“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 Song Heard ‘Round “it’s a small world”
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.”
Robert and Richard Sherman’s first version of the “it’s a small world” song was written as a ballad. Walt requested something more cheerful, so the song was sped up and sung as a round, or roundelay.
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.