Enterprises (now known as Disney Imagineers) created the boat ride for the 1964 New York's World Fair. The boat ride was then known as "Children of the World" and presented as a "salute" to UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund). 

It's a Small World celebrated the happy spirit of children all around the world. In fact, the boat ride is one of five Disney attraction used to test a variety of ride systems and concepts at the World's Fair before moving to a Disney park.

Artist Mary Blair actually designed the magical, dazzling style of the iconic Disney ride; in fact, she was considered one of Walt Disney's favorite artists! You'll see more of Mary's work on Disney films such as "Peter Pan," "Cinderella" and "Alice in Wonderland." Marc Davis (you probably recognize his name from other secret history posts) helped with the designing of the scenes and characters, and his wife, Alice Davis, made the dolls' costumes! While we're talking about the ride's creation, it's also worth mentioning the hummable song "It's a Small World (After All)" was written by the Sherman Brothers. Of course, to get the international feel to match the cruise, the song was sung in studios all over the world!

Because of It's a Small World's success at the World's Fair, it was decided to bring the ride to Disneyland Park. According to, around 10 million ride tickets were sold during its season at the World's Fair! And since it was so popular and proved to be an efficient ride system, Disney decided to create even more boat rides with similar operating systems, Pirates of the Caribbean for one!

You can now travel to any Disney park in the world and find a version of It's a Small World. Watch our video of Magic Kingdom's version here! While the song gets repetitive, we always have to visit the boat ride each time we head to Disneyland or Magic Kingdom. It's a Disney tradition after all!

It's a Small World Fun Facts

•According to, there are at least 240 Audio-Animatronics on each version of It's a Small World!

The centerpiece clock tower is 30-feet high! Each version of the boat ride features this clock and marks every quarter hour with characters, animated props, and music.
If you went on Magic Kingdom's version before 2004, you might remember a clown in a hot air balloon with a frown and sign stating, "Help." Via, he was changed to be seen carrying a balloon in his hand and smiling!

•Every holiday season at Disneyland, It's a Small World that has an overlay featuring decorations, costumes, soundtracks, props, and effects celebrating the holidays. This tradition started on November 27, 1997!

Guess we aren't the only ones who have to visit the boat ride every time we venture to Disneyland! According to Guest Research, 1 in 4 Disneyland guests considers it a tradition to visit It's a Small World each Disney vacation.
Not surprising is that the song "It's a Small World (After All)" is the most-played and most-translated song in music history! It plays around 1,200 times during a 16-hour operating day at a Disney park.