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This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a talk with Disney Legend Richard Sherman about his storied career at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, via the Chicago Tribune. One of Mr. Sherman’s many recollections involved visiting one of the soundstages with his collaborator and brother, Robert, to experience a mock-up of an attraction that would soon be making its debut at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City.
The attraction — then titled ‘UNICEF Salutes the Children of the World’ — featured small audio animatronic dolls representing children from nations around the globe, all of whom were singing their respective national anthems. ‘It was one of those ideas that looked good on paper,’ Mr. Sherman recalls, but in practice became what he refers to as a ‘cacophony.’
The solution, Walt decided, was to have ‘the boys’ come up with a new song that would help unite the attraction while presenting its message. Unable to find a way to make ‘UNICEF Salutes the Children of the World,’ to roll off the tongue, the Shermans were instructed by Disney to create a theme that would pay tribute to all of the ‘small children of the world’ who represented hope for the future. The Shermans took that message, abbreviating it to ‘small world’ and what Mr. Sherman seemingly unapologetically refers to as ‘the ear worm of the world’ was born.
Now just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, Disney Store is preparing to launch a second entry into its popular Animators’ Collection series of dolls, the “it’s a small world” collection, inspired by the art of Mary Blair. The dolls — which represent geographic regions such as France, India, England/United Kingdom, Africa, Hawaii, Holland and Japan — not only look adorable but each one also sings “it’s a small world” in both English and its respective language.
At a recent holiday preview held by Disney Consumer Products, we had the opportunity to check out the dolls along with a complementary collection of plush inspired by the attraction. Below is our gallery of images along with a video in which you can hear a few of the dolls singing:
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The “it’s a small world” Animators’ Collection will be available at Disney Store beginning in October. The dolls will retail for $29.50 each.