Last year, Disney decided to renovate the designer Mary Blair's masterpiece, the It's A Small World ride and replace some of Blair's animatronic children with Disney movie characters. The ride is set to reopen to the public this weekend, and Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider somehow managed to get invited to the press preview. Possibly by being an snarky corporate apologist who flaunts his disdain for any serious consideration of culture:
A few moments into your first ride, the music and setting refresh your spirit with a deep breath of good cheer and optimism. But by the end of the 10-minute ride, the constant repetition - of dolls and of music - has reduced the experience to theme park minimalism. It's Philip Glass, if he'd been commissioned by your local kindergarten.The point isn't defending Philip Glass for kindergarteners, no matter how hilariously awesome that would be. It's not even [only] that Disney's imagineers have irreparably defaced an historic Work of Art; even assuming those animatronic figurines were original, I'm sure the company didn't toss them in the dumpster or shred them and make them into park benches. The ride could be restored someday.
Of course, some people cherish "It's a Small World," and wouldn't change a thing. (And some people adore "Einstein on the Beach," too, but no one's building a theme park for them. At least, not if there is a God.) Unfortunately for those the first folks, the wardens of "Small World," Disney's Imagineers have made changes.
My beef is that by conflating Disney's imaginary worlds with the real small world, the company fundamentally alters the ride's meaning, from one of global harmony, to one of global harmony through the shared appreciation of Disney licensed properties and merchandise. Small World is about children, not marketing. It's about smiles, not consumption. We should demand that Disney stop trying to exploit Small World for its own corporate ends, and instead return the ride to its altruistic origins--as the Pepsi Pavilion for the 1964 New York World's Fair.
Disneyland debuts changes to 'It's a Small World' [with video] [themeparkinsider]