Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"We felt that we had accomplished what we set out to do..."


“When we completed 'it’s a small world' for presentation at the New York World’s Fair, we felt that we had accomplished what we’d set out to do. We wanted to foster a better understanding among the nations of the world by showing the dress, the customs, the language, the music, and a little of the culture of our neighbors around the world - - and we wanted to show it to be a very happy one. And I think it’s safe to say that having fun has universal appeal.”








From the dedication of "it's a small world" at Disneyland, May 28, 1966
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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think what is being added detracts from the mission of global awareness and most of all, FUN.

Small kids learning that "Cinderella" or "La Belle et la Bette" having it's origins in France or Alice being a traditionally English story is a good thing. It connects what they've seen to the cultures that created them. Disneyland Paris' Fantasyland blends character, story and cultural origin very well.

I'd guess that most small kids think Walt made those stories up.

Brian said...

>> I don't think what is being added detracts from the mission of global awareness and most of all, FUN. <<

Huh?

How do small kids learning that Cinderella's origins are in France add to global awareness? While they are playing "Find the Disney Character," have added to their count and are looking for the next one? Even if "Hunt the Character" isn't the objective of the changes, it is what will result...because it helps Disney's marketing efforts.

If these changes do come about - and there are many who still tout them as rumor - I would love to have the survey rights to people coming off the attraction...just to see how many children were globally enlightened by the addition of Stitch.

Why isn't children coming together, demonstrating their likenesses and their uniqueness, enough?

Merlin Jones, et. al - you guys are doing a great job - keep at it! I'm sure Walt and Mary are pleased with your efforts...

Spokker said...

"I'd guess that most small kids think Walt made those stories up."

Perhaps the ride will teach kids what 'public domain' means.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the trapped in the past living in 1964 crowd are still around. Small World needs something new. My kids don't want to go on it, and they are young.

theatreman said...

Learning more about Disney characters is very different from learning that all real people of different shades and nationalities share the earth equally and need to live in unity, peace and harmony.

Storybook characters are defined by their differences and by the dramatic conflicts which create their individual stories.

IASM was about common equal people whose differences are sublimated to their similarities.

Characters are what they are by virtue of their individuality.

This is a show about similarity, not about interesting and dramatic differences.

Learning that Cinderella is French is admirable, but it will not tell a child anything about world peace.

Tuckenie said...

"Perhaps the ride will teach kids what 'public domain' means."

Spokker, that was a good one.

Anonymous said...

>>How do small kids learning that Cinderella's origins are in France add to global awareness?<<

I'm not suggesting that one negates the other or that they are mutually exclusive. You cannot escape the message of the show and at the same time you may recognize how the Disney's heritage is truly international.

The surprising thing to me is that many posts assume that the majority of guests are going to play the "ISpy" game and somehow miss the whole rest of the show and its point. Of all the attractions to telegraph a story to death, IASM does. It's a one liner that screams its message. I also know from experience that you can't get guests to do much of anything that you design for them to do, or especially to notice. It's ridiculous that to think kids won't love seeing the Girl with the Geese, the Cleopatra, the Can Can girls, Flying Carpets, etc. It's not like they will ignore that. Once the initial announcements have died out, I think this whole character thing will be noticed (or seen as a scavenger hunt) by less than 20% of the guests.

The 1983 "New" Fantasyland (they ripped down all the metal tent facades and spent millions on new highly themed ones) went virtually unnoticed by guests who assumed it was "always that way" and the park lost market share that year. 30 something more dolls in a doll ride is far more subtle than that.

Anonymous said...

Brain wrote: "How do small kids learning that Cinderella's origins are in France add to global awareness?"

While I don't agree with these changes, keep in mind that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have appearances in the Spain section. While they are clearly better symbols of their nation's culture than the Disney group, this does blur the argument just a bit.

Unhappiest Place on Earth said...

I'd also like to add a couple of quotes made by Mr. Disney...Let's start with:

"Disneyland is the star. Everything else is in the supporting role." —Walt Disney
Wouldn't this apply to the attractions he personally oversaw, and what made the park what it is today?

And also this quote taken from a known Disney fansite...I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but I also cannot disprove it:
"Disneyland is not just another amusement park. It's unique, and I want it kept that way. Besides, you don't work for a dollar..you work to create and have fun." —Walt Disney
"Unique" not only by way of characters, but also by the created enviroments. As stated by many posters before...Not every character needs to be intertwined into the attractions that currently do not have a Disney famous character within it, including the pre POTC/Depp addition. For it was these rides that keep the masses/fans/families returning year after year. They most likely are not returning just because the park adds literally a couple of characters and call it a New ride experience. Not denying, that the park may experience a certain short term surge of "Curious Cats" and looky-loos, but this is an ill fated outlook to generate consisitency. Agreed, Disneyland parkgoers are looking for the "New" while enjoying the classics. However, most parkgoers are not looking for a "rebuilt" classic and having Disney Company calling it New. Repaint and maintaining the attractions is key for success, but I feel they may get carried away with false hopes and promises.
If Disney "adds" Disney characters, and I've read this soemwhere as well...What will stop these curious "plussings" from adding Eddie to Haunted Mansion, Jungle book characters to the Jungle Cruise and so on? Disneyland was built on a premise that once you crossed under the berm, youd be engulfed into another time or another world. With common ride "plussings" just to add known animated as well as living theatrical characters is driving the magic feel away from the park.
Are these really the right things to be doing to the attractions Walt actually had hand in creating and approving? It doesn't need to be a museum, but the rides also do not need to be refabricated or morphed into something unrighteous.

The Pooh ride would be a good start. Or how about the skyway launch deck in Fantasyland, located next to Thunder Ranch? Innoventions, Circlerama, Rocket Rods track etc. etc..There are still sources of underdeveloped real estate within the park to hold TRUE meaning to Walt's statement that Disneyland will never be completed.

"I do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things."-Walt Disney
And adding Disney animated characters to IASW attraction wouldn't be considered repetitive success?

Bottom line: The storyline of It's a Small World wasn't broke, but it may be after this remodel.

For those who question, compare the two different stories of Pirates of the Caribbean Pre-Depp, against the Post-Depp storyline. The ride just doesn't have that certain unexplainable feel anymore.

Dave Ensign said...

I'm stuck in '64 for sure.

Ya know what? I think they just demolish the whole damn attraction. That's right. Why ruin it for those of us who enjoy the unmatched quality of '64? Are Disney characters going to make it any more fun for kids now? Nope. So gut the show building and turn it into a two story mall! They could have shops catered to each Disney character, a high priced food court, AND a night time parade through the mall that you can only really see by purchasing special viewing glasses! $39.95 a pair! Hell for that matter, the mall is so cool that it costs an additional $49.95 on top of your one day Disneyland ticket! It worked for the still successful Aladdin dinner show, right?

Here's a cool quote straight from Walt:

"Eventually guests will grow tired of great attractions. Disneyland should always reach for the future and become the world's greatest mall. I see a day when they will shell out tons of cash and receive NOTHING. Well, maybe some sort of collectable pin. hmmm there's an idea." ---Walt Disney

Wow! With ideas like these I'm sure to be an imagineer in 2008!

Hekima said...

While I don't agree with these changes, keep in mind that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have appearances in the Spain section. While they are clearly better symbols of their nation's culture than the Disney group, this does blur the argument just a bit.

Plus, Disney has planned to make a movie based on Don Quixote off and on for a long time. In the unlikely event it ever does happen, well...Yeah, that's crossed my mind, too.

drew said...

Don Quixote is a Spanish character created by a Spanish writer from a prominent work of Spanish literature.

Cinderella is not necessarily French. The Disney version is simply based on the story told by French author Charles Perrault. A story entitled "Cinderella" also appears in Grimm's Fairy Tales, a collection of German fairy tales. Then is a very similar ancient Greek story, a Chinese story, and so on across the globe. The Cinderella story is not decidedly French.

There is a reason Disney did not play up the "stories of the world" angle for Hong Kong Disneyland. It just doesn't hold up. The Disney characters are not representatives of specific nations. The Disney Vault is not some sort of cinematic United Nations. They are, to all people of the world, ©Disney Characters.

Brian said...

>> The surprising thing to me is that many posts assume that the majority of guests are going to play the "ISpy" game and somehow miss the whole rest of the show and its point. <<

My understanding is that Hong Kong Disneyland is advertising it's version of Small World - which includes the Disney Characters that the Anaheim changes will be modeled on - as an opportunity to hunt for and find the characters...and implies that once you've found them in the attraction, you can buy the plush outside the exit. Couple that with the trend toward "interactivity" in Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story Mania...and I think the writing's on the wall.

It's interesting that there will be synergies to be gained in Anaheim by the Disney Company from the Hong Kong version. Including the bulk order of plush I'm sure...after all, wasn't Country Bears taken out and Pooh put in because Pooh sold more merchandise? Pressler and Harris are really only physically gone from the company - their 'spirit' lives on.

>> Of all the attractions to telegraph a story to death, IASM does. It's a one liner that screams its message. <<

If that's the case, it's interesting that there's so much debate about the changes - if people got the message, then it would be very clear that these changes are outside of that message. Now if that's OK, then I agree with Dave they should take down the attraction and just build something else. I'll remain stuck in 1964, thank you. But face it, Disney doesn't have the creative power right now to build another "E" ticket ride.

>> The 1983 "New" Fantasyland (they ripped down all the metal tent facades and spent millions on new highly themed ones) went virtually unnoticed by guests who assumed it was "always that way" and the park lost market share that year. <<

Did the building of New Fantasyland directly affect the market share? I think there were other factors involved. And this really isn't about market share - unless one's interest is only the bottom line - this is about integrity of creativity. And those who are driving these changes are showing there sincere lack of creativity.

Tuckenie said...

Whoever wrote the "unhappiest place on Earth" comment did a great job of laying out a great argument. Just wanted to give my compliments..

Anonymous said...

You can now see the former Disney Store characters in the Hong Kong Disneyland ride if you go to YouTube. Put in It's a Small World Hong Kong and you'll see several ride through videos of the attraction.

All I can say is it saddens me to see this coming into a reality.

Rick9719 said...

As to being "trapped in the past" I would love to see more changes and inovations in the Disney parks. But why change the artistic content of one of their most successful attractions ever? That's not broken. How about if we get the Western River Expedition installed first? When Disney opened Disney World they updated a number of their older attractions, e.g. the Snow White ride. They did that tastefully and everyone liked it. They didn't throw Hanna Montana into the middle of the Snow White ride.

Adam said...

I would humbly suggest one idea: boycott it's a small world. It wouldn't be that difficult; according to what Disney is telling us, no one is going to Small World as it is anyway. So when it's a small world reopens, don't go to it. Tell your friends not to go to small world. Have them tell their friends, etc. If no one goes to small world, all the money they spent "upgrading" the attraction would go up in smoke.

Tuckenie said...

Yes, because all the people "boycotting" the Tiki room at WDW has proven so effective in convincing Disney this isn't the right approach. Suits never blame themselves when something they did goes wrong. No you have to SHAME the company and do it NOW. A boycott will be too late and a ride under boycott rarely gets the money to fix the problem. Plus some changes are just too hard to reverse. Look up the Journey to Imagination refurb for a prime example.

Merlin Jones said...

Adam: Nobody wants to boycott the ride or dissuade the accountants from necessary physical maintenence or tech upgrades that support the original design and theme.

We just want to enjoy the orginal art and concept that Mary, Walt, Rolly, Marc, Alice and so many others created - - and think future generations should also get the privilege.

Also - - there is no sign of lagging numbers for the attraction.

This is about art.

Tony said...

This show, or attraction should be treated as if its on the national historic register. This attraction should be shown to today's generation as a historic lesson of peace, prosperity, and culture from a 1960's perspective. The ride itself is a United States treasure and should be treated as such no matter the creator.

Digital Jedi said...

Anonymous said:
>>>Ah, the trapped in the past living in 1964 crowd are still around. Small World needs something new. My kids don't want to go on it, and they are young.<<<


Ah, the obligatory Anonymous who tells us we're trapped in the past/we should grow up/Disney is not a museum. That never gets old.