Bring on Summer

Book now and get EXTRA savings on select tickets at SeaWorld® Parks!

Seaworld Orlando Bush Gardens GET MY TICKETS

The Secret History of Disney Rides: It's a Small World

by Tad on July 5, 2016 11 Orlando

The Secret History of Disney Rides: It's a Small World - Secret History of It's a Small World

Ready to get a song stuck in your head? I guarantee you'll be singing a certain one after this secret history of It's a Small World! This classic Disney ride could be considered a park icon. Did you know it originally debuted at the 1964 World's Fair before it made its way to Disneyland? During this secret history, we'll talk about this and other fun details of It's a Small World!

====>Hop here for It's a Small World wait times, ride details and more!<====

Beginning of It's a Small World

The Secret History of It's a Small World

WED Enterprises (now known as Disney Imagineers) created the boat ride for the 1964 New York's Wold Fair. The boat ride was then known as "Children of the World" and presented as a "salute" to UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund). It's a Small World celebrated the happy spirit of children all around the world. In fact, the boat ride is one of five Disney attraction used to test a variety of ride systems and concepts at the World's Fair before moving to a Disney park.

It's a Small World Dolls 2

Artist Mary Blair actually designed the magical, dazzling style of the iconic Disney ride; in fact, she was considered one of Walt Disney's favorite artists! You'll see more of Mary's work on Disney films such as "Peter Pan," "Cinderella" and "Alice in Wonderland." Marc Davis (you probably recognize his name from other secret history posts) helped with the designing of the scenes and characters, and his wife, Alice Davis, made the dolls' costumes! While we're talking about the ride's creation, it's also worth mentioning the hummable song "It's a Small World (After All)" was written by the Sherman Brothers. Of course, to get the international feel to match the cruise, the song was sung in studios all over the world!

Because of It's a Small World's success at the World's Fair, it was decided to bring the ride to Disneyland Park. According to, around 10 million ride tickets were sold during its season at the World's Fair! And since it was so popular and proved to be an efficient ride system, Disney decided to create even more boat rides with similar operating systems, Pirates of the Caribbean for one!

It's a Small World Boat

You can now travel to any Disney park in the world and find a version of It's a Small World. Watch our video of Magic Kingdom's version here! While the song gets repetitive, we always have to visit the boat ride each time we head to Disneyland or Magic Kingdom. It's a Disney tradition after all!

It's a Small World Fun Facts

It's a Small World Dolls 1

  • According to, there are at least 240 Audio Animatronics on each version of It's a Small World!
  • The centerpiece clock tower is 30-feet high! Each version of the boat ride features this clock and marks every quarter hour with a characters, animated props and music.
  • If you went on Magic Kingdom's version before 2004, you might remember a clown in a hot air balloon with a frown and sign stating, "Help." Via, he was changed to be seen carrying a balloon in his hand and smiling!
  • Every holiday season at Disneyland, It's a Small World has an overlay featuring decorations, costumes, soundtracks, props and effects celebrating the holidays. This tradition started on November 27, 1997!
  • Guess we aren't the only ones who have to visit the boat ride every time we venture to Disneyland! According to Guest Research, 1 in 4 Disneyland guests consider it a tradition to visit It's a Small World each Disney vacation.
  • Not surprising is that the song "It's a Small World (After All)" is the most-played and most-translated song in music history! It plays around 1,200 times during a 16-hour operating day at a Disney park.

Ending of It's a Small World

Well, I bet you are now gonna dream about this iconic boat ride and hum the song! When did you first experience It's a Small World? Let us know in the comments below! And don't forget to check out our wait times and more for It's a Small World.

Stay cool!

Keep hopping, Tad!
View Comments
<<  Newer Posts | Older Posts  >>
Oct 5, 2021 at 12:28 a.m. Darien DiMera Says...

This is the entrance to Tomorrowland

Sep 21, 2021 at 8:30 p.m. Nikki J Says...

I was 8 years old about to turn 9 when we went on the ride in Disney World. It was July 1994. We got stuck on the ride for 2 hours because it malfunctioned part way through the ride. I hate the song....

Sep 19, 2021 at 10:37 p.m. Alexa Says...

Can u do scary things about it’s a small world?

Oct 29, 2020 at 10:48 p.m. Steve Says...

seen first time in 1964 New York Worlds fair

Jul 3, 2020 at 6:25 p.m. Regina Says...

You know the meaning of the numbers on the Clock tower?

Dec 4, 2019 at 6:25 p.m. john Says...

I was a small child at the 1964 Worlds Fair, it's a small world was really cool. whenever I go to Disney Florida or LA, I always go to it's a small world and the Wheel of Progress

Feb 23, 2019 at 3:27 p.m. natasha anne lux Says...

I am trying to find confirmation with regards to what my daughter remembers as a child on her first ride on the Small World Attraction. She insists that at the very beginning of the ride, you are welcomed by a small snail. And at the end of the ride, he is there again, saying goodbye. Can anyone verify this for me? Thank you.

Feb 11, 2019 at 4:32 p.m. DaddyB of old Says...

When you look at the exterior facade of the "Small World building you might notice the dozens of golden doo-dads at the top of every spire of thbuilding. ALL of these little curios are copies o the little charms on Alice Davis' Charm bracelet! (each one having ben given to her by her husband, WED Imagineer (and Disney legend) Marc Davis.I had the opportunity to ask Ms.Davis about this once, and she confirmed this to be true!

Jul 27, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. Heather Says...

Other fun fact that usually blows people away: the ride is simply stuffed with cultural earth & earth goddess symbols. It's teeming with Fleur-de-lis (ancient birth mother/Mother Mary symbol), 5-petaled flowers (pentacles), diamonds (yonis), almonds (vesica piscis), ankhs, and other birth goddess imagery. Not too surprising since the Earth is our Mother, after all.

...which means that Mary Blair, Marc Davis, and Walt Disney were very aware of the meanings behind these symbols when they designed IASW.

Nov 3, 2016 at 10:51 p.m. Carlos medina Says...

I like it's a small world because they had singing dolls and they sing a song it's a small world song

Dec 4, 2016 at 10:17 p.m. Thomas shaver Says...

I have been seeing.or boating in its a small world for over 60 years. I fact I married the first employed Snow White

Leave a comment
Name is required. Email is required. Please input a comment.
About Us
About Undercover Tourist

Undercover Tourist is the leading supplier of online discount tickets to Orlando, Florida-area attractions, including Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort™, SeaWorld® Orlando, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and more.

Sign up for our newsletter!
Please enter your Name
Please enter your Email address
Back to top