‘it’s a small world’ Boats Turning Black, Highlights Sad State of Maintenance at Walt Disney World

As maintenance issues continue to compound across Walt Disney World, it seems even standards of cleanliness have been tossed to the side for things that don’t absolutely require it by law. Just today, a visit to the Magic Kingdom revealed what may be one of the most disgusting sights we’ve ever seen at the parks — the boats of “it’s a small world” are absolutely filthy and turning black.

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The yellow boats in particular highlight the issue. Black grime runs along the entire side.

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The pattern extends well above the water line of the boat, beyond where contaminants from the water could sink in. These are just plain filthy and disgusting, looking similar to abandoned cars in a post-apocalyptic wasteland rather than a happy boat ride through the countries of the world.

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It seems unlikely that the boats have been hosed down and scrubbed for months. The gunk runs along the entire side of the boat, even up to the top where guests might rest their arms as they ride. It gets worse towards the center of the boats, where the water won’t always lap up to rinse it off. Perhaps even the water within the attraction is not as clean as it ought to be.

The rest of the ride is in about as rough of a shape. Lights are burnt out or malfunctioning, and many figures are not moving or missing entirely.

As Walt Disney World seems to have ended its transition period out of the COVID-19 pandemic and returned to normal operations, we will be resuming our Maintenance Reports in January 2023, which we put on hiatus while the resort focused on the pandemic.

How do you feel seeing the boats of “it’s a small world” in such a disgusting state? Let us know in the comments below!

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57 thoughts on “‘it’s a small world’ Boats Turning Black, Highlights Sad State of Maintenance at Walt Disney World”

  1. I agree it’s really ugly and gross. That being said, in the late 1990’s (possibly early 00’s), the interior of the Splash Mountain ride vehicles had active black mildew in it and all over the padded piece in front of the passenger. When I got off the ride, my hands smelled like a dirty old sponge. I was so grossed out by it that I didn’t ride it again until the 2010’s after I looked at the vehicles after they came down the falls. They looked clean but when I rode it, the start of mildew was showing again. A friend of mine woh is very sensitive to germs rode it a couple years ago and said it was clean but I don’t think I’ll ever ride it again.

    Long story short, I think Disney Parks is trying to recoup money they lost from the lockdowns and anything other than essential cleaning is probably not being done. There’s also the possibility of supply chain issues that haven’t been resolved yet in terms of specialty cleaning supplies.

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    • I completely agree that’s disgusting. In the Florida heat and humidity water rides would be more prone than usual to these kinds of issues. Chapek definitely didn’t care about anything but profits so maintenance was clearly cut as shown by the upped number of accidents. Hopefully it is on Iger’s list to restore the Magic. To me it seems utterly unrealistic for any company dependent on in person attendees to expect to recoup with two years.

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  2. In my opinion, this looks to be the rubber rub marks from the bumpers around the ride and/or at the loading areas. This would be impossible to rinse off during the ride and would require some cleaning solution and manual labor. I agree that the dolls and moving parts in the show portion of the ride are in disrepair.

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      • Disney has lost its way and is not paying attention to the details that made Disney a wonderful safe environment for families. They started getting involved in subjects that have little to nothing to do with making your customers happy, feeling like they are getting good value for their money.
        Once you lose customers it is very hard to get them back . Let’s wait and see what happens now that we have a new leader.

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  3. Looks just like the walls in the Polynesian resort rooms when we stayed in the Rapa Nui building years ago. I believe the black on the wall was mold . Kind of nasty especially when paying $400+ per night.

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  4. It is a shame. No excuse. CODVI has been over for over a year. Maintenance should be top priority at the Parks. This new generation of management doesn’t understand Walt’s philosophy.

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  5. Boats are just one of Disney ‘s cleanliness failures.Ladies restrooms are a total mess.As well as being dirty they are in need of repair
    And proper maintenance .At one time we bragged about how clean the bathrooms and all the parks were just pristine condition.Alas
    No more!!

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    • I went to Disney World in October. I was extremely disappointed. It was nothing like I remember. Disney was once so pristine and clean The Carousel of Progress is filthy. Ceiling tiles are dirty. The wood around the stage is falling off. It takes away from the nostalgia and no longer feels like the greatest place on earth.

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  6. This is nothing new. Last time I was on It’s a Small World, the water actually stank. Between the smell and the broken/missing characters, ride was pretty unbearable. Disney has not done proper maintenance in quite some time so this article about the grime one the boats should come as no surprise.

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  7. So glad maintenance reports are coming back I love reading them and it’s a good way to hold them accountable. Plus we might get a tail or two back!

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  8. I just visited yesterday and surveyed alot of scrap and trash laying about. Most notable was in the boat line waiting to be unloaded with varying pieces of trash and scrap wood particles scattered on the access walkway. It’s just not the way this place should and used be kept.

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    • I agree sadly. I remember my dad telling me that they spent every night cleaning up
      Everything that was broken. I also think that a lot of lifetime employees who were there for so long, that were there when the appearance and standards seemed to be a focal point aren’t there anymore. It seems more like a job to many but before it seemed like such a privilege to be a cast member

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  9. If helps save Disney money so they can give more executives bigger bonuses I’m all for. If it makes idiots who still think Disney is a good vacation idea realize they’re stupid, I kind don’t care.

    -Bob Iger and Bob Chapek (BFFL)

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  10. This seems like a bit of a dramatic take on this issue. Are they a a little dingy? Yes. Could they stand a cleaning? Also yes. The majority of the scuff marks look like they’re right at the height of the bumpers that slide along the sides of the boat as you load in and out at the dock. The holiday season is always hard on the park staff and more guests than usual are going through those rides every single day. Sure it’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but I’d rather the maintenance team prioritize safety issues over cosmetic ones like this. I’m sure it’ll get cleaned sometime soon, it’s probably just the last thing they they’re worrying about

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  11. Agreed. The dirty build up is all over WDW IASW at the waterline. Very ugly and distracting. But not isolated. Trash, cobwebs and grime is at an all time high all over WDW. So very sad to witness this entire last week.

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  12. We just visited WDW the week of December 11th and rode Its a Small World and what a sight! The carpets on the displays where the dolls stand are all ripped up. The ride looks terrible and Disney should be ashamed as they charge such high rates to get into the parks and the rides are not kept well.

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  13. Walt wanted every day to look like the parks just opened and they used too. You wouldn’t even see a paint chip or anything like that. It’s all about making money now. He would be so disgusted to see them now.

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  14. Though it’s a small world is most definitely not one of my favorite rides, I do agree that it does look disgusting. Perhaps it’s time that they shut that ride down and give it a long overdue refurbishment. As far as trash being on the ground, I don’t blame Disney for that, I think the fault lies with the guests. I’m not talking about people who accidentally drop their trash, I’m talking about the ones who seem to have the idea that they’re not at home so they shouldn’t have to pick up after themselves.

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  15. It just another of a multitude of proofs of the extremely incompetent management at the very top of Disney. And they’re Wicked too. Just look at the garbage they’re producing now in order to try to indoctrinate our kids into gross perversion. Surely they are of the kind that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of when He said ” whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for him if he had had a millstone tied around his neck can he be thrown into the depths of the sea.”

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  16. This is from the rubber bumpers that keep the boats off the walls. It’s very difficult to clean, and would more likely involve repainting the boats entirely. I’m sure it’s on their list, but I think a major refurb of the ride is more likely.

    I’d be more conserned about ride mechanics than I am about rubber scuffs on the boats from hitting the same rubber bumpers 1000+ times a day, every day.

    Reply
  17. I am upset that visitors are littering. While the expectation is that Disney will be clean, with trash cans every five feet, the responsibility it on every visitor to put their trash in a garbage or recycling can. Help keep Disney beautiful by picking up any wayward trash seen and toss it in a garbage can. Others will see and may follow suit.

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  18. Last time I tried to ride, I had to leave. The whole area smelled like stagnant water and mold. Have seen the problems. The bathrooms had no working soap dispensers or paper towels.
    Although, guests can be part of the problem-dropping trash in water rides and not putting trash in receptacles.

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  19. I have to agree that maintenance at the parks seems to be at an all time low… Several features on the Winnie the Pooh ride were not working and the trash all over the floor in the Buzz Lightyear ride was depressing.

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  20. Honestly I think some of the problems Disney has with disrepair comes back to the employees. They do not have the pride in their job as previous generations. The times I’ve been to the park in the past few years the cast members are nothing like they used to be, not as friendly or helpful. I agree they need a raise in pay though, it’s really one of the lowest paying jobs in Orlando.

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  21. It’s saddening to see how much maintenance the parks and rides need. I understand supply chain issues and short staffing have been a nationwide issue, but if they really are out of pandemic status entirely they should refocus some attention to maintenance. Here’s hoping now that someone with Disney’s best interests in mind is back at the helm, things will actually improve!

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  22. Our trip in September proved disappointing with the lack of magic. Trash all over, dead bushes and flowers, general lack of care all over. Truly shows the higher ups don’t care. Walt is rolling over in his grave. Not what he envisioned for his parks.

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  23. Last time I rode Donald’s grand fiesta tour, the water smelled horrible and the ride vehicles were as dirty as those in Its a small world. Should give that ride a refurb and update too. Great to have the maintenance reports back. 😊

    Reply
  24. As a former Disney Employee I find that they have given themselves a large bar to live up to. I worked there in the early 80’s when EPCOT opened. Cleanliness was a pride of the company, when I went back 20 years later I noticed peeling paint and lots of dirt and mold. The parks are large but if they put in the effort they can get them cleaned up again. I loved working for Disney and proud to say I am a former employee, I would hope that those that follow would maintain pride in their work space

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  25. Looking at the pics in your article leave me speechless. It’s a Small World is timeless, one of my family favorite rides. Maybe with the “Bob” swap, things will hopefully get better across the board.

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  26. Coincidental that all these degradation and disrepair occurred after the retirement of baby boomers. You on your own now X, Millennials, and Z. Good luck keeping this afloat.

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  27. While I have since been to Disney in 2022, I am sorry but this was a problem BEFORE the pandemic. I was an annual passholder and was at Disney March 2020 (seems like a lifetime ago!) right before the closing. I was literally shocked to see bathrooms and eating areas litered with garbage at Magic Kingdom and wrote to let them know how I actually felt embarassed by the condition that the park was in saying in part that if Walt was alive, he would be appalled. There are dozens of ‘parks’ to go to if you want rides but Disney has always been about the experience and the fact you could go somewhere and ‘checkout’ from the outside. Wake up Disney – people don’t pay $130 per ticket for rides. And while you may not experience an immediate decline in 2023, you will, because those of us who are no longer annual passholder will not only not be visting as often, but because our last visit lacked the ‘Disney experience’ are not in any hurry to plan a return.

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  28. They still have broken animatronics on that ride that haven’t been fixed in at least 15yrs! The poor maintenance of rides, cleaning of restrooms and trash in the common paths are just the most visible signs of the lack of actual managing going on at what’s supposed to be the immaculate Cadillac of theme park and entertainment companies…The prices go up, the quality goes down? Bad math Disney!

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  29. I’m just totally done with all things Disney. They had a good run going and then they hired a new CEO and the parks went south. Enough for me!

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  30. I used to go to Disney several times a year in tge early 2000’s and many times prior to in the 70′,80’s,90’s. I have to say the park is showing signs all over of being run down, trash all over, overloaded trash bins, restrooms not kept , which they used to be pristine, rides dirty and looking worn and paint worn. Definitely not up to “Disney” standard that I have always known and loved. Such a shame of what it has become. There really is no excuse, they have tge employees, the standards are in place, it’s no being managed properly from the hotels to the parks.

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  31. I believe they added the 5th “pillar” to distract from their failure at the other four. Cleanliness and ride maintenance are what set Disney apart. Someone died on Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland due to lack of maintenance on the ride. Let’s hope that sort of thing doesn’t happen due to penny pinching.

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  32. I’m sure all the animated figures are properly “woke” however.
    Why should Disney clean anything? They are charging more and giving you less and still you flock there and lay out whatever dollars they require of you. I mean really, they have you paying for rides you already paid for and yet you do it!!! I mean come on already, $25 to walk in from the parking lot? Dumped my pass years ago. When Disney wakes up I may be back. Until then, not a chance

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  33. Oh my word….we have come from England and find the total opposite…every where is immaculate. We have seen maintenance painting every day insurance hotel…and its only touching up..we are at All Sports…rest rooms in any park are always clean…there are MINOR things not working in Its a small world…literally one model and one duck not moving….please don’t ever come to England..you’ll be shocked…we think WDW is stunning..all parks…all cleaning….all cast members!

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    • This comment is incredibly inaccurate, sorry. The ride looks awful. The lighting is dark and dreary, there’s several figures missing or not working. Also, that’s not regularly scheduled maintenance happening at your hotel, that is the continuing, delayed remodeling project they could have finished while the hotel was closed. I’m sorry, I have to put things in perspective, I’m not trying to diminish your feelings, but the comment is full of misleading information.

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  34. It’s the same at Disneyland in Anaheim. We were just there and Small World was in awful shape! It looked like a run down parking lot carnie ride, but a little dirtier. People still line up midday for over an hour to ride it.

    They’ve also Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story and Star Tours get trashy as well.

    Our keys expire in January and we are done for a while. It’s a shame because Disneyland used to me such a magical place, but it’s definitely lost it’s luster!

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  35. While I agree that this is an eyesore for guests… This is not mold or scum lines… This is black rubber rubbing off onto the vessels…. Think about it why would the water line be different for buoyant plastic boats…. To achieve water lines you have to have a vessel or structure soaking in the water for a extended amount of time and then have it exposed to see the damage…. Unless of course you have mega fat tourists sitting on the ride for days on end and then getting up.
    In my honest opinion they need to have a large collection of spare vessels that get rotated in and the other ones get taken out regularly to be buffed not just cleaned because this is rubber damage not mold!!

    Reply

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