Disneyland celebrates “it’s a small world” 50th anniversary with park-wide performances from legendary songwriter

in Disney, Entertainment, Theme Parks

The Walt Disney Company celebrated the 50th anniversary of the debut of “it’s a small world” at Disneyland and all its other theme parks on April 10th.

The famous attraction and its infamous song actually debuted to the public on April 22, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair, along with three other attractions designed by Walt Disney’s Imagineers.

Those attractions included: “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” “Primeval Diorama” and “Carousel of Progress.”

At Disneyland the celebration started with cast members and invited guests participating in a live singing of the song on “Good Morning America” that took in all of Disney’s theme parks that contain the attraction.

Video: it’s a small world 50th anniversary sing-along at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

Video: it’s a small world 50th anniversary sing-along at Disneyland Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong

Later in the day, Disney legend Richard Sherman, the surviving half of the Sherman Brothers, put in an appearance in front of Disneyland’s version.

Video: it’s a small world 50th anniversary song, parade with Richard Sherman at Disneyland

Richard and his brother Robert (called “the boys” by Walt Disney) were brought in to the project when Disney’s Imagineers realized the original concept of having all the different countries’ national anthems sung would not work.

So Walt asked the boys to write something that could work in many languages. They were under a lot of pressure, but got it written in a week and a half.

“We didn’t think our little song would become this popular,” said Sherman during a Google Hangout in front of the Disneyland version of the attraction that was part of the day’s activities.

During the hangout, hostess Veronica Belmont asked Sherman to play the song on the piano, he happily complied. He started it with the original slow tempo the boys wrote. He ended the song in a more upbeat tempo that Walt asked for after hearing it the first time.

Richard Sherman, co-composer with his brother Robert, sings it’s a small world while Veronica Belmont of Google Hangout.

The song was translated into many languages for the attraction when it debuted in New York, where Pepsi Cola and UNICEF sponsored it.

Video: it’s a small world 1966 grand opening ceremony at Disneyland with Walt Disney

After the fair closed down, it was moved to Disneyland, where the original (with some recently replaced boats) still runs.

And, of course, where the song some claim they love to hate, plays over and over again.
“It’s an earworm. You can’t shake it,” Sherman said during the Google Hangout.

At 2 p.m. the Disneyland Band led a small parade, with Sherman and his wife riding in a fire engine, down Main Street U.S.A. Sherman had a microphone, and led a sing-along of the song down the entire route, smiling the whole time.

Richard Sherman conducts the crowd on Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland.

Many of the park’s guests joined in the sing-along, and could be heard as it made its way down Main Street U.S.A. and around Town Square, applauding and cheering as the parade ended.

But if anyone hated the song, no one did today, as there was nothing but smiles throughout the park as many sang the song – over and over again.

In case you weren’t sure, here are the 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.
It’s a small world after all. It’s a small world after all.
It’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world.

There is just one moon and one golden sun. And a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all.
It’s a small world after all. It’s a small world after all.
It’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world.”

Come on, admit it, you’re singing it now.

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