'It's a Small World' turns 50 with global sing-along

| Friday, April 11, 2014, 8:11 p.m.

The timeless Disney tune “It's a Small World” that wafts through our memories from past theme-park vacations turns 50 this year, and on April 10, Disney parks worldwide hosted a global sing-along.

At Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a huge chorus of the song was performed in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.

Not that the parks are in short supply of the song on any regular day. Disney officials estimate that, during a 16-hour operating day, the song is played, on average, 1,200 times.

It was written by Richard and Robert Sherman at the request of Walt Disney himself. The brothers won Academy Awards in 1965 for the music for “Mary Poppins.”

The “It's a Small World” song and animatronic attraction debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair. It was shipped to Disneyland in California, then recreated at the other Disney parks. The attraction opened at the Florida park in 1971.

While some adults may complain about the infectious nature of the song, the gentle boat ride is a calm and air-conditioned respite from the crowds and heat — and little kids love it. With its hundreds of costumed dolls, the attraction was considered high-tech back in the 1970s.

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