It's a Small World, will celebrate its 50th and golden anniversary on April 10!
"On Thursday, April 10, 2014, hundreds of voices from Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris in France and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort will sing the unforgettable theme song of the 'happiest cruise that ever sailed the seven seas,' " Disney Parks and Resorts said Friday.
To initiate the merrymaking, a virtual sing-along is being launched Friday at SmallWorld50.com, where fans "may record videos of themselves singing the classic song" and create virtual dolls to benefit the United Nations Children's Fund.
For every video recorded and digital doll shared, the Walt Disney Company will make a donation to benefit UNICEF, $100,000 in total. This will be in addition to a $150,000 gift the company has already earmarked for the organization, which works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children's lives."
From People online: "The public first heard the theme song on April 22, 1964, the opening day of the 1964 New York World's Fair.
Along with a lifelike Abraham Lincoln who stood up and talked, dinosaurs that hovered over newly introduced Ford Mustangs, and a General Electric presentation about America's technological progress, Walt Disney – the fair's "farthest flung impresario," as The New York Times described him – also presented what would prove to be the expo's most popular draw: It's a Small World – a Salute to UNICEF, "in which visitors enjoy a 10-minute boat ride seeing scenes of foreign lands," reported the newspaper.
Of all people, it was semi-retired Hollywood star Joan Crawford – despite her reputation for mistreating her own kids – who pushed to have Disney honor the world's children.
As the widow of Pepsi-Cola's late CEO Alfred Steele, Crawford sat on the Pepsi board. When the company hesitated in hiring Disney for the pavilion it would sponsor at the fair, Crawford reputedly put her formidable foot down – and Pepsi sponsored It's a Small World.
"Disney's realistic robots," said Time magazine, "stalk the fair. [Small World] has about 350 of them, doll-size, flanking a boat ride that children seem to like more than anything else. Scottish dolls climb steep plaid mountains, Iranian dolls fly on Persian carpets, and French dolls cancan."
During peak periods, the ride – which during its development was called Children of the World – drew up to 40,000 fairgoers a day at 90 cents per adult (about $6.75 today) and 65 cents for those under 12. By the end of its two-year New York run, Small World had been seen by 10 million people.
Knowing it was too good to tear down along with the rest of the fair, "Mr. Disney," said The Times, "has all future rights to It's a Small World, which he may move to Disneyland, in California."
And so he did – situating it directly north of the Matterhorn in the newly expanded Fantasyland, where it opened under a sparkly new edifice on May 28, 1966."
Watch the original It's a Small World at NY World's Fair thanks to the video below!
Pictures and videos: copyright Disney