Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blair Family Memories

We would like to speak from our point of view as Mary Blair's nieces.

We have been impressed and deeply touched by the eloquence and outpouring from the hearts of so many people who want to keep 'Small World' as it is. And now the Artists! Amazing. A HUGE thanks to all of you!

Our thoughts are the same. PLEASE keep the integrity of Small World--the children of all nations and its message of world peace. It is a completely unique experience, in and of itself.
Our intention is not a 'put down' to the imagineers, who have made Disneyland a fabulous, magical place for children and adults---something for everyone. 'Small World' however, doesn't need fixing. It isn't broken. Bring back it's original color and sparkle. Mary loved 'sparkle'. She also loved children.

We have enjoyed the 'special memories' that many have written about Small World. We have one also.
In 1978, several months before Mary died, my sister Maggie and I, along with my family, began planning a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party for our parents. Maggie and I met with Mary at a favorite restaurant of Mary's near her home in Soquel, California to discuss the plans. She introduced us to the hostess saying, 'these are my two nieces, whom I adore'. We adored her as well.

As part of the party plans, Lee put together a slide show, and we taped our parent's favorite 'old' songs, putting the music from 'It's A Small World' in several places. We did that to honor Mary, but also to make the party more fun. (And no, it didn't make us crazy.)

When the party was over and most guests had gone, Maggie and I were doing 'cleanup chores'. We looked up in time to see Mary, a lone figure in the middle of the dance floor. She had a gentle smile on her face, eyes closed, and was turning slowly around and around to the music from 'It's a Small World'. Two weeks later she was gone.

Again, our family appreciates very much your kind words and heartfelt feelings.

Our Best,
Jeanne Chamberlain & Maggie Richardson

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

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The World of Animation Speaks

“Mary Blair is one of the most remarkable artists of our time, and her work on "It's a Small World" one of her crowning achievements. The attraction is the result of many talented artists working at the peak of their creative powers. Restoration aside, I can't imagine improving on the original ride.”

Pete Docter
Director / Monsters Inc.

"I would be sad to see the integrity, unity and beauty of Mary Blair's inspired work of 'It's a Small World' be broken to accommodate imagery that does not fit into her vision. It would be like cutting scenes from, say, JUNO into TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Both great films, but they just don't fit together in tone or look and would harm the vision of both. Van Gogh into a Rembrandt? Unthinkable. 'It's a Small World' is a beautiful piece of our history - I hope and wish that it will be preserved and cherished as the work of art it is."

Brenda Chapman
Story Supervisor - Lion King / Director - Prince of Egypt

"The 'It's a Small World' attraction is a genuine piece of american art, created by a great american artist and to change it does a disservice to the artist and the fans who have been inspired by Mrs. Blair's work. In this culture of changing and updating everything to catch our shortening attention spans it is necessary to have a foundation that remains the same and stays constant for the positive growth of our culture. I did not grow up in California and visited Disneyland much later in my life. Going through the ride for the first time, it's charm transported me back to my childhood and made me feel nostalgic for what that wonder and innocence once was. I am saddened that my children might never have that experience."
Pete Sohn
Animator, Story Artist, Voice Actor (Emile -Ratatouille)

"Like many people, 'It's a Small World' holds a special place in my heart. It was the first attraction that my wife and I rode after I proposed to her, and its joyful message of worldwide harmony shone especially bright that day.

I've always been inspired by Mary Blair's color and design work - bold, playful and unique, yet firmly linked to the Disney style. I love to wait outside "It's a Small World"'s signature clock, waiting for the parade of happy figures from many lands. It's still one of the purest ways to experience her sensibilities.

I was surprised to hear recently that modifications being made to the ride would include its content. Because the idea of the ride is to introduce a vision of a world in peace and harmony, I believe uniquely American cartoon characters or displays - however appealing and beloved - would be disruptive to that vision.

I understand that Disneyland was never intended to stand still, that progress is as integral there as the childhood fantasies from which it sprang. But decades from now, I'd like to be able to travel through that same, small world where my wife and I began our lives together."
Jeff Pidgeon
Animator, Story Artist / Toy Story

"Preserving something, whether it's a film, a great painting or a great ride, like 'It's a Small World', assures that it can be enjoyed for generations the way it was originally intended to be enjoyed. Restoring a ride is one thing, changing its meaning is another. If I want to see Disney characters I can always go to Toontown, go see a parade or go on one of many other rides which feature them. Let the park patron make the choice. That's part of the fun of Disneyland. Would you impose the Country Bears upon the Indiana Jones ride? Or sneak Simba in on Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln? It would make as much sense."

Lou Romano
Production Designer / Incredibles, Voice actor / Linguini - Ratatouille

“With all the uncertainty in the world today, one of the few places a person could always escape both reality AND hype, no matter how brief, was It's A Small World at Disneyland. I consider myself lucky to have been able to experience it as it was truly meant to be seen--many times. Its plea to make the world a better place through the multinational voices of our future is something we need today more than ever. Lets hope better taste prevails and any hint of commercialism is avoided in the restoration of this truly great ride.”

Ralph Eggleston
Production Designer / Finding Nemo

“Most people who have sailed through the “It’s A Small World” attraction at Disneyland and The New York Worlds Fair over the past 44 years may not be aware that standing at a high vantage point proudly overlooking her creation, is one small, unobtrusive Animatronic figure representing none other than Mary Blair, herself. I can only imagine a small tear rolling down her tiny cheek at even the thought of changes to her original vision for this now beloved attraction. It is my thought that altering this classic ride, in any way, for any reason, would be akin to defacing any well known work of art hanging in any museum around the world. I would urge those proposing this change to the original Small World attraction to please pause and reconsider. Mary gave so much to Disney and it’s artists in so many ways, please leave this attraction as a monument to her work and her spirit. Thank you.”

Dave Pruiksma
Long time Supervising Animator - Disney Feature Animation

“Mary Blair's striking color, innovative design and strong sense of whimsy have marked her as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. It's a Small World is a monument to both her talent and the vision of Walt Disney. How bold to create an experience not dedicated to advertising a product, but to encouraging acceptance and appreciation of our different cultures.”
Mark Walsh
Supervising Animator - Ratatouille

"I'm totally pissed about (the Disney character additions to) 'Small World', but maybe I've grown to accept the gradual crapification of anything good about Disneyland by people who care only about cross linking everything they own so that they each advertise each other. This is just one more step closer to a Disneyland boiled down to a series of billboard advertisements with a merchandise shop as the wiener at the end."

Don Shank
Visual Development Artist / The Incredibles

"Ironically, the phrase 'Its a small world, after all' takes on a sad, dark meaning in context to today's corporate culture. It speaks directly to the character of those who run the show; that is to say, small, small people of small, small integrity, running the entire world. Changing the ride as they intend to do, with Disney characters dominating the world, perfectly represents everything for which the corporate world stands. It may very well be an unintended work of modern art! I say brilliant, guys!"

Steve Moore
Director, Animator, Editor-in-chief FLIP

"I am one who thinks that the refurbishment of 'Pirates Of The Caribbean" has ruined that ride. The old 'Pirates' transported riders to a completely unique world and a completely different time period. The addition of Jack Sparrow breaks that fantasy, and brings riders into the modern day. Putting cartoon characters in 'It's A Small World' will have the same effect. Really, how many Aladdin dolls will be sold by adding him to this ride? Is it worth wrecking the integrity of one of Disneyland's most charming attractions?"

Alan Smart
Director / Spongebob Squarepants

"I grew up in Flushing New York, and at age nine had the opportunity to witness 'It's A Small World' in its debut at the Pepsi Pavillion at the New York World's Fair. This ride was a major influence on my life - and is a part of all of our lives. It's theme is of universal understanding. The whole point is to show that we are all the same, no matter where we live. The addition of Disney licensed characters completely cheapens the experience and dilutes the message. I am wholly against this desecration of a Disney classic. "

Jerry Beck
Animation Historian / Editor Cartoon Brew

"Mary Blair's work on Small World is an artistic achievement of her unique sensibilities, a symphony of color, glitter, cellophane, and hope for the world's children. It should be maintained for future generations to enjoy, and not compromised by additions vainly trying to blend in.”

Wendell Luebbe
Art Director

"I'm utterly appalled that a corporation as thoughtful and considerate as The Walt Disney Company would actually consider welcoming those dirty little money-grubbing rats into the hallowed sanctuary that is 'It's A Small World.' Somebody's got to put their foot down before it's too late."

Craig Kellman
Character Designer / Madagascar

“How can a company who understands the concept of "theming" so well make the decision to add film characters to a ride originally designed to celebrate "Children of the World"? The simple design aesthetic is a perfect marriage to that theme as well. The additional characters incorporate multiple design aesthetics and would introduce a visual chaos to "It's a Small World". It would be far better to remove a ride than to compromise the design of that ride with poorly conceived additions. The Walt Disney Co. should respect its own business plan and design concepts or hand over the scepter to someone who does.”

Fred Cline
Designer and Storyboard Director

“Let's keep the original integrity of It's a Small World. It's refreshing to have rides that don't always pay homage to the Disney characters. It gives Disneyland greater breadth and richness.”
Tia Kratter
Art Director

“With much of today’s entertainment being driven by a pop-cultural grab bag esthetic, Walt Disney’s Small World has stood for over 40 years as a most refreshing oasis. Designer Mary Blair’s brilliant creative vision is felt in every crevice and corner of the attraction. To alter this vision by adding elements outside of Blair’s unique design sensibility would not only be a gross creative misstep but would also obscure the very spirit and message of the ride itself.”

Mike Giaimo
Art Director - Pocohantas

"Disney needs to take a preservationist approach to historic works of art emblematic of Walt's vision for Disneyland. Mary Blair's design of Small World is one of Disneyland's unique treasures and should be preserved in its' entirety."

Sue Kroyer

"Although we recognize the practical necessity of updating attractions to keep Disneyland commercially viable, IT'S A SMALL WORLD is a special circumstance for two reasons. First, it has a unique political and historical pedigree having been created for the New York World's Fair as a testament to worldwide harmony through children. Second, it genuinely represents a personal vision of one of the greatest Disney artists, Mary Blair. "

Bill Kroyer

"Walt Disney's works sought to reconnect us with the spirit of youth. Despite differences of culture and geography, we are all bonded by the laughter, clarity and simplicity of a child's point of view. This quality is not influenced by the whims and trends of a changing consumer society. It is a constant. It remains relevant. The unique talents of Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Rolly Crump and others gave form and feeling to Walt's dream of harmony for future generations. Their uncompromised vision should be preserved at Disneyland as a colorful legacy for our collective inner-child, both past and future."

Tim Hauser



As “It’s a Small World” moves slowly and inexorably towards becoming a showcase for Disney cartoon characters one question and one question alone needs to be asked of the Disney Company loudly, firmly and often by all those participating in the campaign to save Small World from homogenization.


Demand that the Walt Disney Company give a strong, solid unequivocal reason for adding Disney characters to ‘It’s a Small World’.

Tell the Disney Company that it’s foolish to think this addition will draw in more people. The attraction has never suffered for business. Despite being one of the highest capacity attractions in the park it almost always has a good sized line.

Tell the Disney Company that two years ago 'The Enchanted Tiki Room' underwent a massive and expensive restoration while retaining the same show that premiered in 1963. The crowds rushed back in line.

Tell the Disney Company that, despite your own personal opinion, you understand why many guests might have expected to see Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ as they associate the attraction with the movie but that this is a completely different issue.

Tell the Disney Company that the addition of Disney characters to ‘It’s a Small World’ will only upset core fans and generate indifference among most of the general public.

Tell the Disney Company that the Small World they know and love isn’t, as the Disney Company publicly proclaimed, in need of more 'relevance'.

Tell the Disney Company that adding Disney characters into ‘It’s a Small World’ appears to be yet another marketing ploy to sell more character merchandise and that the public will continue to assume as much until given a more sensible excuse.

Tell the Disney Company you want to know ‘WHY?’ Send an e-mail asking ‘WHY?’ Send a letter asking ‘WHY?’ Stop by City Hall at Disneyland and ask ‘WHY?

But good luck getting a reasonable answer.

You can parse the argument seven ways from Sunday but it still comes out the same; there is absolutely no good reason to add Disney characters to ‘It’s a Small World’.


Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar defends the addition of Disney characters to 'It's a Small World' as an effort to make the attraction 'more relevant' in an open letter posted here.