“it’s a small world” at Magic Kingdom Adding Disney Characters to the Attraction for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

Tom Corless

“it’s a small world” at Magic Kingdom Adding Disney Characters to the Attraction for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

Tom Corless

“it’s a small world” at Magic Kingdom Adding Disney Characters to the Attraction for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

With Walt Disney World closing in on its 50th anniversary in 2021, many classic Magic Kingdom attractions are set to go through some changes and refurbishments before the big celebration kicks off. The long-rumored addition of Disney film characters to “it’s a small world” will apparently come to fruition just ahead of the golden anniversary festivities, according to internal sources.

I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds a lot better than closing it for some Toy Story show…

Lilo and Stitch, Moana, Pua, and Hei Hei appear in the Polynesian scene in "it's a small world" at Tokyo Disneyland.
Lilo and Stitch, Moana, Pua, and Hei Hei appear in the Polynesian scene in “it’s a small world” at Tokyo Disneyland.

The finished product should be very similar to what we saw in “it’s a small world” at Tokyo Disneyland last year, adding about 40 Disney characters to the ride. While the entrance and exit of the two attractions are very different, the on-ride portion of the Tokyo and Orlando boart rides are strikingly similar. The video below should give you a good idea of what to expect for the Magic Kingdom version in the future:

The Tokyo Disneyland refurbishment also brought about beautiful bright lighting, an improved audio system, and a generally refreshed attraction. If you’ve been on the Magic Kingdom version recently, the dimly-lit, aging attraction certainly looks to be in need of that very same treatment. Let’s hope it is in the budget.

If all goes according to plan, “it’s a small world” will close for a few months starting sometime in 2020.

Baloo and Mowgli pose while Aladdin and Jasmine take a Magic Carpet ride on "it's a small world", Tokyo Disneyland
Baloo and Mowgli pose while Aladdin and Jasmine take a Magic Carpet ride on “it’s a small world”, Tokyo Disneyland
Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket appear in the Italy section of "it's a small world" at Tokyo Disneyland
Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket appear in the Italy section of “it’s a small world” at Tokyo Disneyland

Disney animated movie characters have been added to two of the existing “it’s a small world” attractions around the world, beginning with Disneyland Park in 2009 and Tokyo Disneyland in 2018. Hong Kong Disneyland’s version opened featuring characters in 2008.

Disney has yet to announce the changes for Walt Disney World, but may choose to do so at the upcoming D23 Expo in Anaheim. Only time will tell…

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19 thoughts on ““it’s a small world” at Magic Kingdom Adding Disney Characters to the Attraction for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary”

  1. Et tu? Seriously?!!!

    Would have been nice if there was one iteration that was the way it was supposed to be. But now 10 years after the original ride was forever tainted by IPs, Magic Kingdom is selling its Small World ride out too. They may not be tearing it out for a Toy Story show but they might as well. It all amounts to the same thing.

    • I feel it is necessary to add Disney charecters to it’s a small world, because they tie more into the theme of the land, that being, fantasy. Tell me, in its current form today, what is makes its a small world fit into the realm of fantasy besides children from aroundthe world tsinging about a world of unity in unison? I know adding Disney charecters isnt the BEST way to give its a small world that fantasy element its laking in, but it is really the only way I see them being able to do it without DRASTICALLY altering the ride.

    • “Forever tainted/selling out”, sounds like you’re a little too emotionally invested in It’s a Small World. Just an observation.
      It’s a Disney ride in a Disney theme park so they have every right to enhance the ride as they see fit. I say enhance because the ride itself is essentially the same and these newer characters are appearing in addition to, not to the exclusion of, all the other characters.

  2. I love Disneyland’s version, so I’ll look forward to MK’s changes. And make the ceiling darker, hopefully.

  3. I was worried that the characters would be too realistic but they retained that same doll-like quality. I’m in love. If we get the same treatment you’ll never get me off the ride.

  4. They’ve had Disney characters in the DL ride for years. It’s definitely one of the reasons why the DL version is so much better. Glad WDW is catching up.

  5. If they refurbish it like Tokyo Disneyland, then I think it will be just fine. They did a great job of adding the characters yet making sure they kept with the overall theming of the attraction.

  6. This is actually pretty cool! However, it would be nice to sprinkle in a few more North American dolls to Small World. It’s great to have Mexico but it would be nice to have more farmers/cowboys/natives instead of the just the 2 at the very end in the snow scene.

    • I think it’d be hard to feature natives without “offending” groups of people who think they know what upsets other groups of people, especially given the doll-like appearance of everyone. Who knows if that’s Disney’s rationale, but they had all the Asian countries depicted stereotypically too.

      I just hope the ride gets tech upgrades, especially the lighting. I HATE that one room at the end where the lights keep flashing. It always looks broken when I ride it.

  7. Uh, these wouldn’t be the same so-called “internal sources” who said that Country Bear would be replaced by a “Woody’s Roundup”-style attraction and that Tiki Room would be replaced by a “Moana” attraction, would they? Because if so, you need some better sources.

  8. Please add Zootopia to the rainforest. Because Disney did nothing for Zootopia since it’s release and the film grossing over a billion dollars at the box office. It’s not even getting a land at Animal Kingdom.
    So Disney needs to Add Zootopia somewhere on It’s a Small World.

  9. I’m confused. Militarize the wdwnt community against country bear jamboree, but support this? Keep the attraction clean, but leave it as-is. Nostalgia is a bigger attraction than the attraction itself; let us see how far we’ve come over the past 50+ years.

    • There’s a big difference between removing things and sensibly updating them. I’ve been on the Tokyo version and it’s really not bad. It’s all addition, it doesn’t replace any existing scenes.

  10. I love Disneyland’s version, and my little girls were thrilled to see some of their favorite princesses when we went on that ride during a visit to see my mom in California. Being passholders and lucky enough to drive to Disney World a few times a year, Small World is always a favorite of theirs! It is such a relaxing ride during the hot days and crowded days, and I know they’ll enjoy some new characters! Yay!! Now if only we could stop people from taking flash pictures on that ride! I politely asked the family behind us to stop flashing it in my newborn’s eyes and she about fought me! It was awful, but luckily the cast member saw some of what happened towards the end and let us ride again, but whew!

  11. Ah-Dory-Able!! What a great way to update without destroying the intent, and celebrate the way Disney characters and movies bring people together.

  12. You know this is actually pretty cool. Because since the very first time on have been on this ride on March 8, 2002 it always stayed the same. Now I think we’ll see some pretty good chances to it.

  13. Great article, I completely agree and hopefully the execs read the many comments supporting the classics. I’m glad I was able to bring my children to the Country Bear Jamboree once.
    Another Toy Story attraction which will be years away from opening doesn’t even make sense. They just released the final movie and in a few years it’s not going to be as relevant as it would be right now. The Toy Story franchise is a modern classic and will never be completely irrelevant, but the oversaturation is becoming overkill and the timing is off. It’s like how they spent billions to open the Avatar stuff. I know Flight of Passage is popular, but how irrelevant is Avatar? It was the highest box office movie at the time 10 years ago, but it’s not like it was Star Wars which millions of people live and breathe. It’s ridiculous they opened Pandora before Galaxy’s Edge.

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