Before going on my recent Orlando trip, I debated whether or not I would document it. The decision to not write about it won out, on some sound reasoning. I’ve already done it three times, with varying degrees of lengthiness and entertaining…uh, ness. That was my official reasoning, although I never got around to releasing the formal statement regarding it. Secretly (well, not any more) I just didn’t want to carry my camera with me.
I do, however, feel the need to mention something I haven’t really seen discussed in depth, much to my surprise. This would be the unspecified changes to “it’s a small world.” When I was last at Disney World, the ride was closed. I wept in privacy. I recovered fairly quickly, since the ride’s closing had been announced long before the trip, and wasn’t a last minute closure.
The refurbishment period was a rather lengthy one, and I wasn’t sure what was happening with it. All I knew was that the characters and sets were getting some new coats of paint, and other similar tweaks.
So, when the time came to finally go on the ride, the anticipation had reached a boiling point. And I obviously wasn’t the only one who felt this way, since the sign read “20 Minute Wait.” HUH? Twenty Minutes? On a ride that I can’t remember seeing anything but a zero minute wait, this was quite a shock. And from what I have heard, this wasn’t even terribly long for Small World 2K5. When it reopened, the ride had lines reaching the sixty minute mark. And to that I say: it’s about damn time.
It’s been around since 1964. It has arguably the most memorable song of any ride, ever; even Disney World’s official site dares you to try to shake it out of your head. And finally, the most important trait for rides of a non-thrill variety: it has the greatest polarity of any attraction’s love / hate reaction from its riders.
Disney has quite a few attractions like this, where they are clearly classics and deserve their place in amusement park history, but in modern times, they seem somewhat out of place. The reactions to these types of attractions such as it’s a small world, Carousel of Progress, or Hall of Presidents tend to provoke reactions at each end of the spectrum of love it or hate it. I like all of these attractions, occasionally for some of the attractions’ good qualities, but mostly because their bad qualities are so ironically entertaining. Carousel of Progress’s antiquated animatronics and old sitcom dialogue are what makes it so amazing. The Hall of Presidents’ over the top dramatics and tongue out of cheek narrative is perversely interesting. And, of course, it’s a small world’s annoyingly catchy music, outdated everything, and mildly racist themes make it one of the true classic rides in any amusement park. It doesn’t have to change anything for you; it will remain as stupid and ignorant as ever, and you will still love it. Well, you may not love it, but you will still ride it.
During the wait in line (officially the first time I have ever said that in regard to this ride,) I noticed some of the additions to the ride. They added a big clock, where the face tilts left and right incessantly. The face of the clock is similar to the one on the outside of it’s a small world in Disneyland. I don’t know how often it does it, but the clock opened triumphantly, revealing the current time.
One ride change is that it now loads two boats, where it used to only load one at a time. However, that’s pretty uninteresting.
During the ride, there didn’t seem to be any character changes, but the repainting of the characters and re-lighting of the ride definitely looked better. The characters look much more colorful, and the new lighting makes the scenery look better and more dynamic, rather than the uniform, drab lighting that used to make up the ride. That is way more in depth than I ever planned on describing it’s a small world.
The repaint and lighting work seemed to be the only changes to the ride scenery, until I got to the part near the end, with the dead children. I’m not sure if this is actually supposed to be a room filled with dead children or their ghosts or whatever, but it definitely isn’t any one country. It might be supposed to represent a world where all races and sexes live together in peace and harmony. But, since that is a ridiculous concept, I’ll assume it’s the world of dead children.
In this room came the only other change that I noticed, but it was a big one. Gone was one of the most interesting characters on the ride, one of the only characters that I actually remembered out of the hundreds of children with identical faces of various shades. I am referring, of course, to the “Help” clown.
This was the clown that I discussed in the first Orlando article. There was this inexplicable clown sitting in a hot air balloon with a sad expression, holding a sign that simply said HELP. Now, it is gone. I do not know why. It is possible that I missed it, but I was keeping an eye out for it the entire time, and knew it was in the dead children part, but no luck. Bah.
Finally, they removed the pictures that were next to the ride’s exit. These pictures were terribly faded and looked quite dated, but that was part of the it’s a small world charm. Dated and faded. Now the ride is just dated, with bright colors.
Other than that, there seemed to be no significant changes to the ride. If any Disney World employees still read this site, feel free to IM / e-mail me to let me know other changes that were made. Although I wouldn’t recommend doing that, because I will probably bother you with lots of questions about stupid park minutia, so think carefully before contacting me.