Monday, April 7, 2008

The truth about the changes to "it's a small world"

The real story behind the goofy change coming to Disneyland's classic and beloved "it's a small world" attraction is beginning to leak out. The changes being made this year are the sad remnants of a greater plan to massively update the attraction with new audio-animatronic style dolls, updated scenery, and a greater variety of nationalities and cultures represented in a new prayer for world unity and peace from all the world's children.

That was the plan discussed eight years ago. But somewhere over the years the original plan fell by the side and when money left in the budget to update "it's a small world" was about to be lost, forces sprung into action to do something, anything, to make a change. What is coming now is a version of plans that were made for Hong Kong Disneyland, not exactly the same, but close enough.

Disney never makes one of something when they can get two for near the same price. But how to use that second doll? Why not do something at Disneyland. Sad but true, that's the exact thought behind part of this change.

So when the new plans were leaked the press smelled a scandal this caused some people to get cold feet. WDI Ambassador and tried and true corporate spokesman Marty Sklar was asked to step in and save the day. His letter was as much desperation as it was spin. Disney was getting bad press in more than just the online fan groups, something had to be done, and the fans were the perfect scapegoats.

But as it turns out, Marty Sklar was being less than truthful in his open letter to Disney fans. When he said there would be no "Up with America" scene and that the rainforest remains, that wasn't exactly the truth. The rainforest has indeed been bulldozed to make way for a new room honoring America. The rest of the nations of the world have to share rooms with other countries on their continents, but the USA gets its own room. That prominent placement is "Up with America" enough. But to devastate the rainforest for the change is an unseemly metaphor.

The rainforest has been downsized and moved to another area of the attraction to make way for athe US of A. And when Marty said that Mickey Mouse won't be added to the attraction, that didn't mean that other Disney characters, non-humans like Mickey and Minnie, wouldn't be added. What do non-children characters have to do with the theme? No one has yet said.

How to explain those little lies? They can't, so you'll just have to trust them that they know what's best.

Oh Disney fans, you have been snookered. While you weren't looking Disney has ripped out the heart and soul of one of Walt's most memorable and meaningful attractions. There is no more world unity, there is America and we're more important than y'all. The rainforest has been harvested and Wal-Mart put in its place. There is no more children's prayer for peace and world unity, there is Disney merchandise opportunities with a famous Disney character in nearly every scene. There is no more small world, just a faceless soulless corporation out to get every last buck from their 'guests' with no care for its legacy.

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Rich Koster said...

Sure sounds like it's a small world -- Under New Management!

...And we all know how unsuccessful Imagineering's makeover of WDW's Enchanted Tiki Room has been.

Anonymous said...

You've got it exactly right, from what I've gathered from the message boards including reports from insiders that have seen what's happening behind the walls, they are making the changes just as you've described them. Poor Marty, his letter on Friday didn't convince anyone, and if you parse the language, our worst fears are coming true.
They're changing the spirit of the attraction, and the music, when all it really needed was an infrastructure upgrade.

theatreman said...

It is really disappointing that the essential message of this attraction might be discarded to make way for an empty cavalcade of Disney Characters, backed up by a insignificant array of dolls and toys.

Michael Eisner badly miscalculated in is attempt to create DISNEYS' AMERICA in Virginis.

Bob Iger may have to throw in the towel on this meritless concept which has received almost universal scorn from professional artists, theme park designers and the public at large, as reflected in hundreds of emails across a number of websites.

Basically, the proposed changes are a copy of the "new classic" Hong Kong Disneyland IASM, opening April 28 with 28 Disney characters, against the backdrop of the hapless dolls.

The HKDL website advises visitors to look sharp, so as to concentrate on and identify the Characters.

beachpup said...

I think it's a terrific idea. From the pics I've seen the new characters will fit in seemlessly and be integrated perfectly. It will make the ride exciting and even more fun.

Spokker said...

The above comment is a paid Disney plant if I ever saw one. I would be really surprised if it wasn't.

This is an old post about small world but it's still as relevant as ever. It's sad that there actually was a plan to upgrade the ride in a meaningful way. I would have loved to see a greater variety of nationalities and cultures.