Featured Attractions

Saturday, May 25, 2024

it’s a small world Part Six: The Sherman Brothers To The Rescue

Richard and Robert Sherman were the sons of famed Tin Pan Alley songwriter Al Sherman. The brothers chose to start writing songs together at the urging of their father. They were originally brought into Walt Disney Productions to write pop songs for up and coming talent Annette Funicello. Having proven themselves after the phenomenal success of the songs they wrote for Annette, Walt Disney decided to hire them as full time staff writers. A rarity then and virtually unknown now, the staff writer positions gave the Sherman Brothers a stable income in a 9 to 5 style job in an industry that rarely afforded such stability.

In exchange for this stability, the Shermans were expected to write songs for whichever projects they were assigned to. As a result, they worked on a wide variety of projects- from pop songs to film scores and beyond. At the time that Walt Disney was busy working on projects for the 1964 World’s Fair, the brothers were busy working on a project that was near and dear to Walt Disney’s heart- Mary Poppins. The brothers had also been working on music for some of the other World’s Fair projects when Walt Disney invited them to see “Children of the World”. After hearing the disastrous soundtrack, the brothers were asked to come up with something that would be a better, more harmonious fit with the existing ride.

They needed to write a catchy song that would sound good regardless of the language it was sung in and could be seamlessly integrated with the existing attraction. And they had to do it quickly so that the attraction could open on time. It was a seemingly impossible task. But as Walt Disney was proud of saying- anything is possible in Disneyland!

The Sherman Brothers originally delivered the song with a slower tempo. After they sped up the song at Walt’s request, it was instantly approved. This was the song that the attraction needed- the one that would make it an instant classic! In fact, Walt Disney was so pleased by the song that he renamed the attraction after the song- it’s a small world. With the song completed and the attraction ready to go, it’s a small world would make its first cross country trip to Flushing Meadows and the 1964 World’s Fair.