There is quite possibly no other ride that brings you both joy and dread like “It’s a Small World”. It’s the ride that you want to love but a song that will stay with you until you think you’ll scream!
My mother rode the original “It’s a Small World” at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. She rode it while pregnant with my sister and rode it with her mother-in-law, my Nana. If I’ve heard the story once, I’ve heard it a million times. It’s become a long-standing family joke and now whenever we are at Walt Disney World and in the Magic Kingdom, I find myself straining towards “It’s a Small World” because my mother rode it before I was born!
I can remember riding on it as a child, however, and looking at all of the small children animatronics and thinking that I wanted to take one of them home with me. They just looked so adorable and life-like and all I could think was that I had to have one! Of course I never climbed out of the boat and confiscated one of them but deep down I always wanted to! Hey, who am I kidding, I contemplated it just three years ago!
Back in 2008, my sister and I took our mom with us on our trip to Walt Disney World. It was the first time the three of us had been there together since 1983. There was no escaping the reality of having to take her on “It’s a Small World” and there was no escaping hearing the story; “I rode this ride in 1964…” Seriously, it’s almost as bad as the song!
But all kidding aside, it is a fond childhood memory and no other ride has such a family history as “It’s a Small World”. I mean, think about it, this is a ride that has held a place in our family for over 40 years! How could we NOT ride it?
One of the best parts about the ride, if you can get over the song, is that there is hardly ever a long wait to get on it and really, it’s a nice little boat ride, a great place to relax and absorb a little bit of geographical culture.
As a mother of two boys, I don’t think that they ever found any joy in the dancing and singing dolls but my older son will grudgingly go on it with me just so that I don’t launch in to the whole “Your grandmother rode this ride…” story. But I have known many people who have this as one of their must-see attractions on their lists and probably for the same reason as I do, sentimental.
On one of our trips, it was either 1998 or 2001, I actually found a Christmas ornament for “It’s a Small World” in the Ye Olde Christmas Shop in Liberty Square and bought it for my mother. Years later, it went missing and I have never been able to replace it. She loved to put it up for Christmas because it made her think of a simpler time in her life spent on a simple ride with someone that she loved dearly.
We should all have a memory like that where we can still bring it to mind 40 years later and remember it with a warm heart and a smile.