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When did you first see Disney's Small World? It's about to turn 50

It's a Small World, the theme park ride created by Walt Disney with dancing animatronic dolls and the song that endlessly loops through our collective brains, is about to hit middle age. The ride meant to convey peace and hope (not melodic overload) debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair as a tribute to children everywhere and to UNICEF. Now, to mark the attraction's half century, Disney parks worldwide will host a global sing-along in April -- and everyone is invited.

Performers will pay vocal tribute to the song and the ride in Disneyland in Anaheim, Disney World in Florida, and the Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong parks on April 10. Disneyland's website says the ride has been closed for refurbishment and will reopen April 10.

Aside from the park events, there's a digital side to the sing-along too. Fans who can't be there in person can make a video of themselves singing it -- solo, with friends and family, or with complete strangers -- and upload it to SmallWorld50.com.

The Walt Disney Co. announced last week it would donate $150,000 to UNICEF in honor of Small World's milestone and additionally will give $1 for every uploaded song and $1 for every virtual doll created on the website, up to $100,000.

Also, children who go to Disney Stores from April 10 to 13 can sing the song too, and take part in other events, like learning to say "hello" in different languages and take an imaginary Small World cruise, the company announcement says.

The attraction drew 10 million visitors when it ran from 1964 to '65 at the world's fair. A year later, an expanded version made Disneyland its permanent home. The theme song was written by longtime Disney songwriters and brothers Richard and Robert Sherman. (Here's a video of Robert Sherman doing a prayerful version of the song at a fundraiser in San Pedro two years ago.)

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com
Follow us on Twitter @latimestravel, like us on Facebook @Los Angeles Times Travel.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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