it’s a small world – our second article in the Disney Legends series!


In this installment of Disney Legends you will find out about the imagineers who had a part in creating the attraction it´s a small world for the 1964-1965 Worlds Fair in New York.

In 1960 Walt Disney was approached and asked to help with some attractions of the 1964-1965 worlds fair in New York. Walt was asked to create pavilions for Pepsi-Cola (sponsoring UNICEF), the state of Illinois, General Electric (GE), and Ford. Walt went to his best imagineers and asked them to help create these pavilions for the fair. The work done for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair required technological advancements, which they used to create new ride systems and animatronics, resulting in some of the best attractions the Walt Disney Company ever created. It´s a small world is one of the most memorable rides that you can go on in any Disney theme park, from it´s bright colors and fun scenes to it´s unforgettable theme song. Many imagineers were a part of the team, but several played important roles in creating it´s charm and magic.

Mary Blair was born in McAlester, Oklahoma, on October 21, 1911. After she graduated from Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1933, she took a job in animation with MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) instead of pursuing her dream of a fine arts career. In 1940 she got a job with Walt Disney Studios. In 1941 she traveled to South America to discover the spirit of Latin countries, which she captured in movies such as The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos. One day Walt, a big fan of her art, approached Mary and asked her to help create an attraction called it’s a small world for the 1964-1965 Worlds Fair. She created the colorful facade and the overall look of the attraction. Her style of childlike-art was perfect for the attraction´s theme. Mary Blair´s work can also be seen in the movie Alice in Wonderland, and in the Grand Canyon Concourse of Disney´s Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World. Mary Blair died on July 26, 1978, in Soquel, California. She was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1991.

Joyce Carlson was born in Racine, Wisconsin, on March 16, 1923. In 1944 Joyce went with a friend to Walt Disney Studios to get a job. She worked in the traffic department where she delivered supplies to animators. After she was doing that for sixmonths she was hired in the ink and paint department. Since she had steady hands and good eyes she did that job for the next 16 years of her life. In 1960 they began replacing the inkers with the Xerox electrostatic process, which transferred animators’ pencil drawings to cells. Joyce moved on to the Imagineering department (then called WED Enterprises). Joyce´s job in the Imagineering department was to put together the models for the attractions of the 1964-1965 Worlds Fair. She was among a select group that went to New York to prepare the attractions for the Fair. She was later asked to help bring the it´s a small world attraction to various Disney theme parks around the world. She moved to Florida where she helped maintain the Audio Animatronics figures of it´s a small world and the Carousel of Progress. Joyce also has a window on Main Street, U.S.A. dedicated to her. It says: “Dolls by Miss Joyce, Dollmaker for the World, Shops in New York, California, Florida, Japan & Paris, Owner and Founder Joyce Carlson.”Fifty-six years after she started working for the Walt Disney Company she retired in February of 2000, but continues to work as a consultant. She was inducted as a Disney Legend the same year.

Rolly Crump was born February 27, 1930, in Alhambra, California. He had a job at a ceramic factory but he took a pay cut so he could go and work for Walt Disney Studios. There he worked as an assistant animator on some of Walt Disney´s best movies. In 1959 he began working for Walt Disney Imagineering (then called WED enterprises).

Rolly helped create some of the best attractions at Disneyland including The Haunted Mansion and The Enchanted Tiki Room. With the 1964-1965 World´s Fair approaching,Rolly designed a kinetic sculpture tower for the exterior of it´s a small world. This sculpture, sort of a giant mobile, was called the Tower of Four Winds. Unfortunately, because of the cost it was unable to be moved to Disneyland. To replace the tower, Rolly designed the big clock on the façade at Disneyland. Later, Rolly helped with the original designs for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. In 1970 Rolly left Disney to help other companies with their designs. He returned to the Disney Company to help with the building of EPCOT Center in 1976 where he designed two pavilions: The Land and Wonders of Life. Up until 1981 Rolly helped with the expansion of Disneyland, when he decided to leave the company again, but this time to he went and created his own company called The Mariposa Design Group. In 1992 he once again decided to join the Imagineering team to do a refurbishment of The Land and CommuniCore (which got turned intoInnoventions). Rolly retired in 1996 and currently lives in Fallbrook, California. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2004.

Alice Davis was born in Escalon, California, in 1929. She attended Chouinard Art Institute in 1947. To start off her career she designed lingerie for women. One day she received a phone call from her former instructor from the art institute, Marc Davis, asking if she could design a costume for Helene Stanley to serve as inspiration for an animated movie, Sleeping Beauty. In 1963 Walt Disney recruited Alice to do some work for him. This time it was for the 1964-1965 World´s Fair. She and the legendary Mary Blair worked together to make the costumes of children around the world for the Audio Animatronic dolls of it´s a small world. In 1965 Alice took the sketches of Marc Davis and made the pirates costumes. When the attraction Pirates of the Caribbean opened guests were in awe how life like the pirates were, and how their clothing was so pirate looking. Another attraction that was at the World´s Fair is The Carousel of Progress, for which she also designed the clothing for the AA figures. Alice wed Marc Davis in 1956. He passed away in 2000, after 44 years of being happily married. Alice Davis still consults for Disney and makes special appearances at Disneyland events. She was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2004.

Richard and Robert Sherman are known for their music. Especially the little song that we just can´t get out of our head. During the thirteen years they were with the Disney Company they received four Academy Award nominations and composed over 200 songs. They wrote music for a lot of movies the Disney Company produced. When they left the company Richard Sherman said this about their career: “There´s a line in Mary Poppins that says, ‘A man has dreams of walking with giants to carve his niche in the edifice of time.´ At Disney, we walked with giants.”

Well, did you get that song out of your head yet? We have just looked at some more people from the Disney Company who are Disney Legends. All of these people helped boost Walt Disney´s creative team with the development of new attractions and kinds of show. They have left their legacy for all the world to enjoy in a simple boat ride through one of the most beloved attractions at Disney´s theme parks.

Please join us next time for more Disney Legends!

For more information about these people and the Disney Legend award, see the Disney Legends website:

16 year old Kyle Whitley made his first trip to Walt Disney World three years ago and was immediately hooked! Since then he has researched as many secrets of WDW as he can find and has become an active contributer on the message boards. He hopes to someday become a cast member, or maybe a chef, or both.


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