It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears, a world of hopes and a world of fears. There’s so much that we share and it’s time you’re aware that the worst ride in the existence of Disneyland and home to the song that never left your head for weeks after taking a trip down the chlorine filled waters of forced cultural diversity, It’s A Small World, is being turned into a movie. It was inevitable that this was going to happen, really, what with the history and success of other ride-to-movie deals in the park. But it doesn’t make the news any less worthy of an eye roll or two. There are questions to be asked.
The ride from hell debuted at the New York World’s Fair, then moved to Disneyland 50 years ago (in fact, the 50th anniversary was just this Tuesday). It’s an iconic piece of the park that has also been replicated at four other Disney theme parks. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of taking a cruise through Fantasyland, It’s a Small World involves strapping into a low-riding boat with about 10 of your closest new tourist friends to travel down a rank river of reclaimed pool water. Along the way, you move through all the lands of the world as over 300 audio-animatronic dolls dressed in the finest stereotypical representations of their countries sing their little hearts out about peace and unity. It’s a small world after all.
Nine times out of 10, your boat will get stuck somewhere down the river, usually around the Arctic for some reason, and you’ll be forced to listen to the repeating chorus of the song on end until you inevitably snap like that time Lisa Simpson became the Lizard Queen at Duff Gardens.
Creating a film about a theme park ride that everyone generally finds grating seems like an iffy idea, but Last Vegas director John Turteltaub and The Internship writer Jared Stern are up for the task. Disney clearly had massive, sprawling success taking Pirates of the Caribbean and transforming it from a fun, creaky ride that people tended to pick to escape the heat when it was really hot outside into a four movie international franchise. They stumbled when they adapted another ride for The Haunted Mansion, the 2003 Eddie Murphy comedy about the spooky haunted house ride that didn’t really provide any laughs.
What It’s a Small World does have in common with Pirates is animatronic puppets — both rides feature a whole mess of them. Maybe that’s the common ground Disney is looking for as a success indicator? If so, get ready for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, coming to a theater near you.
The plot of It’s a Small World hasn’t been announced, but one can only expect that it’s a musical that you’ll have to go to with a small child at some point. Perhaps it’s focused on a group of intrepid kid explorers who set off on a voyage around the world and interact with children they meet in every country they visit. Hopefully Stern, living outside of the 1960s, will realize, while writing the script, that foreign children do not wear the traditional clothing of their cultures every single day of their lives. Are you ready to be inspired by the sounds of happy children uniting around the world?