The Happiest Virtual Cruise That Ever Sailed

“There's so much that we share

That it's time we're aware

It's a small world after all”

If there ever was a case of life giving you lemons and you decide to make lemonade, consider the upcoming Virtual Small World Challenge.

For the second consecutive year, Delaware organizer John Rigney and his crewmates were planning to set sail on the “it’s a small world” attraction at Walt Disney World in August for a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. But then the COVID-19 crisis struck. Disney World shut down and it looked like a bleak situation for this year’s fundraiser.

Even after the Orlando theme parks reopened, Rigney and friends realized it would be near impossible for people to travel from all corners of the country to participate in the “happiest cruise that ever sailed” for a very worthy cause. Rigney said an event like the Small World Challenge is difficult to navigate in normal times and thought it would be nearly impossible to manage, maintain social distancing and assure the health and safety of participants and others.

So, a brainstorming session occurred and as John and his friends put on their mouse ears to figure out a way to salvage the fundraiser, someone came up with the idea of a virtual ride on the attraction.

That resulted in the 24-Hour Small World Challenge, setting sail on Friday, October 16th at 8 p.m. EDT to Saturday, October 17th at 8 p.m. EDT. The daylong, worldwide event will take the form of a Zoom virtual meeting and will be streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch.

“Most of us plan to stay for the full 24 hours,” Rigney boasts. “We are theming each hour to a different theme. We’ll have a Christmas theme, a costume theme, food theme,” the organizer details and what virtual ride would not be complete unless there was Dole Whip involved. Participants will be treated to a number of fun guests to talk Disney trivia as well as medical professionals to discuss the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The virtual tour will launch on the Zoom call where participants and invited guests will experience riding the attraction like never before. Rigney says POV or “point of view” videos of one of the “it’s a small world” rides from a Disney Park around the globe will be featured at the top of each hour after which guests can talk about the experience, share Disney memories and make new friends from around the corner as well as perhaps around the world.

The virtual ride will come complete with a getting back in line portion of the challenge where participants will be able to play games, watch other videos, and chat with other guests on the Zoom call. And before you know it, Rigney observes it will be time to take another ride by watching another “it’s a small world” ride video.

This routine will be repeated every hour for 24 hours with the last virtual ride scheduled to embark on Saturday, October 17th at 8 p.m. EDT

While organizers are not sure how much money they will be raising this year due to the pandemic and economic factors facing people and charities across the globe, they are at least hoping to meet last year’s goal of approximately $40,000.

For their first attempt in 2019, Rigney says he and his crew of 20 rode the ride from rope drop to park closing taking about 23 trips on the attraction and spending about eight-and-a-half hours in line waiting to board the next voyage. “We had people on our team last year from as far away as Washington State, Utah, as well as Indiana, New Jersey, Delaware, Atlanta and Florida, as well as other places,” Rigney notes. With using the Zoom meeting technology, it is conceivable that people can join the challenge from all over the world.

Rigney says while the Zoom call-turned-virtual-ride is meant to be fun for all participants the ultimate goal of the challenge is to raise needed funds for LLS. If you would like to participate in the challenge or become a fundraising sponsor you can do so by going to their site or visiting the group’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

Whether you commit to the entire 24-hours or drop in and out over the course of the virtual ride, the Small World Challenge is a way to join other Disney fans in participating in a unique and fun event, share Disney memories and help raise money for an important and worthy cause.