Disney Adds Inclusive Addition to Iconic Ride

One of Disney’s classics is getting a very modern update.

The “It’s a Small World” ride is a beloved Disney  (DIS) – Get Free Report parks experience that can be had at five different parks across the world. Even if you’ve never been to Disney, all you need to hear are the first few bars of that unforgettable song, and bang — you’re humming it all day.

The ride was created by Disney Imagineers as a boat ride for the 1964 New York’s World Fair. It was originally called “Children of the World”, and was created to highlight the worldwide child welfare efforts of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It was such a hit at the fair it was decided the ride should become a feature at Disneyland Park.

“It’s a Small World”, as the ride would later be dubbed, features an assortment of animatronic dolls donning outfits from cultures all over the world. The ride and its cherubic-faced citizens were designed by Mary Blair, whose art gained the admiration of Walt Disney in now-classics like “Peter Pan”, “Cinderella”, and “Alice in Wonderland”.

Several generations have enjoyed the all-ages, heartwarming experience of “It’s a Small World”. And thanks to Disney’s newest additions to the ride, the world just got a little more inclusive.

Disney Parks

“It’s a Small World” Ride Adds Inclusive Characters

The Disneyland Park iconic ride has made two “small” changes that could have a big impact on some park guests. “Small World” now includes two dolls using wheelchairs. The first doll appears in the South America scene. The second doll can be found in a scene featuring dolls from multiple countries singing the famous song together.

The addition is one that Disney Parks hopes will help make the Disney experience just a little more inclusive. In a press release, Disney acknowledged the historic dolls are a part of a bright future for the parks. “At Disney Parks, the diversity of our cast members and guests and their perspectives about the world inspire us to keep our parks, experiences, and products in a constant state of becoming — becoming more vibrant, more inclusive, more delightful, and more relevant,” it said. 

“It’s a Small World” rides at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris are planning to make similar additions in 2023.

Disney Parks & Making a Place for Everyone

The initiative to include dolls with mobility aids is just one of myriad ways Disney is looking to make the parks experience enjoyable for all kinds of guests. In July, Services for Guests with Disabilities Specialist Mark Feltner took to the Disney Parks blog to share his experiences working to make the Disney parks experience more equitable for visitors in wheelchairs. 

Feltner has worked with the Disney Imagineers on a variety of projects like the Mad Tea Party and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. But his most exciting innovation, he says in the blog, is the Kali River Rapids ride. Now, wheelchair users who want to board the ride’s boat are able to shift out of their chairs directly into the boat rather than transition to the floor of the deck.

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