Richard M. Sherman, who wrote the melody for "It's a Small World," conducted a sing-along of the song by Disneyland guests today as part of the global celebration of the 50th anniversary of the attraction's opening.
The "it's a small world" attraction stems from a 1963 request to Walt Disney to create an exhibit for the 1964 New York World's Fair saluting UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, and children around the world.
With Disney's blessing, Marc Davis, one of the original Disney animators, designed the boat ride attraction through the regions and nations of the world. More than 10 million visitors to the fair rode on the ride.
Disney asked Sherman and his late brother, Robert B. Sherman, to create a simple, yet catchy song about universal harmony that could be sung in many different languages while guests traveled by boat through the attraction.
On the attraction, hundreds of colorfully dressed audio-animatronic dolls representing children from many regions of the world "sing" "It's a Small World" in five languages -- English, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish.
Following the fair's closure in 1965, "it's a small world" was shipped to Disneyland and expanded by about one-third. It opened on May 28, 1966, dedicated by Walt Disney, less than seven months before his death.
The anniversary was marked today at all five Disney resorts -- Disneyland, Walt Disney World Resort, the Tokyo Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris and the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort -- along with Times Square in New York City and the Unisphere, the theme symbol of the 1964 New York World's Fair, at the fair's site, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
A website marking the anniversary, SmallWorld50.com, has been created, where visitors can record videos of themselves singing the song and create virtual "it's a small world" dolls to benefit UNICEF.
The Walt Disney Co. announced last month that, in honor of the 50th anniversary of "it's a small world," it would donate $150,000 to UNICEF, which provides health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more to children around the world, plus $1 for every sing-along video recorded and another $1 for every virtual doll created on the website, up to $100,000.
"Every moment of every day there are Disney guests enjoying 'it's a small world' somewhere around the globe," said Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
"The 50th anniversary of this attraction represents a celebration of the shared optimism, hope and humanity of people throughout the world."
--City News Service