Wednesday, December 13, 2023

It's a Small World Clock, August 1966

I am going out on a limb by associating the fanciful mechanical clock on the façade of "It's a Small World" with Christmas. Because toys, you know? Here, let me explain it to you. Kids get toys for Christmas, see? Ah, what's the use! Nobody will ever get it!

I guess I need to just soldier on. I have some nice photos of the aforementioned mechanical clock, circa August, 1966, when IASW had only been open at Disneyland for about three months. Most of us are probably so familiar with this sight that we don't fully appreciate how wonderful and elaborate this entire façade is. As you can see, it was 6:45 - still plenty of daylight left in August.  

I just love the very "mid 1960s" style of this attraction, with all of those shapes and doo-dads that look like they are straight out of a magazine article about crafts (McCalls? Better Homes and Gardens?). Not the cast members in those cylindrical enclosures. If you happen to be there when the park closes, those enclosures fly backstage, Jonny Quest style!


Nanook said...

Thank you, Rolly.

Thanks, Major.

Lou and Sue said...

I love these! Thanks, Major.

JB said...

I only have one question: What does the Small World clock have to do with Christmas??? ;-p

The sunlight adds something extra to these photos. It makes the facade look especially pleasing, and it brings out all the subtle colors. I never noticed the harlequin on the inside of the Clock door before.

I was going to save the first photo but then I saw the second photo; it's even better! So I saved it. Then I looked at the first one again and decided to save that one also! I'm gonna run out of disk space, and it's all your fault, Major! Stop posting such nice photos!*

* Don't stop!

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm assuming if the attraction had only been open 3 months, that nobody had stepped out of a boat yet, and removed their clothing?

Anonymous said...

I really don't know the reasoning behind WDW NOT getting the wonderful facade, but when they tried to fix it decades later by putting in the dinky clock inside the queue, they only made it worse. Thanks for rubbing salt in the wound, Major!

Actually, these are fun! Thanks!

Stefano said...

This glorious facade, like a Louise Nevelson or Noah Purifoy assemblage sculpture done LARGE. When I was a kid playing with blocks, I often arranged them IASW style.

Two details: one of the melted gold rosettes is well displayed, to the right of the Eiffel Tower; and timing and the camera angle put a sombrero on a topiary bush.

Bu said...

It's odd that the Magic Kingdom would have not got this iconic and much photographed facade...perhaps it was to keep some Disneyland icons in Disneyland: like the Matterhorn,etc. It could also be $$$...perhaps it was, as most things are. It looks like the employees are leaning back in their chairs, much like they still did in the 80's. The costume looks simple: and perhaps they have a little sash around their waist (?) hard to see. This design period at WED was epic, with so many great things coming from it, and this design will hold up for another 100 years. Really, the only TRE is "exit through the gift shop", and the re-working of the queue..which I quite don't understand...and perhaps it is to support "exit through the gift shop". I do not enjoy "exit through the gift shop" in any iteration at all. Exit NEXT to the gift shop I totally support...through: "no". Gift shops can support the "show" IF properly merchandised, but not when I'm trying to get out of a ride and strollers are in my way. I would support "exit through the bathroom" more. How about just "exit to outside". That is the best. Thanks Major, Rolly, Mary, and Alice. There are probably others to thank as well....and perhaps the naked guy too...who gave it's a Small World a whole new meaning.

Lou and Sue said...

LOL! Thanks, Bu.

JG said...

Oh dear, these are wonderful.

Took me many years to appreciate just how wonderful all this facade really is, thank you everyone. But I have always enjoyed the ride and the music too. I guess I’m odd.

Major, I used to think the same thing about those bin-shaped watchtowers. Those had steep, narrow, and risky steps leading up. OSHA would veto now, and probably did.

Yes, “exit through the gift shop” must have been the reason for reversing the queue, and except for that detail, it does work better.

Disney should add a little naked guy to one of the scenes in a future refurb.



Because WDW’s Fantasyland was built entirely with European and medieval themed facades it was decided to not include the modern-esque Small World facade … WDW’s fantasyland art director WAS Rolly Crump . Also because of weather considerations it was decided to keep the attraction’s ride system
Indoors … however Mary Blair and Rolly included a beautiful and cool interior loading mural that featured the Disneyland facade shapes in color …. Sans the clock. The white and gold exterior was considered dated as this colors were popular residential and bank architectural colors of the early 60’s. WDW’s It’s A Small World was also called WORLD CARNIVALE until the very last minute …. In fact in the first printed souvenir maps and on the first editions of the maintenance manuals it’s labeled “WORLD CARNIVAL” …
The WED graphics production schedule for Floridas first attraction posters lists “WORLD CARNIVALE …. HOLD!!!! Awaiting revisions” …. Another interesting design element that was left out was an air balloon filled with international dresses kids … the same way the children are shown in the boat of flags in the Disneyland poster … in Florida originally this baloon with children would be seen throughout the attraction adding a new passenger until reaching the finale … a stylized amusement park all done in white and blue lighting with a all black background …

It’s hard for people like us with a historical understanding of the Disney parks and our aesthetic for what is considered classic .. but there was a time when the white and gold small world clock facade was considered DATED and TACKY ….The mine train thru natures wonderland BORING …. And Adventure Thru Inner Space … SILLY ….. by regular park visitors in the past …. In the 1980’s I can remember many times there only being a dozen guests in AMERICA SINGS …. And THE ENCHANTED TIKI ROOM ….. sometimes as time goes on even the most beloved attractions don’t survive the transition from beloved .. unloved … to classic …. This is the current fate of The Carousel of Progress …

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, Rolly Magilicuddy?

Lou and Sue, I’m aware that these aren’t *great*, but I appreciate the kind words!

JB, when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, they buy every toy a kid wants from the Sears Wishbook. Wait, what was the question again? You should buy one of those new computer with the holographic hard drives. You’ll never run out of storage!

TokyoMagic!, you make an excellent point!

Stu29573, I never understood why WDW didn’t get a facade that is even MORE elaborate, to be honest. Could it have something to do with the regular rains? Or maybe it was just budgetary.

Stefano, huh, I never thought about the comparison to Louise Nevelson before, but I definitely see it. I know we’ve talked about that melted rosette before, I’d love to know what the heck happened there. Space lasers?

Bu, true, perhaps (for a change) they actually thought about trying to keep each park unique, instead of having cookie-cutter attractions. I appreciate it, if true. I know that people on the east coast want a Radiator Springs Racers, and I understand it, but they have lots of cool things that we don’t, so I feel as if it is somewhat equitable. I think you’re right about the sash, and now that you mention it, I think that goes back to the earliest days of IASW. I’m not crazy about exiting through the gift shop either (just the fact that the concept has become a joke…), but that structure that blocks the front of IASW is particularly egregious. I never followed up on the naked guy, I assume that the poor fellow had mental issues?

Lou and Sue… and Bu!

JG, I think I went through phases; I loved the facade of “It’s a Small World”, and then thought it was “for babies”, and then loved it again. I’m sure that all has some deep meaning about my mental state. The music has never bugged me the way it bugs so many, I’ve loved it since I had the storyteller album when I was a kid. I was thrilled when I found an mp3 of it! You’d think they could put safer steps up to the “watchtowers”, but I guess the current versions are grandfathered in, so why change it?

Mike Cozart, that makes sense, I’m picturing the Disneyland IASW facade in The Magic Kingdon’s Fantasyland, and admit that it doesn’t really fit. Still, maybe they could have done something different, something more akin to the famous mechanical clocks of Europe, with a less overtly cartoony appearance, but still fun. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an image of the Mary/Rolly mural for the WDW version of the ride - or maybe I have. Maybe it’s hard to get a good picture of it. I’ve never heard of “World Carnivale” before, I kind of like it. The balloon is a fun idea too. Too bad they didn’t go through with it. I understand that tastes change for things like color schemes, and even entire rides, but it seems like, if they wait long enough, the tacky thing becomes beloved again. I’m such a purist that it’s hard for me to watch videos of the Magic Kingdom’s Carousel of Progress, even though it has been at that park for many decades. i loved the original!

Melissa said...

Anyone who doesn't understand what a work of art this entire attraction is can go drink a pint of pirate water. Gesamtkunstwerk, baby. GESAMTKUNSTWERK!

I've probably said it here before, but if I was in charge at WDW I'd move their version of iasw to EPCOT'S World Showcase and build it the facade it deserves.

These are gorgeous pictures. That blue sky sets off the color scheme perfectly.

Anonymous said...

I forget that IASW opened in 1966. As did New Orleans Square; while new Tomorrowland was nearly completed.
A large Florida Project was green-lighted. An entire City of EPCOT was designed and presented to the public.
Meanwhile, the ski-resort commissioned by the state of California for Mineral King valley was also well underway.
And Walt Disney was the grand marshal of the Rose Parade that year.

Creatively on top of the world, while reaching the end of the road. Amazing Man.


Dean Finder said...

Mike, it's sad that CoP is mostly a place to take an air conditioned nap these days, but it's neither forward looking with dated tech in the modern scene nor nostalgic with the original ending. So I'm not surprised it appeals only to a small fanbase (myself included).

When they finally decide to replace it, I hope it's rebuilt at the Walt Disney Family museum in SF.

Nanook said...

Thank you-! I couldn't remember his last name.

Lou and Sue said...

Wow! Major, did you make that ILL reference on purpose??

Melissa said...

I think the CoP has had a few minor changes since the last time I saw it in person, but at the time it sort of encapsulated and bookended the entire 20th century, which I thought was a nice historical approach.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I do understand what a work of art IASW is, but I don’t understand “gasamtkunstwerk”. Is it like “fahrvergnugen”? It’s an interesting idea about moving IASW to World Showace, but I wouldn’t hold your breath!

MS, while I did know about all of those projects, I did not really think of them all happening at the same time. Things were really cooking at Walt’s company! It’s intriguing to try to imagine how things might have gone had Walt lived longer, but of course we will never know; you couldn’t predict what he would do.

Dean Finder, air conditioning has its value, but it makes me sad that people don’t appreciate the charms of It’s a Small World. One of my favorite memories is taking my 8 year old niece on it for her first time, she was dazzled and delighted.

Nanook, I’m always glad to be helpful.

Lou and Sue, since I have no idea what you are talking about, I guess I’ll say “no”!

Melissa said...

Gesamtkunstwerk is just a fancy word for different art forms combining to make one cohesive work. Like in it's a small world where art, design, music, technology, poetry, philosophy, etc. are seamlessly united to support a single theme

Anonymous said...

What. Melissa. Said.


DBenson said...

Another thought on Disneyland's Small World facade. It puts a big visual magnet ("weenie") in the very back of the park, where previously there was just the Fantasyland train station. Where you used to think, "We've run out of park" you now think "Wow" -- even though you've still run out of park.

At Magic Kingdom it's on a sort of street surrounded by fairy tale attractions, so the exterior has to play down the size and stylization to make it fit. I say the mini-facade inside is an improvement over what was there before, which made the huge echoing room feel like an airport lobby. A nice airport lobby, but even so.