Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

It's a Small World opens at Disneyland

It’s a Small World opens at Disneyland

May 30, 1966: Walt Disney pours water from canteen into a channel through new Disneyland attraction, “It’s a Small World.” With Disney at opening are Louis B. Lundborg, Bank of America board chairman, and children representing many nations.

Staff writer Ray Rogers reported in the May 31, 1966, Los Angeles Times:

Walt Disney joined Bank of America officials Monday in opening the newest attraction at Disneyland–a musical journal by boats through enchanted foreign lands where animated dolls perform.

“It’s a Small World” is the theme of the international voyage which is based on audio-animatronics, the Disney technique of making three-dimensional figures seem alive. It was first used in the Abraham Lincoln exhibit at the Anaheim park.

Cackling fireworks and the release of 10,000 balloons and a flock of white doves heralded the opening of the new feature that becomes a part of Fantasyland. The Bank of America is its sponsor.

Louis B. Lundborg, the bank’s board chairman, explained that the 12-minute journey through Small World takes place over “Seven SeaWays,” a channel that flows through nine major regions.

Disney and Lundborg sat in the first boatload of children to complete the journey. Scores of child-like dolls in various native costumes danced, waved and performed along the route.

Water from major oceans was flown to Disneyland, and Disney and children from 16 Southern California ethnic groups poured it into Seven SeaWays.

The colorful voyage was developed by Disney’s “imagineers” for the New York World’s Fair where it was enjoyed by an estimated 10 million children. Upon moving to Disneyland, the feature was lengthened by one-third.

A similar photo by staff photographer John Malmin accompanied Rogers’ article.

As reported by staff writer Hugo Martin on Aug. 3, 2014, ‘It’s a Small World’ after all; iconic ride celebrates 50 years. This online article includes a 20-photo gallery of recent and historical photos.

Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter and Google+

Thumbnail view of all From the Archive posts.

1 Comment

  1. August 21, 2014, 8:45 am

    I remember a young captain of the Adventure Land Jungle Boat ride, warning folks not to lose their children at Disneyland. He told us that lost children had their shoes nailed to floor and were forced to perform at Small World. He claimed that this is how he started out at Disneyland !

    By: Grizzly Cheyenne

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.


Required, will not be published

Browse All Photos »