"it's a small world"

Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom Park

  • Land: Fantasyland
  • Type: Mild Ride
Where: Fantasyland
Height: Any Height
Experience: Fun For Little Ones
Duration: 12 minutes, 30 seconds

"it's a small world," a gentle boat ride that's fun for little ones as well as Guests of all ages, is in the Fantasyland area in Magic Kingdom theme park. Climb aboard and glide past nearly 300 brightly costumed dolls and animals as they sing "it's a small world" and dance on the shores of the Seven Seaways water canals that embrace this miniature globe.

Dressed in costumes that represent more than 100 nations, the dolls sing the "it's a small world" song lyrics in 5 languages. Boundaries dissolve and continents are connected by this singular song. After all, this attraction-first designed for the 1964 New York World's Fair-has Walt Disney's personal touch.

The original concept for "it's a small world" had the dolls singing the national anthem from each country they represented. A good idea in theory, but everyone singing a different tune resulted in a musical cacophony that clearly weakened the attraction's theme of harmony.

In the mid-1960s, Walt Disney interrupted staff composers Robert and Richard Sherman's work on the score for the upcoming Disney film, Mary Poppins, to write the single theme song for "it's a small world."

Because of the repetition and because the Sherman Brothers used a musical technique called counterpoint, where the same chords are played over and over again but with different melodies, the song they wrote is catchy and unforgettable.

At the first presentation to Walt Disney, Robert and Richard Sherman performed "it's a small world" song while walking through a scale model of the attraction, singing and clapping their hands. Walt was delighted.

In full spirit of international unity, "it's a small world" song was recorded in various studios around the world. The song was sung by a church choir in London, TV performers in Mexico City, a school chorus in Rome, Italy, and by children from Tokyo, Japan and Burbank, California.

Touring Tips

  • Kids of all ages will enjoy this ride. There is nothing scary about it - no drops, no darkness, and no sudden loud noises or surprises.
  • It's a Small World is a continuous loading ride; that is, as soon as one boatload of visitors disembarks, another is then loaded on. Each boat can hold up to 20 people. During crowded times, the boats often back up at the end of the ride and sometimes gently bump each other, so do not stand or allow your children to stand until the Cast Member beckons you to unload.
  • This attraction is a great place to visit when it's very hot outside, as the cool air will refresh you.
  • There are many many different dolls to spot as you wind along the waterway. Look for wooden soldiers, cancan dancers, balloonists, chess pieces, Tower of London guards, bagpipers and leprechauns, gooseherds, little Dutch children in wooden shoes, Don Quixote and a goatherd, yodelers and gondoliers, dancers from Greece and Thailand, snake charmers, Japanese kite flyers, hippos, giraffes, frogs, hyenas, monkeys, elephants, surfers, dolphins and much more!


  • First opened October 1, 1971 and updated October 21, 2010.
  • There are a total of 289 dolls that "sing" the familiar song, "it's a small world," in five languages (English, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish).
  • All four theme parks have a version of It's a Small World.
  • The ride's artist and designer Mary Blair also created the huge multi-story murals on the Grand Canyon Concourse at Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort.
  • Academy Award-winning composers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who won two Oscars for their work on Disney's feature film "Mary Poppins," were asked by Walt Disney to create a simple, yet catchy, piece that could be sung in many different languages while guests traveled by boat through the attraction -- thus, the famous "it's a small world" theme song was born. The song was recorded by a church choir in London, a school chorus in Rome, Italy, TV performers in Mexico City and kids from Tokyo and Burbank, California. It was later spliced together with sounds and styles that represent 25 countries.


It's a Small World was created by WED Enterprises as the 1964 New York World's Fair's UNICEF pavilion sponsored by Pepsi. It featured a kinetic sculpture, The Tower of the Four Winds, a 120-foot perpetually spinning mobile created by WED designer Rolly Crump, at its entrance. It was one of four attractions (Magic Skyway , Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and The Carousel of Progress) which were used by Disney to test concepts and ride systems, then moved and re-built at Disneyland after the World's Fair closed in 1966. The company was given only 11 months time to create and build the ride.

Mary Blair was responsible for the attraction's whimsical design and color styling. Blair had been an art director on several Disney animated features (including Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland, and Peter Pan). Like many Disneyland attractions, scenes and characters were designed by Marc Davis, while his wife, Alice Davis, designed the costumes for the dolls. Rolly Crump designed the toys and other supplemental figures on display. The animated dolls were designed and sculpted by Blaine Gibson. Walt was personally involved with Gibson's development of the dolls' facial design (each animated doll face is completely identical in shape, hence the name "it's a small world").

After the World's Fair ended, it's a small world was moved to Disneyland, where it remains one of the park's premiere attractions. It has also been a staple of Disney World since 1971. There have been some minor modifications, but for the most part it has remained that brightly colored attraction that people love and love to hate. Mary Blair's original concept for the ride was a vision in stark white and gold. The huge smiling clock face that adorns Disneyland's version is known to millions as the face of it's a small world. This is the classic look for this attraction.

Walt Disney World's version now has the classic "Mary Blair" look. The mechanics of the loading area has remained, for the most part, the same. Everything else about the loading area has been changed. There are recognizable silhouettes of world landmarks all done in different textures and white and highlighted in gold. We also now have our very own clock tower with the "seesawing" clock face. The ride itself has been brought back to its original splendor. They have new costumes, new wigs and new paint. If they originally sparkled, they sparkle again. The mechanics of the ride have also been updated. The click clacking noise often heard in the past is gone.. In addition, the soundtrack has been restored as well. The sound is crisp and clear. And the best part ?.all the visible wear and tear on the building itself, that has been so apparent?.has been fixed. It's like a brand new attraction.

Hidden Mickey

  • In the Africa scene, there's a Hidden Mickey in the purple flowers on a vine on the elephant's left side.
  • The paintings of the soldiers have Mickeys in them. Their eyes and nose make Mickey's head.
  • There is a Hidden Mickey etched clearly on the brass part of pole number 14 outside Small World. If the queue is not up, ask a Cast Member if you can see it.
  • About 2/3 of the way into the first room, there are 3 lights placed together in the ceiling that form a Hidden Mickey. It's the only spot in the attraction where there are 3 lights together like this.
  • In the last room, the South Pacific section - the blue and white room, there is a clown in a balloon with a "Help" sign, and his hair is arranged like ears.