Disney is marking the 50th anniversary of the It’s a Small World ride at its parks around the globe today, but the attraction didn’t originally debut at any of them.
Developed by Disney “imagineers,” It’s a Small World first opened at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was “enjoyed by an estimated 10 million children” there in 1964 and 1965 before anyone ever rode it at Disneyland starting in 1966, according to a Times article on the ride’s debut in Anaheim.
But the Disneyland riders did experience something new: The attraction was expanded by one-third once it made the cross-country move.
The ceremony marking the ride’s 1966 Disneyland opening sounds like a splashy affair. There were fireworks, 10,000 balloons and a flock of white doves.
Oh, and it was literally splashy: “Water from major oceans and seas around the world was flown to Disneyland, and [Walt] Disney and children from 16 Southern California ethnic groups poured it into Seven SeaWays,” The Times reported.
It’s a Small World and the teacup ride are my two earliest memories of Disneyland, a place I first visited as a 3-year-old. For Throwback Thursday, we encourage you to send your It’s a Small World memories and photos by messaging us here or tweeting them to @latimespast.
— Laura E. Davis
(Photo: Walt Disney pours water from canteen into a channel through It’s a Small World on May 30, 1966. Credit: Los Angeles Times/UCLA Library)