Disneyland’s It’s a Small World attraction is adding dolls on wheelchairs to spread the message of inclusion

ANAHEIM, California — For the first time in Disneyland’s 67-year history, wheelchair users are now represented in an attraction.

On Friday morning, two dolls in wheelchairs were unveiled at the theme park’s It’s a Small World ride, a project that lasted more than half a year and involved both Disney creatives and the park’s accessibility team.

The change is part of an ongoing effort to examine the resort “with a magnifying glass” for integration opportunities, said Kim Irvine, executive creative director of Walt Disney Imagineering for Disneyland Resort.

Designed by Disney artist Mary Blair, the attraction opened in Anaheim in 1966 after being presented at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

The same ride has been added at other Disney parks around the world, where guests board a boat and sail through multiple countries, with more than 300 audio animatronics characters representing children from around the world.

Irvine said the new additions fit the spirit of the original attraction.

“What a wonderful story that Walt and Mary Blair and the original Imagineers have put together about the children of the world and our unity under a bright sun – and how we really should rejoice in it together.”

The dolls, which are now in wheelchairs, were originally standing. Irvine said the same characters were recreated with the same clothing in a seated position in wheelchairs that match Mary Blair’s style.

One puppet is in the South America scene of the ride and the other appears in the final scene where puppets from many countries sing together.

Add “meaningful things”.

The Disneyland attraction reopened Friday after a brief closure for the addition of these dolls and the installation of holiday decor for the It’s a Small World Holiday edition of the ride, which will run through early January.

While the holiday decorations are seasonal, the dolls in wheelchairs are a permanent addition.

Dolls with wheelchairs are expected to be added to It’s a Small World at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris sometime next year.

But since each resort’s rides have different layouts and sets, these new dolls and wheelchairs are designed for that particular version of the ride.

“I think that’s definitely something the original Imagineers would embrace, and it would be wonderful that we look at things like that,” Irvine said.

“We always strive to improve our attractions not only with fun things, but also with meaningful things. And to keep up with what’s happening in the world, and most of all, you know, to make things new.

“I know we never want our attractions to be so predictable that you can ride them with your eyes closed knowing what’s going on inside. We want to constantly surprise you with new things and important things, especially relevant things.”

Disneyland Resort Accessibility Manager Erin Quintanilla said it was a historic moment.

“I feel seen. I feel represented. It’s a monumental moment to see my community represented in an attraction,” said Quintanilla, who uses a wheelchair. “I burst into tears when I saw her in the attraction.”

Quintanilla said her team was approached by Disneyland creatives who wanted to add these dolls. Her accessibility team made sure the look was authentic, right down to the angle of the doll’s feet on the wheelchair’s footplates.

“We wanted to make sure it was a person in a wheelchair, moving through life independently. That’s why we didn’t want the wheelchair to feel like a hospital-style wheelchair. You’ll find the design aligns beautifully with a Mary Blair style,” said Quintanilla.

“But there are details of the wheelchair like a handrim so the doll can move through the story the way I move through the world. So it’s very special that those details are accurate,” Quintanilla said.

More changes from Disney

No new dolls have been added to the Disneyland version of this ride since 2009.

A “Spirit of America” ​​room was then added, including three Native American dolls and characters from the movie “Toy Story”.

More dolls of specific Disney characters have been added throughout the attraction.

As part of an overall effort to improve inclusion and diversity at its theme parks, Disney recently announced it is converting the Splash Mountain attraction, based on characters from Song of the South, to a theme inspired by The Princess and the Frog to change. with Disney’s first black princess.

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The Walt Disney Co. owns Disneyland and this ABC station.

https://abc7.com/disneyland-its-a-small-world-dolls-with-wheelchairs-inclusion/12444823/ Disneyland’s It’s a Small World attraction is adding dolls on wheelchairs to spread the message of inclusion

Laura Coffey

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