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Monday, May 13, 2024

it’s a small world Part Three: The Impossible Project

When we last left the story of the happiest cruise that ever sailed, Joan Crawford had been given control of Pepsi’s 1964 World’s Fair project, an attraction whose proceeds would benefit UNICEF. After a lengthy internal battle, the company had no firm plans and a potential disaster on its hands. Joan was certain that her Hollywood friend Walt Disney could put something amazing together quickly.

Joan flew out to Los Angeles and scheduled a meeting with Walt Disney and his imagineers. Those who were present at the meeting were curious about what exactly Joan wanted and why she was meeting with them at WED in Glendale, rather than with the studio executives in Burbank. Needless to say, they were extremely busy at the time, and while getting a visit from a glamorous Hollywood legend might have normally been an exciting prospect, on that day everyone was extremely busy with projects for Disneyland and the World’s Fair.

Joan, glamorously dressed and carefully coiffed, dramatically entered the room. Addressing her friend Walt Disney, she apologized for her intrusion and carefully explained that Pepsi needed an attraction for the 1964 World’s Fair that would benefit UNICEF. The Imagineers who were present found her to be very theatrical and were certain that Walt Disney would send her on her way, apologizing for the fact that he could not help her due to everything else they were working on. Walt Disney’s response would surprise everyone present.

Walt Disney told Ms. Crawford that they were working on just the sort of attraction that she and Pepsi were looking for- “Children of the World.” Guests would board brightly colored boats and take a ride around the world. Adorable dolls, dressed in their native clothing would dance and perform their various national anthems. Bright backgrounds and set pieces would feature stylized versions of the landmarks around the world. Joan loved the idea and was certain it would be exactly what UNICEF and Pepsi were looking for. Walt escorted an excited Joan, who most likely was reveling in the win. Her next contact with the rest of the Pepsi board would probably feature some classy gloating. After she left the room, the puzzled imagineers had one question- what attraction was Walt talking about?