“it’s a small world” Around the World

“it’s a small world” Around the World

Podcast & More

Last month we started a series that compared attractions across the globe. We started with a look at Disney castles across the globe. That was very popular, and we want to continue in that vein.

While many have talked about how “it’s a small world” came to be, few have really done any sort of comparison of how these attractions stack up to one another. After all, you’ve seen one doll, you’ve seen them all, right? Well, in this podcast with a comparison chart, post, photos and videos, we take on the entire “it’s a small world” around the world.

You can find our podcast here on PodbeaniTunesSpotifyMyTuner, and ListenNotes. Be sure to subscribe and share with others! The following is a summary, but the meat of this message is in the podcast, so please listen!


We offer the following chart to showcase how these attractions compare across the board:

New York World’s Fair

Created for Pepsi Cola at the New York World’s Fair, this version of “it’s a small world” was modest compared to its later siblings. The symbol of the attraction was not a clock tower but a Tower of the Four Winds.

Model of the Tower of the Four Winds. Photo by J. Jeff Kober


The original attraction at the New York World’s Fair provided what has been the sequence for almost every attraction since. Beyond boarding and disembarking, the ride consisted of the following:


  • Scandinavian singers, dancers & skaters
  • Danish Toy Soldier Guards of Tivoli Gardens
  • English School Children on London Bridge
  • Emerald Isle with leprechauns
  • Scottish bagpipes played on plaid mountain hills
  • Girl leading a flock of singing geese in Belgium
  • Can can dancers in Gay Paree
  • Wooden shoe children of Holland seated on tulips
  • Sunny Spain with musicians, dancers, Don Quixote & Sancho
  • A leaning tower of pisa with the gondolas of Venice
  • Swiss Yodelers, & Bells
  • Little German band


  • Greek shepherd boy playing on his pipes of pan
  • High-stepping Cossacks dancing to a Balalaika Band
  • Middle East festive marketplace with tambourine dancers
  • Silhouette of a Golden Godess reigning over Bali dancers, musicians and a bengal tiger
  • Indian snake charmers alongside veiled dancers from India dancing along the Taj Mahal with flying carpets above
  • Japanese boys flying dragon kites & kimono-clad girls singing

Africa & Middle East

  • Cleopatra reclining on a couch
  • A lone boy and his camel surveying the pyramids
  • African savannah of hippos, monkeys, rhinos, giraffe’s, lions, elephants, crocodiles & a laughing hyena
  • Native African princesses dancing in a circle

South & Central America

  • Penguins of Antartica with Gaucho-style hats
  • Llama & a reed boat high in the South American Andes
  • A rainforest of exotic birds and animals
  • A Carnival of dancers & musicians along the swirling boardwalk of Copacabana Beach of Rio de Janeiro
  • Latin-American marketplace with pottery makers and flower venders
  • Central American dancers circling under a large sombrero

You can see it all laid out and presented by Walt Disney himself at this link.


“it’s a small world” came home to Disneyland, where it was given a signature exterior entrance complete with a center clock that shares the time every 15 minutes.

Two sections were added that were not in the original: A South Seas & a North Pole. But this is one of many add ons the attraction has received over the years, to include Disney characters being added on in late 2008.

In recent years a “small world holiday” version was created that has taken the experience to a whole new level. The video shows what this season of festivities is like at this link:

Small World Holiday exterior lights. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Walt Disney World

Disney brings back East “it’s a small world” to the vacation kingdom of the world. The big difference was the exterior, which was more aligned to the Medieval tent style of Fantasyland. It also created for interior loading. The flooded layout changes the placement of lands along your journey.

Tokyo Disneyland

Created on a flooded plain like the Magic Kingdom version, this attraction follows the same footprint as before, but with element accentuated, in particular, greater detail and enunciation of different cultures in Asia.

Still, it held the exterior version found at Disneyland. Because of colder seasons in Japan, the facade eventually took on pastel colors to brighten the attraction on cloudy days. Also, they added a stage in front for “Kids of the Kingdom” style shows. Eventually, the stage element was removed. You can see what that looks like at this link:

Recently the attraction went through a major remodeling in 2018, which created a new interior queue experience, plus a much more colorful, better lit version compared to Magic Kingdom.

Disneyland Paris

There is something also unique about the Disneyland Paris version. Its design details are very colorful–perhaps even more so, but does not follow the Mary Blair design in the same way. It is a more flowing, organic design. The attraction is really housed in one large room using arches and sets to block in different sections of the ride. The dolls and animals are pretty much the same.

North America section of “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Paris. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This also extends to the exterior. While the larger design aesthetic is in place, the attraction was the first to have a pastel color palette added. Also, the clock tower is not the smiling face, but a half sun/half moon face moving back and forth. Exterior roofs cover the loading/unloading area.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

In the video segment below, you can see Imagineer Tom Morris describe the differences that make up “it’s a small world” in Disneyland Paris. Emphasized is the addition of a North American section.

If you listen to the music of the Paris version, it seems to play at a higher BPM (125 beats per minute) than the original version (120 BPM).

Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong’s version lays in Fantasyland but outside the railroad tracks that surround the park. This version works to greatly improve the Asian version, with the highlight being Hong Kong itself. This version falls after the North & South American section, and incorporates some homage to New Zealand within it. The Middle East is also given its own section, with Egypt added to it rather than to Africa.

Middle East section includes Aladdin & Jasmine on a flying carpet. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

In this version we add Disney characters to the attraction. Shortly thereafter, the Disney characters were added to Disneyland and later on to Tokyo Disneyland.

More to Come!

As if the journey on six versions of this attraction weren’t enough, we’ll be bringing you another podcast later this week which celebrates some remarkable messages not only behind this attraction, but in the lives of the people who made it a reality. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast. And if you like what you’re listening to, please share a rating and review with others on iTunes. Thanks for joining us.

Also, check out our recent podcast comparing Disney castles across the globe.

J. Jeff Kober

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