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

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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…

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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Phoebe La Joie
Guest
Phoebe La Joie

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.

Jose Alcantar
Guest
Jose Alcantar

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… Read more »

Nick
Guest
Nick

“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.

RebeccaMcK
Guest
RebeccaMcK

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

Diana
Guest
Diana

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.

Nikki Greene
Guest
Nikki Greene

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.

Hilly
Guest
Hilly

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.

tvnutt
Guest
tvnutt

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.

Robert
Guest
Robert

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.

jasonbres
Guest
jasonbres

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.

Griffin
Guest
Griffin

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.

Chris
Guest
Chris

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.

Kari
Guest
Kari

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… Read more »

Dianna Shaw
Guest
Dianna Shaw

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

Griffin
Guest
Griffin

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.

Nick
Guest
Nick

They have just added a new doll in the Asia room like 2 weeks ago…

Chris
Guest
Chris

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… Read more »