Featured Attractions

Monday, June 10, 2024

it’s a small world Part Eight: The Dolls Go Home

The charming attraction it’s a small world was a huge success and one of the most popular attractions at the New York World’s Fair. It would certainly be a slam dunk success at Disneyland as well, so Walt Disney planned to bring the attraction back home to Anaheim. He made a particularly attractive offer to Pepsi- if they sponsored the attraction at Disneyland, he would apply the money they already paid out for the ride’s construction in New York against their sponsorship fee. But as you might remember, the company’s board of directors were still fighting amongst themselves- and the exhibit’s success was seen as being Joan Crawford’s success. They weren’t going to give her a further win, so they declined the offer and paid Walt Disney for services rendered. 

Joan would get her revenge from beyond the grave, however, when The Walt Disney Company decided to serve only Coke or Pepsi in its parks and not both as it had since 1955. Pepsi probably would have had the upper hand in these negotiations had it decided to sponsor it’s a small world in Disneyland. Instead, Coca-Cola won out and Pepsi was booted from the parks.

Undeterred, Walt Disney still planned on moving the ride back to California so he asked Mary Blair to design a new ride facade more suitable for his Magic Kingdom. The company had previously purchased the public road that separated the park from its utility area. it’s a small world would be built just north of the previous park border, extending Fantasyland and slightly adjusting the Disneyland Railroad’s path.

While Disneyland didn’t really need a sponsor for the attraction, it quickly found one. Bank of America was in the middle of a huge expansion push at the time, and while its Main Street bank branch had given it exposure, a full-fledged attraction sponsorship would put it in the big leagues. Walt Disney had a great affinity for Bank of America since they had provided much of the financing for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the 1930’s and for Disneyland itself in 1955. It was a natural partnership.

it’s a small world held its grand opening ceremony in 1965. Children from around the world, wearing their native dress, were flown to Disneyland to participate in the opening ceremonies. Water from the great rivers of the world was poured into the attraction during the opening ceremonies, which were nationally televised over the NBC network just days after Walt Disney passed away in 1966.

Today, it’s a small world still delights children of all ages at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Its dazzling visuals, hopeful tune and enduring message of peace is a beacon of light in a grim world. In 2011, the Sherman Brothers would write a new verse to their beloved song- the last lyrics that Robert Sherman would ever write:

It’s a world of wonder
A world of worth
And in years to come
We’ll know peace on earth

We will open our eyes
And we’ll all realize
It’s A Small World After All

If, as the Sherman Brothers once wrote, Disneyland is the land of dreams come true- it’s a small world is its biggest, loveliest dream.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Today in Disney History: Donald Duck Begins

Donald Duck’s first picture- The Wise Little Hen
premieres June 9, 1934

it’s a small world Part Seven: The Grand Premiere

With the addition of a new song written by the Sherman Brothers, it’s a small world was now ready to go. The attraction began its first cross country trek to Flushing Meadows to get reassembled and begin its New York World’s Fair run. After seeing the finished attraction, Joan Crawford was ecstatic. UNICEF and the press were extremely impressed by the attraction and it received glowing reviews. Joan was especially excited by the fact that her input and Hollywood contacts made the attraction possible- saving Pepsi’s reputation in the process.

When the attraction was ready for its grand opening, Walt Disney flew his characters in from Disneyland for an elaborate opening ceremony and Joan Crawford couldn’t have been happier. In front of the world and (more importantly) her fellow Pepsi board members, Joan reveled in her huge success.

Joan carefully coordinated the grand opening, making herself the face of this grand attraction. Mingling with specially invited children from around the world and the Disney characters, she made it clear that she was responsible for this success. Meanwhile, the Pepsi board members who opposed Joan were biting their tongues and  biding their time. For now, however, Joan was basking in her success.