Moving ‘it’s a small world’ Across the Country and Back Again

Erin Glover

by , Director, Publicity, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Disney Parks has kicked off a global celebration for the 50th anniversary of the opening of “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Have you joined the celebration yet? Just go to to record your sing-along video and create your own doll to benefit UNICEF!

In preparing for this celebration, I had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of “it’s a small world” here at Disneyland park – during which I discovered something pretty incredible. Walking behind the large set pieces, I saw these odd little stickers:


Looking very closely, I was able to make out the date “Jan 5 1964.” Also noting that this flameproofing was done here in California led me to the conclusion that this sticker was applied after the set pieces were created and before they were shipped to New York to be assembled for their debut just months later at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Along with these fireproofing stickers, I found lots of smaller blue stickers labeled “GLOBAL VAN LINES.” Some of you may remember that, in addition to hosting a locker facility on Main Street, U.S.A., Global Van Lines also operated many years ago from their global headquarters adjacent to Disneyland park – in fact, it was located right here where I am sitting, which is now Team Disney Anaheim (the administrative building in which many Disneyland Resort offices are housed).

Here’s the mystery: were these stickers applied for the shipping from California to New York or vice-versa? Even my friends at the Walt Disney Archives were not sure. (Feel free to discuss your theories in the comments!)

Another discovery that fascinated me were the letter/number designations painted on the back of every single set piece. I learned that these labels aided in the assembly of the large, elaborate set pieces both in New York and at the attraction’s permanent home here in Anaheim in 1966. It was also pointed out to me that some of the larger pieces were attached by hinges, making them easier to pack, ship and reassemble. Stepping back, I realized that “it’s a small world” is one huge jigsaw puzzle!


  • A “?behind the scenes” tour with only ONE photo? And a photo of a tag without telling us what piece of scenery it was attached to? All this story did was want me to know more. I’ll be riding it at Disneyland when it reopens for a week (before going down again for an additional month) and will be anxiously curious about the tags/clues attached to the backs of the scenery pieces.

  • Wow it’s amazing to think about how Small World was transferred around in huge chunks. I love the message it sends about the world joining together as one while simultaneously appreciating the differences among us all. I love hearing about info like this, would love to hear more about Global Van Line and more insight to the Small World ride.

  • As for it being one huge jigsaw puzzle; every time there is an aerial video above the Magic Kingdom, I find it ironic that the ‘largest’ cubic feet, single attraction “building” in the picture has the word ‘small’ in its name.

  • The stickers would have been applied before leaving the west coast…the scene shop,in this case R.L. Grosh and sons Sunset Blvd. Hollywood Calif., would have flame proofed all the scenery and numbered all the pieces for shipping and installation…The east coast stagehand locals and the fire marshal would not let the scenery in the door without the flame proofing info stickers…As you said, Global Van Line was right next door and I would not be surprised to hear that Global trailers or warehouse were used to store scenery until it was all ready to go to the fair…The stickers from Global(also applied on the west coast) was their way tracking the loads and for inspections going from state to state…

  • I find it absolutely fascinating that an attraction that big would be shipped across country and back. I love this little sneak peek at how it was done.

  • Love the behind the scenes Disney information. Keep it coming.

    My feeling is the item is going to New York. Since the worlds fair in NY started April 22nd, 1964. I think Marty Sklar (In his most recent book) talked about it being assembled in like 2 or 3 months.

  • Pixie Dust, & Disney Magic….

  • Fascinating! Love hearing this sort of behind-the-scenes information. It would be a great topic for another blog post to find out more about the whole process of how they were able to (essentially) move the ride from one place to another. Rides (ahem, attractions) generally aren’t portable so it’s amazing that they pulled it off 50 years ago!

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