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Monday, May 20, 2024

it’s a small world Part Four: Wait, what?

When we last left our story, Walt Disney had just agreed to take on another huge project for his friend Joan Crawford and Pepsi. As he escorted her out of the building, the assembled imagineers were befuddled. A ride with singing dolls called “Children of the World”?!? What in the world was Walt talking about? Did he pull this idea out of nowhere? Oddly enough, this wasn’t the first time something like this happened- Walt was always coming up with things seemingly out of thin air.

Roy Disney had become accustomed to this sort of thing; he would constantly run into investors or friends who would describe the most amazing new movie, attraction or television show that Walt had told them about. They’d ask Roy what the status of the project was and he’d have to admit that he hadn’t ever heard about the thing that Walt was talking about. Apparently, ideas were always swimming around in Walt’s head and he was always eager to get them out in the world. So when it seemed as though Walt had pulled an idea out of thin air, it was most likely something that he’d been thinking about for awhile.

That proved to be the case with “Children of the World”. Famed artist Mary Blair had worked on concept art for Disney in the past and Walt Disney had wanted to use her talents for something that could exist in Disneyland as a living, breathing work of art. He had been kicking around the idea of an attraction highlighting the children of the world for awhile, though he hadn’t ever spoken about it with anyone before Joan Crawford stepped into Imagineering to beg Walt to do something for Pepsi.

With Pepsi’s money and Mary Blair’s talent, Walt had found a way to bring another of his ideas into the world. But could they do it in time to open the groundbreaking attraction at the 1964 World’s Fair? Walt was certain they could. The imagineers were less confident they could, but with all the work that needed to be done, they didn’t even have time to worry. Work on “Children of the World” would begin immediately.