Yep, I’m a Disney nerd. A Disnerd, if you will.
The movies, eh, I’m not that big on. But when it comes the world of theme parks, in my opinion, there is none higher.
So a little part of me freaked out with the rest of my fellow Disnerds last year when Disneyland announced it was “reworking” their It’s a Small World attraction to squeeze in a few trade characters.
First, to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the ride. It’s a long ride with an even longer theme song, and it’s not the most thrilling fifteen minutes you’ll spend in the park. Still, I’m able to enjoy it because A) it’s one of the few rides left that Walt actually had a hand in designing, and B) I love the work of the true architect of the ride, artist Mary Blair.
But just because I’m not a huge Small World fan doesn’t mean I want some marketing morons going in and screwing it up by plastering Mickey’s face all over the place. The park already has enough of that in every nook and cranny, and it definitely doesn’t need more of it inside its rides.
I was able to ride the new version of It’s a Small World three days after it re-opened and, I have to admit, I was fearing the absolute worst. But the truth is, it’s not that bad.
Some of the new characters stick out like a sore thumb, while others are blended in so well that I had to have our friend Ryan (who works in the park) point them out to me.
So let’s go in the order that you’d see them appear on the ride. I’m pretty sure I got all of them, but my apologies if I missed a shot or two.
Not bad. Both characters are stylized enough, yet maintain a nod of acknowledgment to the overall design of the ride. Although, they were right outside of the boat. They could have been pushed back into the set a little more.
Great. I never would have noticed this one without Ryan. Blending in as it should.
Another good example of working something in rather than forcing it in. This wasn’t as obvious as previous ones because it was higher than eye level; although, the lights around it do guide the viewer right to it.
Hanging above the boats, and done in typical Mary Blair style. If the flying carpet had been different, I never would have thought twice about this being Aladdin.
Teetering that fine line between “fitting in” and “standing out.” It’s not perfect, but it definitely could have been worse. For example…
…like this. Donald Duck is the only “classic” Disney character incorporated into the ride and they absolutely should have left him out. This isn’t some Small World take on Donald Duck; this is Donald Duck thrown into Small World. The most successful additions are the humans because that’s what the bulk of the ride features. Throwing a Mariachi Donald Duck into the mix is just distracting.
I’m not sure what kind of “people” live under the sea, but who cares about that when you can throw a mermaid into the ride? After all, you can kill two birds with one stone because if you work in Ariel that means you can also easily work in…
…Dori and Nemo. Yeah, these last two should have been left out. They’re too obvious, too much their own thing.
This one I’m 50/50 on. I can accept Lilo, but Stitch is a stretch. At least Hawaii is a part of Earth. Space? Not so much.
And finally, the brand-new Tribute to America room. I also have mixed feelings on these characters because they can work as “humans” if need be, but I just can’t come to grips with the reality of a Tribute to America room! Even though I think they look pretty good, I’d be willing to lose the characters if it meant we could get rid of the new room entirely.
And finally, I want to leave you with my favorite (and a classic) character from the original ride.
Before the overhaul, the Tribute to America room was the Rainforest room. They managed to keep the Rainforest room–albeit a more crammed and condensed version of what it once was–and save the umbrella-holding alligator in the process. Hey, it’s not perfect by any means, but at least he’s still there.
So that’s the rundown, folks. I have to admit, it’s not as terrible as I had feared. In fact, it’s kind of cool in parts.
Just get rid of that Tribute to America room. For the love of all that is holy. Please.
A world of hopes and a world of fears,