Disney theme park destinations.
11:55 am: Here is our video of the Main Street Philharmonic play the famous song at the Magic Kingdom
12:23 pm: The Dapper Dans join the celebration as well
12:29: The Casey Corner pianist did not want to be left out
12:47 pm: Yahoo has posted video of Good Morning America’s “it’s a small world” sing-along.
1:07 pm: Disney Parks has released this artwork of Disney characters done in the style of “it’s a small world”
1:10 pm: Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner shared his congratulations to “it’s a small world”
— Michael Eisner (@Michael_Eisner) April 10, 2014
1:47 pm: Disney is selling a new CD celebrating the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world.” It includes the attraction, a demo recording by the Sherman Brothers, and versions by a boys choir, chamber orchestra, electone, and orgel.
2:27 pm: From the Archives: Doug looks at the Avon small world collection.
3:39 pm: Disneyland Cast Members join the fun by singing the song.
3:57 pm: The Google+ hangout with Richard Sherman is about to begin
5:29 pm: Disney Parks has posted the video from Good Morning America this morning.
5:50 Richard Sherman lead an “it’s a small world” sing-along at Disneyland Park this afternoon.
10:06pm: Disney cast members past and present share their thoughts on “it’s a small world”
Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering
” ‘it’s a small world’ is an attraction about global harmony, celebrating the beauty of people coming together. Its enduring song is literally the soundtrack to the ideals of peace, unity and friendship, while the colorful cast of international dolls captures the essence of childlike wonder and optimism.”
Kim Irvine, Art Director for Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Imagineering
” ‘it’s a small world’ for Walt Disney World was the very first attraction I worked on! It was 1970 and I began my career in the WED (now Walt Disney Imagineering) Model Shop painting the dolls and toys under the direction of Mary Blair, Marc Davis and Joyce Carlson. I learned so much from those wonderful people and we had so much fun! Since then, I myself have art directed many refurbishments of Disneyland’s attraction. It holds a very special place in my heart.
I think that when adults enter Disneyland, they feel like kids again. They can okay and wear Mouse ears and go on carousels and attractions without feeling silly about it. Everyone is happy together. Strangers smile at each other. And that is what ‘it’s a small world’ represents. It makes us feel good.
Rolly Crump, Alice Davis and many of the original Imagineers had many fun stories about the refitting of ‘it’s a small world’ when it came to Disneyland from the New York World’s Fair. Rolly tells one story about hurrying to get the model of the facade, flume and queue built before Walt arrived at the model shop to take a look. They had a bunch of artificial trees that they were trying to place, but when Walt arrived early, someone left the on the roof. As Walt was looking at it arms remarked, ‘That’s a great idea guys! The boxed trees on the roof disguise the building shape and make it look like there’s a berm back there!’ They all smiled and nodded at each other. There were boxed trees on the roof up until just a few years ago!”
Marty Sklar, President, Disney Legend and former Walt Disney Imagineering executive, Walt Disney Imagineering
“We were under such an incredibly tight time schedule (at the New York World’s Fair) and the construction of the building had to begin before Walt Disney or anyone else had any idea what sort of show would go inside. However, everyone understood that this was for and about children… and the team spirit we all felt was extraordinary. It really was a labor of love.”
Richard Sherman, Oscar-winning songwriter/composer
“When Robert (brother and partner Robert Sherman) and I sat down to write the song, we were given very explicit instructions: a simple song that would convey the message that we have a very small world to live on, we all have the same problems, the same joys, the same sorrows – we share these things. Let’s learn how to live together, respect each other and give each other room to just get along. Those were our instructions; Walt gave them to us directly, and so we were very, very moved by those thoughts.
There’s a statement: you’re not just going on a ride… it’s not just that. People love it,and they go on it all the time, because something inside of them is touched by it.
We thought, ‘Well, when the World’s Fair over, that will be the end of it. For two years, they’ll have this thing. We never dreamed it would have the ‘legs’ as they call it, the distance that it’s run.’
It’s very fulfilling in the fact that my wife and I have traveled all over the world, we’ve been in many, many countries, and no matter where we go, the children know that song and they sing it… in their own language.”
Rolly Crump, Disney Legend and Imagineer Designer for “it’s a small world”
“Walt wanted Mary (Blair) to be the stylist for the show because all of her work was very childlike and very beautiful. So she really became the stylist and art director of what the sets looked like. She and I started working together. She was very good at illustrating flat, but she didn’t really understand three-dimension, so I was helping her with that.
Then I was assigned to do all the toys. I started building all the toys that are one the ride, and made them out of Styrofoam and then added paper mâché. There were 30 of us that worked together to develop about 200 toys for the ride. Some of them have been taken out and recast in fiberglass, but a lot of them, like the ones that are on the bicycle – I actually built the ones of the bicycle – they’re still Styrofoam and paper mâché. It was fun and we had a great time making the toys.”
Alice Davis, Disney Legend and Imagineering Costume Designer for “it’s a small world”
“It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. When I was a girl, during the Depression, we didn’t have a lot of things but what I missed most was that I didn’t have any dolls. I made a little rag doll for myself and hid it in my bed. So when Walt’s secretary called and asked if I wanted to make clothes for all of these beautiful dolls, I said, ‘Would I?’ so loud you could have heard me in China.
I asked Walt how much I could spend and he looked at me and cocked his eyebrow, like he did sometimes, and said, ‘We don’t think like that here. I sent you yo do whatever it takes to make these dolls look like dolls every woman in the world would want to have.'”
11:40 pm: We conclude our coverage of the celebration with this video of Imagineer Kim Irvine. Look for more on the celebration in the coming days on LaughingPlace.com
FanBoy is a Disney dweeb who has worked at Disneyland and Walt Disney World