It's a Commercial World, After All!

Disneyland gives classic ride a makeover

The classic Disneyland ride 'It's a Small World" reopens Friday with a brand new look, and not everyone is happy with the changes at the Happiest Place on Earth.

The ride's dolls from around the world are now joined by 29 characters from Disney and Disney-Pixar cartoons. Alice and the White Rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland" are hanging out in Great Britain, Woody and Jessie from "Toy Story" appear in a new Spirit of America scene, and Donald Duck from "The Three Caballeros" has a spot in South America. 

As for that song that sticks in your head for hours after the boat ride ends?  The original tune written by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman will still be piped out but with some film music woven in. Expect to hear "A Whole New World" from "Aladdin," for example.

While a Disney press release says, "We know that many people have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to relive their 'It's a small world' memories and create new ones with children, grandchildren and friends," some purists have questioned whether adding characters from animated movies sullies the intended experience.

A writer on the Web site Boing Boing calls it "one of the most egregious and downright disgusting decisions" ever made by Disney.

Other new characters added include Mulan and Mushu from "Mulan" in Asia, Ariel and Flounder form "The Little Mermaid" in the Pacific Islands, and Aladdin and Jasmine form "Aladdin" in the Middle East.

When the ride closed for its makeover, there were widespread media reports that the boats had to be changed to accommodate America's expanding waistlines (not such a small world, anymore).  But Disney has insisted that has nothing to do with it.

"It's a Small World" debuted at the 1964-65 World Fair in New York, reopened as a major attraction at Disneyland in 1966 and has seen more than 256 million park visitors spin through it since then.

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