April 22nd was a busy day, indeed! Not only was it Earth Day, which is the day Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened 16 years ago in 1998, it was also the 50th anniversary of the April 22nd opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair – which means it is the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and Disney “it’s a small world”, since they both first opened at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
The Disney Parks Blog has some great pictures and history from the 1964 New York World’s Fair about these classic attractions.
Pepsi-Cola presents Walt Disney’s “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair from Disney Parks Blog
Artwork by Disney Legend John Hench from Disney Parks Blog
According to the history of “it’s a small world” attraction listing on the Disney web page:
“it’s a small world” was created for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Personally overseen by Walt Disney in support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the attraction was a huge hit for 2 seasons at the fair and was eventually shipped back to Disneyland park, where it reopened on May 28, 1966.
In 1971, “it’s a small world” was recreated to become one of the Opening Day attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. Due to its immense popularity, the attraction has been replicated in every Disney Resort around the world and is considered a Walt Disney classic.
And the history on the Disney website for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress goes like this:
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress was personally created by Walt Disney for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
Featuring state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics—Walt Disney’s latest animation technology at the time—the show was originally conceived as part of a new area at Disneyland park called Edison Square. When the concept was abandoned, the idea was re-imagined, eventually opening under the name “Progressland” at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
With the classic song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” written and composed by the Academy Award®-winning team of brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, the show was an instant hit. Following its success, the show moved to Disneyland park and was renamed “The Carousel of Progress,” where it played until September 9, 1973.
In January 15, 1975, the attraction moved to Magic Kingdom theme park where it was rewritten and restaged with a new theme song, “The Best Time of Your Life.” But in the true spirit of progress, the show was reworked in 1994 to its initial incarnation with the original theme song intact—as a tribute to nostalgia.
To mark the occasion of the anniversary of Disney “it’s a small world”, check out smallworld50.com where you can upload a video of you singing the theme song or create a custom doll, all to benefit UNICEF. (Forewarning – it you don’t want to have the song in your head for the rest of the day then turn the volume off on your computer before you click the link.)
Disney and UNICEF’s relationship began in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair when Disney unveiled the “it’s a small world” attraction, a tribute to UNICEF and children around the world. More recently, Disney and UNICEF have worked together to create a brighter tomorrow for children through programming that helps foster imagination and creativity.
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world”, Disney will donate $150,000 to benefit UNICEF. In addition, the company will donate $1 for every video recorded and every Small World digital doll created at www.smallworld50.com, up to $100,000.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary, you can download Exclusive Carousel of Progress Wallpaper for your computer, ipad, and smartphones thanks to the Disney Parks Blog. There are also some “it’s a small world” wallpapers also.
And with all things Disney, there is merchandise to commemorate the occasion. Don’t miss out on getting your limited-release tees at Disneyshopping.com.
Happy Anniversary to
Disney “it’s a small world”
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress!!!