It's a Small World: 9 Little-Known Facts

It's a ride every Disney fan has ridden and a song that's impossible to forget.

ByABC News
March 20, 2014, 3:30 PM

March 21, 2014— -- It will soon be the 50th anniversary of a ride every Disney fan has ridden and a song that's impossible to forget.

And on April 10, that milestone year will be celebrated when 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."

Because, it's a small world after all.

Fans from around the world can sing-along too. Starting today, anyone can record videos of themselves singing the classic song and create virtual "it's a small world" dolls at The project will benefit UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), which provides health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more to children around the world.

PHOTOS: Rarely Seen Images of it's a small world

9 Things You Don't Know About it's a small world:

They never thought it would last. It's a small world was created for the 1964 New York World's Fair. The composer of the song, Oscar-winner Richard Sherman, said: "We thought, 'Well, when the World's Fair is over, that will be the end of it. For two years, they'll have this thing.' We never dreamed it would have the 'legs' as they call it, the distance that it's run."

Money was no object for the dolls' costumes. "I asked Walt [Disney] how much I could spend," said Alice Davis, Disney Legend and Imagineering Costume Designer for 'it's a small world,' "and he looked at me and cocked his eyebrow, like he did sometimes, and said, 'We don't think like that here. I want you to do whatever it takes to make these look like dolls every woman in the world would want to have."'

There's a reason you can't get it out of your head. During a 16-hour operating day in the parks, the "it's a small world" song is played, on average, 1,200 times.

Can you spot the sticker at the Disneyland attractions? After two hit seasons at the New York World's Fair in 1964 and '65, "it's a small world" moved to Disneyland in California, where it was expanded and then reopened as a major attraction in 1966. Shipping stickers with 1965 dates can still be found on the back of some set pieces.

Sad clown got a makeover. When the Walt Disney World attraction got refurbished in 2004-2005 the clown piloting a hot air balloon in the "it's a small world" finale changed his demeanor. He now smiles and carries a balloon in his hand. Formerly, he frowned and carried a sign saying, "Help."

Location, location, location. The "it's a small world" attraction at Tokyo Disneyland features the largest Japan section of any version.

It gets dressed up for the holidays. Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland all have a holiday version of the attraction.

The original song concept didn't work out so well. Originally, the attraction featured the dolls singing the national anthems of the various countries. The result was, in Richard Sherman's words, "a cacophony." The Sherman Brothers composed a simple song that could be translated into many languages and sung consistently throughout the attraction.

It really is a small world after all. With the 1992 opening of "it's a small world" at Disneyland Paris, the cheerful anthem now is being played somewhere on the planet every hour of the day.

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