The Disney Diaries

it’s a small world

I’m back! Sorry for the long (but necessary) break. Over the course of two weeks, my entire family and I got sick and it was terrible. Worst of all, my grandmother got extremely sick and is still recovering. In honor of her, my next blog post will be about her favorite Disney attraction.

The Disney tradition you’ll either love or hate: it’s a small world. If you’re not a fan of the attraction because of the hundreds of animatronics dolls and the song that’s on loop and sung in like 50 languages, then I understand. It could be a lot at once; especially if you’re a first time rider. But if you’re a fan of the attraction, art and Disney history in general, then I suggest you keep reading.

The idea: of it’s a small world all started with the brilliant minds of Disney’s Imagineers at the 1964 New York World Fair. According to disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “it’s a small world was created for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Personally overseen by Walt Disney in support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the attraction was a huge hit for 2 seasons at the fair and was eventually shipped back to Disneyland park, where it reopened on May 28, 1966. In 1971, it’s a small world was recreated to become one of the Opening Day attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. Due to its immense popularity, the attraction has been replicated in every Disney Resort around the world and is considered a Walt Disney classic…”

The song: Famous composer and songwriter Richard and Robert Sherman (brothers) were approached by Walt Disney himself to create a song that all children could sing and remember. Although they were working hard on the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, the brothers created it’s a small world, which has become a classic that we all know and most of us love. The coolest part of the process would probably be having children all over the world record the song in their native language and incorporating that within the attraction. Not only does it create harmony, but symbolizes what we all hope for: togetherness and world peace (definitely a Miss Congeniality moment).

The art: Mary Blair and Alice Davis. If you don’t know who both of them are, I suggest you do some research on them. Those ladies were absolutely brilliant and talented and I want to be like them when I grow up.

Also on disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “With her distinctive use of color, geometric shapes and a simple, child-like art style, Mary Blair was known for her visual aesthetic—felt in every aspect, in every nation, of “it’s a small world.” As you glide through the many scenes, colored paper in bold hues vividly create collages of some of the world’s most beloved countries, giving you the impression of sailing through a classic children’s book…Under the direction of designer Alice Davis (and her husband Marc Davis), Disney seamstresses gathered and sewed every inch of clothing to create a faithful portrayal of each nation’s traditional attire. That’s over 300 outfits in all! Authentic materials were used for each region, from silks for the saris of India and fine wool for the Scottish bagpiper.”

So many elements and hard work went into the attraction and it continually shows. Regardless of how you might personally feel about it’s a small world, it’s a ride that shows culture and different perspectives. The first time I rode the ride, I was three years old. As a three-year old, I don’t remember much about my first Disney trip, but I do remember when I rode it the second time (when I was ten). Wall to wall colors and sparkle, props and scenery that represented various countries, and a boat ride that emerged me into a world of many different worlds. Looking back, it was my first experience with knowing about what made us culturally different and what made us the same. At the time, I’ve only known my own, which is Mexican-American.

I’m thankful it’s a small world continues to celebrate culture and differences. I truly believe it creates conversations and curiosity between children and for those who want to know/learn more about what’s out there in our world; like it did for me. The more we tell people and children about the joys and fascinations about other parts of the world, the more they will become accepting and understanding of traditions and rituals. It could definitely do us some good.

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The Disney Diaries

Snow White Grotto

Today, I’ll be posting a photograph of Snow White Grotto. While researching, I found this particular story of its development a fascinating one. Which for me, makes the grotto more significant.

It was the year of 1961 when Snow White Grotto was installed on the eastern side of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, near the wishing well. Before installment, there was an issue with the white, marble figurines themselves. It all started when these figurines were given anonymously to Walt Disney from Italy. Disney obviously loved it, but there was a problem with proportion: Snow White’s height was similar to the dwarfs. So, Disney gives John Hench (Disney’s Renaissance artist and a brilliant genius with many trades) the task of creating a solution while keeping their sizes in mind.

Due to Hench’s brilliance, he figured out a way to incorporate them into the park. In DisneyParks Blog, it states, “Then he found an ingenious and elegant solution. The major elements of the scene were scaled to create the illusion of distance and height and Snow White was placed at the top of the diorama, where she stands majestically above the scene. This created a forced perspective. Viewed from the adjacent footbridge, Snow White appears perfectly proportioned in relation to her friends. Hench did such a magical job creating the scene that two other Disney Parks have since incorporated the montage – disproportion and all – in their Castle forecourts (Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland).”

Additionally, the song “I’m Wishing” from the animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, plays from the grotto. Having a water fall flowing and the greenery that surrounds the place be the vignette to Snow White Grotto, makes the site serene and just as magical as Disneyland itself. Having seeing it personally, I must say it’s a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy the historic and artistic qualities in its entirety. With that said, if you’re planning on going to Disneyland soon, I highly suggest making a mini pit stop when you visit.

-Michelle

P.S.- For a little more information on the magnificent John Hench, please check out this link: https://d23.com/walt-disney-legend/john-hench/

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Disneyland, No.148, ca. 2017. Anaheim, California.

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The Disney Diaries

The Plaza Inn

I’ve been a freelance photographer for about 6 years now, and I must say that my love for photography continues to grow. I take pictures of nature, architecture, and different places or things in Chicago. Oh, and kind of obsessed with black and white photography.

Last year, I went to Disneyland in Anaheim, California for the first time and I absolutely loved. As a Disney fan, it doesn’t take much for me to love anything Disney related. But I thought that I would have had some conflicts having been to Disney World in Orlando, Florida multiple times. Just being at Disneyland and experiencing the more traditional side of Disney culture was such a beautiful experience. Hopefully, I’ll return soon; preferably around a holiday. With that said, this week on The Michelle Chronicles, I’ll be sharing a photo each day from my trip and do what I usually do: find some cool history facts and share a personal experience and/or reflection. Here we go!

The first photo of the week is of The Plaza Inn (shown below). Initially known as the 1890’s themed restaurant, The Red Wagon Inn (1955-1965), was refurbished to The Plaza Inn; the restaurant for elegant and sophisticated dining (1965-today). Located in the beloved Main Street U.S.A (which I believe is the heart of Disneyland), it still remains one of the most popular places to eat. So when I went, I had to eat there!

The moment you walk inside, you are transported to the Victorian era. From disneyexaminer.com, I believed they summarized The Plaza Inn’s surroundings the best. It states, “The restaurant features a Victorian stained-glass ceiling which is known as “Tiffany-Style paint.” Its marble foyer and ornate gingerbread woodwork were salvaged from an old home in the St. James Park neighborhood. The restaurant’s soda machines appear to be made of bronze, but are really made out of wood. The cabinets in Plaza Inn originally had Lillian Disney’s personal belongings stored in them.”

You feel that sense of elegance and authenticity from the moment you walk in. The curtains, chandeliers, and marble floors are just some of the interior standouts. My favorite feature is the view from the windows. You’re able to see their tables, chairs, and the sea of pink umbrellas, along with the joyous guests that sit under them. On top of that, the beautiful sights of Main Street U.S.A.

The food was fantastic. My mom, sister, my cousin and I went there for their character dining for breakfast. It’s served buffet style, meaning once you are seated at your table, you’re able to get a plate, go to the different food stations of your choice, and indulge in delicious food . The Disney breakfast must have(s): french toast, bacon, and Mickey waffles. Overall, I loved The Plaza Inn and the history it continues to hold and share with guests who visit. I’m already looking forward to my next breakfast there.

-Michelle

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Disneyland, No.65, ca. 2017. Anaheim, California.

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