Featured Attractions

Monday, May 30, 2016

"it's a small world" at 50 Part 1: Laying the Groundwork

When Pepsi-Cola first decided to partner with UNICEF to build an attraction at the 1964 New York World's Fair, it thought things would go smoothly. The attraction could be decided upon and built in New York just in time for the grand opening. It would not be that easy; this week, we uncover the story behind the happiest cruise that ever sailed and how it would take several Disney legends, the head of UNICEF, Walt Disney, the Anaheim city council and even Joan Crawford to see this beloved attraction become reality.

Pepsi and wire hangers for all!

By 1961, DISNEYLAND had become a bonafide hit; a place that was hosting millions of guests from around the world every year. The park went through some growing pains as it began to expand and improve its offerings. It hit its first limitation rather early. Manchester Road, which currently dead ends at Harbor Blvd, used to loop around and mark the northern most boundary of the park, separating it from the maintenance and warehouse facilities used by the park. Operations had to cross the street to get to the park when they needed to do work inside the park. To picture where the boundary was, if you stand in front of it's a small world today, you would have standing outside the park in 1961, dodging cars on the public street. 


With his brother Roy reluctant to buy more land around the park, Walt saw owning that street as important to future growth. The City of Anaheim was a bit skeptical, however. DUSNEYLAND owned all the surrounding property, so closing the road wouldn't really affect anyone else, but was this the sort of thing that should be done? The city council convened a committee to look into it and the committee members were dumbfounded by the council's reticence. DISNEYLAND had brought the world to Anaheim. In their minds, selling or giving the road to DISNEYLAND was a no-brainer. Instead of evaluating the proposal, they sought to find a precedent that would give them a reason to approve it. They quickly found one and the land was sold to DISNEYLAND.

This all fit fortuitously into Walt Disney's plans. He had planned to make his services available to major corporations to design, build and operate attractions at the upcoming World's Fair in New York and this small land purchase would guarantee him the extra space he would need when he brought those attractions home to DISNEYLAND.