The World Is Smaller, And Better Than We Think It Is


I’ve watched a lot of people gripe at Disneyland.  If I had to rank the adult grievances about Disney Parks I’d certainly place “expense” in the number one spot and “kids whining” at number 2.

Number three would probably be “It’s A Small World” though.

For my money “Small World” is the most polarizing feature of The Happiest Place On Earth.  People seem to either love it or hate it.  I’ve found that many of the “haters” also feel the need to be excessively vocal with their derision of the ride.  I usually overhear at least one conversation per visit to the park in which someone rails against “Small World” as if it is one of the world’s great evils.

Sometimes mom’s announce that they “don’t want that dang song in my head all day” or kids announce that they’re “too grown to be seen in that ride”.  I’ve actually heard one father* tell his children that the “overriding ‘secular humanist’ message of the ride is in conflict with our Christian beliefs.”

The casual listener can probably leave fantasy land with the idea that few people truly enjoy Walt Disney’s “It’s A Small World”.  This isn’t to say that people don’t ride “It’s a Small World”; quite often the line for the attraction is as long as many of the other rides at the Disney parks.  It’s just to say that the ride seems mostly targeted to impress very young children or optimistic racial profilers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an IASW “hater”. I ride it whenever it’s open.  This is because I’ve noticed that the ride does offer some very specific perks:

On hot days the air conditioning provides about 10 minutes of relief.

On long days “Small World” offers the opportunity to catch a power nap.

Closing hour means cuddling couples might get a boat to themselves.

Of course whether or not you’re attempting a “cool down”, “sleep off” or a “warm up” you do run the risk of suffering a ride malfunction.

Since It’s A Small World was built in 1966 (apparently out of  the technology developed to create cuckoo clocks and rubber band guns) most return guests have undoubtedly experienced a breakdown during one of their voyages.

While this might seem to enhance several of the ride’s “secondary uses”, the ride operator protocol appears to forbid turning off the ride soundtrack.  This means that when you’re stuck, you’re stuck listening to a very simple song over and over again, and in the case of certain rooms, in Swedish, Cockney, or my personal favorite… “gargling mermaid”.

While getting stuck inside It’s A Small World isn’t uncommon, it does seem to reinforce the ire of many visitors.

I’ve actually complained about getting stuck inside It’s a Small World. I was once in there for about 9 extra minutes.

The song did get stuck in my head.

I did feel like I was too old to be seen riding it.

I did not become a secular humanist.

I did tell the other people in my party that it was “the worst part of my day” though.

This morning I read a story about a disabled man who was awarded $8,000 after being stranded inside a malfunctioning “It’s A Small World” for 30 minutes.  Apparently the wheelchair bound man had to go to the bathroom and was not able to get up and walk out of the ride like the rest of the passengers.  They never turned off the soundtrack.

I don’t know how much merit the case had.

I don’t know if the award was just or not.

I do know that I was stuck inside a ride for 9 minutes and I felt like people needed to hear about it.  I didn’t read the article and get mad at “a litigious society” or “attitudes of entitlement” I just got a little embarrassed about my own behavior.

We don’t get to pick what happens to us,
We simply get to pick how we are going to respond to our circumstances.

The next time I feel like my circumstances are bad enough to warrant a negative attitude I’m going to remind myself that I have more power than most to do something about my current situation.

Very few grown ups enjoy “It’s A Small World”, but their wives and kids often do.  For a fully grown, fully functioning man to pretend that riding “It’s A Small World” is an injustice is beyond silly, it’s an infantile misrepresentation of a life so blessed by privilege that “misfortune” boils down to spending about 10 minutes of time with his children in Walt Disney’s UNESCO doll collection.

Getting into that little boat doesn’t cause a bad attitude, a series of decisions made long before that moment does.  It only takes one decision to change that.  Let’s let that decision be made in light of those who actually do have it worse than us…

…and by that I clearly mean the people in line for those Winnie the Pooh honey pots;)

*yes it was my dad.

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