Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's a Small World of Controversy

Disneyland's current months-long rehab of It's a Small World has run into some controversy.

Disney has confirmed it intends to add some Disney characters to the ride.

Plans include adding Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit to the England section of the ride, "in keeping with attraction creator Mary Blair’s original designs and color palette."

This kind of thing tends to cause controversy every now and then, as those who want to keep the park "as is" -- which is, in a sense, also preserving a piece of history -- collide with those who believe in continuing to freshen up and "plus" rides, following Walt's belief that the park would never be finished. Sometimes I come down on one side of the argument, sometimes the other.

In this case, although I was originally quite dubious about the inclusion of characters, I think it may work. Mary Blair, after all, was the artist whose sketches gave the animated films ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PETER PAN, and CINDERELLA their "looks," so if the characters are selected carefully and incorporate Blair's original designs for those films, the new characters might fit in.

Blair's son, however, is unhappy with the idea. Some folks have even started a Save the Small World website. Re-Imagineering is another site critical of the remodel plans.

Some of the controversy apparently stems from the fact that the Small World opening at Hong Kong Disneyland next month has a whopping 38 Disney characters. Disney says the Disneyland version will not look like the Hong Kong Disneyland ride.

In related news, an ALICE IN WONDERLAND book illustrated with Mary Blair's ALICE sketches will be released later this year. It appears the book will be similar to the recent CINDERELLA book illustrated with Blair's sketches. CINDERELLA is a beautiful book which I intend to add to our Disney bookshelf.

Hopefully the publication of a Blair-illustrated PETER PAN won't be far behind.

April 9th Update: An open letter from Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar.

February 5, 2009 Update: Disneyland's Renovated Small World Opens Friday.


Blogger Irene said...

I also have mixed feelings about this. Snow White and the White Rabbit sound OK to me. But I think they need to be very careful about which scenes to put in. I've seen photos of Stitch on a surfboard with Lilo (probably from Hong Kong's Small World)and I don't like that. There are several threads on MiceChat about this (as I'm sure you know). I just hope they keep it tasteful and stick to Mary Blair's drawings. I love her artwork.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Exactly. Hong Kong's version seems pretty over the top. As you say, if it's tasteful and in the Blair style, it could be a good thing. We'll have to see what they come up with... I'll be following the Mice Chat discussions with interest!

Best wishes,

1:56 PM  

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