I know. I get it: this post has the beginnings of something from a Stephen King novel or a horror flick franchise. But alas, the chances are very good that you have been in the company of the terrifying dolls referenced here, as they are the ones singing and dancing inside the “it’s a small world” attraction in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.
(Cue the comments about “Disney World urban legends” and Walt’s head being frozen.)
But this is not a joke or a hoax or a TikTok trend or a YouTube challenge. The meticulously crafted dolls that make up the scenes inside the “it’s a small world” attraction have to receive annual haircuts to keep them looking their best. Read on to learn why this is an absolute necessity for the animatronic dolls from around the world.
The ‘it’s a small world’ attraction first debuted at the Walt Disney World Resort on Opening Day in October 1971. It’s one of those attractions that Guests either love or hate, and if they hate it, it’s often because of the tireless renditions of the theme song written and composed by Richard and Robert Sherman titled, “It’s a Small World After All,” played on repeat all the live-long day. It’s been estimated that the song plays more than 1,000 times–with no break–from early in the morning until well after Guests have left the theme park for the evening.
Disney refers to the boat ride as “the happiest cruise that ever sailed” and praises the attraction for getting Walt’s message to the masses: that it truly is a very small world when you stop and think about it.
“Sing along to the classic anthem of world peace during a delightful musical boat tour. Cruise along the Seven Seaways Waterway on a gentle 10-minute journey through all seven continents. Pass through vivid, fantastical scenes representing the iconic sights and sounds of dozens of nations. Behold a cast of dancing darlings from nearly every corner of the globe and watch as the Audio-Animatronics figures achieve universal harmony as they sing one song in many languages.”
Long-time Imagineer and Disney Legend Mary Blair was instrumental in the details of the attraction, as was designer Alice Davis. Under the direction of Davis, wife of legendary Disney animator Marc Davis, Disney seamstresses sewed costumes for every doll in the attraction. When the sewing machines were finally turned off, more than 300 costumes were at the ready for Cast Members to use in dressing the dolls–each one made from materials naturally used and/or occurring in the region represented by the doll on which it was placed, such as silks from India and wool from Scotland for the Scottish bagpiper’s costume.
But this lesser-known fact about “it’s a small world” has Guests feeling a bit uneasy about the attraction and has left others just plain horrified. TikToker @thedisneyparkers lets fans in on a little secret (or two) in this online video:
You heard that right! The dolls in the attraction have to have yearly haircuts so they don’t end up looking completely disheveled, and it’s no joke. The dolls’ wigs are made of yarn, and over the course of the year, the Central Florida humidity causes the yarn to stretch out, yielding the need for each doll’s hair to be cut and reshaped. You can see a close-up of some of the dolls’ hair here:
Yeah, I probably could have gone on living my life happily without knowing this creepy little fact.
The video posted by @thedisneyparkers also states that the dolls continue moving and dancing all night long, even after the music has stopped playing, the park is closed, and Cast Members have returned home. If we’re being honest, though, we never really believed the music ever stops at this attraction.