From the Archives: It’s a Small World opens at Disneyland

May 30, 1966: Walt Disney pours water from canteen into a channel through new Disneyland attraction,
May 30, 1966: Walt Disney pours water from canteen into a channel through new Disneyland attraction, “It’s a Small World.”
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

Built by Walt Disney Studios, It’s a Small World originally opened at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. After its successful run, the ride moved to Disneyland.

Staff writer Ray Rogers reported in the May 31, 1966, Los Angeles Times:

Walt Disney joined Bank of America officials Monday in opening the newest attraction at Disneyland – a musical journey by boats through enchanted foreign lands where animated dolls perform.

"It's a Small World" is the theme of the international voyage which is based on audio-animatronics, the Disney technique of making three-dimensional figures seem alive. It was first used in the Abraham Lincoln exhibit at the Anaheim park.

Cackling fireworks and the release of 10,000 balloons and a flock of white doves heralded the opening of the new feature that becomes a part of Fantasyland. The Bank of America is its sponsor.

Louis B. Lundborg, the bank's board chairman, explained that the 12-minute journey through Small World takes place over "Seven SeaWays," a channel that flows through nine major regions.

Disney and Lundborg sat in the first boatload of children to complete the journey. Scores of child-like dolls in various native costumes danced, waved and performed along the route.

Water from major oceans was flown to Disneyland, and Disney and children from 16 Southern California ethnic groups poured it into Seven SeaWays.

The colorful voyage was developed by Disney's "imagineers" for the New York World's Fair where it was enjoyed by an estimated 10 million children. Upon moving to Disneyland, the feature was lengthened by one-third.

A similar photo by staff photographer John Malmin accompanied Rogers' article. Standing next to Disney in this image is Louis B. Lundborg, Bank of America board chairman.

This post was originally published on Aug. 21, 2014.

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