It's a Small World is a venerable ride at Walt Disney World, but its history actually stretches back quite a bit farther than the opening of the Magic Kingdom. On April 10, the ride's 50th anniversary was marked with a special celebration, including a kids' choir and salutes by several of the park's other musical acts.
The choir was part of a global singalong marked at Disney parks around the world, just as the ride itself celebrates other countries and cultures. It was built for the 1964 World's Fair after Walt Disney asked animator Marc Davis to create the boat ride. Disney had been asked to create an exhibit that would salute UNICEF and children around the world, and Davis brought it to life.
After the fair, the popular ride was moved to Disneyland, with the addition of a fancy facade that increased its size by over 30 percent. It reopened in 1966, and the original has run there continuously ever since.
At the World's Fair, It's a Small World carried 10 million riders. That's only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions of Disney guests who've enjoyed it in its many incarnations over the past 50 years. The ride was so quintessentially Disney that a second version was installed in the Magic Kingdom. Today, it's also a part of Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.
The celebratory entertainment kicked off with kids and costumed Cast Members singing the iconic ear worm song in front of Cinderella Castle. Appropriately, the Cast Members represented a variety of cultures, as they came over from World Showcase at Epcot, a living 'round the world trip that you can take any time you visit.
Afterward, acts like the Notorious Banjo Brothers and the Coke Corner Pianist by Casey's Hot Dogs added their own versions. The Dapper Dans always include a bit in their act, so of course they did it on the big day. Guests even got a chance to participate by joining a massive singalong before the Festival of Fantasy parade.
Click the slideshow accompanying this article for scenes from the performers paying homage to It's a Small World. You can enjoy the fun little boat ride for yourself any time in Fantasyland.