Every time I go to DisneyWorld (or Land), I go on the Small World ride. I don’t particularly like this ride; I even would go so far as to say that I dislike it more and more every time I go on it. My father and I were at Walt Disney World last week, and in my mental list of rides that I wanted to go on, Small World was not included.
For anyone not familiar with this ride, it is located in the Fastasyland portion of the Magic Kingdom. That’s were all the kiddie rides are like the Carousel, the Teacups (Mad Hatter’s Tea Party), Snow White (Snow White’s Scary Adventure), Peter Pan (Peter Pan’s Flight) etc. The ride is a slow boat ride past mechanical children that sing the song “It’s a Small World,” Lyrics: It’s a world of laughter/a world of tears/ it’s a world of hopes/ and a world of fears/ There’s so much that we share/ that it’s time we’re aware/ it’s a small world after all. Lovely sentiment—you only really need to hear it once because after you’re done with the ride you don’t care how much we share.
The children are supposed to look like they’re made of wood, but I’m sure it’s some scary-ass, space-age polymer developed by Disney Imagineers to not succumb to the ravages of being near water all the time. They represent a bunch of countries from around the world both in dress and backdrop, and they sing the song in various languages. It’s a frightening, frightening thing.
My father and I were going to go on Peter Pan’s Flight, which is a good ride employing a “flying” ship and a lot of blacklights, but the line was advertised as being 50 minutes long. The Small World ride was only a 20 minute wait. My dad looked at me and said “Should we just go on this one and see if that other line has gone down at all by the time we’re done?”
I had a strange feeling of déjà vu as I realized that that is the logic that has made me ride this ride so many times. That exact statement has been made by someone, maybe even me, every time I’ve been to the Magic Kingdom. I’m now convinced that the only reason anyone goes on the Small World ride is because the line for Peter Pan is always too damn long.
I was told that they’ve updated Small World since I was last on it, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. It’s still the same scary ass children singing the most annoying song in the world. My dad made sport of trying to identify the various countries as we floated past them. Spain: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza tilting at windmills, The Netherlands: scary-ass fake wooden children wearing scary-ass fake wooden shoes, and another windmill. Seriously Spain and The Netherlands were right next to each other necessitating two windmills. Couldn’t they just share? Isn’t that more in keeping with the spirit of the ride? I made sport of trying to pick out robot children that were slightly defective: not blinking in unison with their peers, pivoting slightly behind the others etc.
I noticed that there are more Middle Eastern countries represented than I remembered. Unlike Spain and The Netherlands, which are clearly identifiable, these were just kind of generically “Middle Eastern.” I guess most kids don’t recognize famous Kuwaiti landmarks, but it seemed kind of sad because there were displays enough for at least 3 countries, but they all looked the same. Once we floated past some African nations, I was really hoping for a version of the song in that kick-ass popping/clicking language, but alas, it was not to be.
So anyway, we go past all of these countries. Once my father misidentified a couple out loud, he quit talking. Then we floated into the grand finale of the ride, a giant room where all the children from various nations are all dressed in white and singing the song together. Dressed in white, singing in English. In horror I realized that I have floated into the Disney version of heaven. Yes, these children freak me out, but I don’t want them dead! They’re not alive anyway.
Inevitably the ride got stuck there, so we sat in heaven for at least 5 full minutes giving me plenty of time to notice that even though all of these nations have finally gotten together to sing and make merry (in English), none of them are actually interacting. Each nation (obviously not every country is represented here, just the most identifiable ones), exists in a little area of their own. Essentially, Disney took one display from a few countries, made it white, and plunked it down at the end of the ride.
Heaven is where nations exist side by side, but never mingle.