For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a weird relationship with “it’s a small world” (lowercase in quotes is how Disney writes the attraction’s name).
At some point I decided that I didn’t like the attraction, and I’m honestly not sure what triggered this. Maybe it was just the fact that I was a teenage boy (you know how they get) but somewhere along the line I decided that the happily singing dolls were creepy, that the song was obnoxious, and that the entire ride was just too upbeat and chipper for my tastes.
Of course, most of Magic Kingdom is upbeat and chipper. I’ve never had an issue with similarly happy rides like The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh or The Enchanted Tiki Room. But “it’s a small world” was the focus of a particular form of animosity on my part, and by “a particular form” I mean that I still rode it whenever I went to Walt Disney World but I made a big and generally vocal deal about how horrible of an experience it was for me. I’d grumble and groan and make jokes about it but really I don’t think anybody took me seriously– up to and including myself. It was just the idea of hating the ride without any actual hatred involved, and in reality that never stopped me from actually riding. It became something of a running joke with my family, to the point that my daughter once secretly changed my cellphone’s ringtone to the “it’s a small world” song just to mess with me.
When my wife and I got together and we first started talking about going to Walt Disney World, I had to state how much I didn’t like “it’s a small world”– at this point it had become my thing. She hadn’t been to the Magic Kingdom since she was a kid, but she did have vague memories of “it’s a small world” being one of her favorite rides. Naturally we went on it when we went together, but of course I said that it was entirely for her benefit.
Here’s my dirty secret revealed, though: I don’t hate that ride, and I don’t think I ever did. It’s fun and cute and sweet and all the things that teenage me liked to say were terrible, but I’m admitting here and now that I actually enjoy riding “it’s a small world”. It’s one of the original Magic Kingdom attractions and it’s an integral part of Walt Disney World history plus, let’s be honest, given the state of the world there’s something nice about the message that the attraction puts forth.
Now that we’ve gotten that revelation out of the way, here’s a tale about when one time riding “it’s a small world” turned out to be unintentionally hilarious.
One row behind us sat a woman with a young daughter, and as our boat came around the first curve with the Eiffel Tower and the line of can-can dancers she exclaimed “Look, there’s Spain!”
This made my wife and me look at each other and giggle a bit. Spain does appear in the ride, though a little further along. Maybe she was looking ahead, but it really seemed like she was referencing the Eiffel Tower scene.
Somewhere around the blonde boy in lederhosen and clogs, she pointed out “Poland” to her child. Later she corrected herself, stating that a different part was in fact Poland. I’m pretty sure there was at least one more area that she identified as Poland throughout our journey. I should point out that after the ride we checked, and Poland is in no way represented in the attraction. Plus, we’re not entirely sure what would be indicative of Poland if there were.
Towards the end of the ride she pointed out the Aborigine child holding a boomerang, standing next to a kangaroo, and said it was from Africa. By this point we were having more fun listening to which country she would mis-identify next than anything else. Also, I wonder if she did the same thing in EPCOT’s World Showcase?
So there it is. My admission of not hating, and even enjoying, “it’s a small world” as well as a bizarre little misadventure.
Oh, and one more thing. There is just one moon and one golden sun, and a smile means friendship to everyone.
It’s been stuck in my head while writing this, and I had to share the… joy. You’re welcome.