The original intent of this attraction was clearly to suggest the core similarity of many peoples inhabiting a single planet. The evident implication is that we should be able to share the world in equality and peace.
Walt Disney chose children as a metaphor of humanity and innocence, and as a symbol of hope. Having discarded several unsatisfactory designs, he finally chose Mary Blair’s innocently simple dolls with distinct ethnic differences, but inescapable overriding similarities.
He presented these "children" in a panorama of colorful landscapes, and then united them in a spectacular all-white carnival of peace. And yes, in that more innocent age of America in which the ride was conceived, perhaps the admixture of cultures in the finale did subtly suggest America the "Melting Pot" at its happiest harmonious potential. The figures, unique to this one attraction, have sustained it for 43 years.
The "improvement" vulgarizes the theme and essence of what has given this ride its irresistible appeal for millions and millions of people.
The introduction of the joyously irascible Donald, the mischievous Stitch, the regal Simba and other Disney characters with their distinct attributes and back-stories destroys the unifying and equalizing anonymity of the original Small World population.
They introduce a perverse divisiveness diametrically opposed to the original import of the attraction. Once a select group of special privileged inhabitants of the World are distinctly identifiable Disney Stars, the remainder are necessarily relegated to the status of homogenous background bit players.
The audience, too, becomes divided into the "haves" who have seen the films and focus on identifying the stars while neglecting the supporting players, while the "have nots" are left out of the game: the very antithesis of the attraction's original thrust.
Moreover, Stitch, of course, is not a peaceful citizen of planet earth, but a blue alien, described by the Internet Movie Database as a “notorious extra-terrestrial fugitive from the law.”
Simba is an animal who fought off a relative in in order to claim his throne, in a kingdom clearly ruled by force rather than civil discourse; hardly an exemplary citizen for a human world at peace.
DIMINUTION OF CHARACTER
The Disney characters are, of course, one of the Company’s chief assets. But they are suffering homogenization, as the Grimm Brothers’ royals cavort with Minnie, Ariel and Jasmine in the Tween Spa Make-over Afternoons. Their insertion into A Small World is one more inappropriate and exploitive over-exposure.
HOMOGENIZATION OF THE PARK
Once the familiar “stars” invade Small World, the attraction loses its individuality. Guests are no longer transported into a unique festival of humanity, but find themselves in a continuation of the Fantasyland milieu of cartoon characters. The ride forfeits its distinct ambience and the park loses a singular different environment.
The ride as originally conceived gives both children and adults a thrilling vision of the possibility of an innocent and unified world at peace, and this theme is clearly confirmed in the farewell salute of "Pax" in many languages. Beneath the pretty gaiety of the attraction is a stirring, serious and inspiring metaphor and message of hope for a troubled globe. Once the ride is reduced to one more panorama of the much-exposed Disney stock company - now with a supporting cast of singing dolls in an incompatible design style - any unique, innocent and important concern is compromised by intrusive celebrity and imposed familiarity.
May cooler heads prevail.