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It’s a Small World MAG
It was a parent’s nightmare. Relentless ear-piercing voices rang out as we floated over the unsanitary waters of a murky cave. Much to my family’s dismay, we were on the “It’s a Small World” ride in Disney World for about the tenth time. My parents were soldiers, toughing out the experience they referred to as the most annoying ride in the world. Jamie, my big sister, wearing the appropriate visor and fanny pack of the time, seemed content, though maybe a bit indifferent. I, however, being the ripe age of four, was enjoying every second.
We were circling on a track through scenes of multicultural lands with plastic children mechanically jerking back and forth. And, oh, the music. I just loved the cheery song playing throughout the ride and even had a copy back at home.
“It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world …”
Sure, it was a tad repetitive, but it was upbeat and the lyrics were easy for a youngster to remember.
My family and I were sandwiched in the middle row of the boat, which held about 16 others – mostly young children and their parents. Even if the ride wasn’t the adults’ idea of fun, they had to admit it was nice to be in an air-conditioned building after long hours in the brutal Florida heat. Of course, getting onto this ride had taken 45 minutes of waiting outside, but I had insisted it was necessary to go again.
I bobbed my head side-to-side to the song that I knew and loved so well. The odor of chlorine rose from the water, but as far as I was concerned, it was the smell of happiness. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on the bright displays before us – colored lights, towering mountains, glamorous palaces, glittering flowers, and friendly looking animals. There were even displays of faux food – plastic bread, pastries, and sweets that all looked mouthwatering. We were on a journey to India, Mexico, Hawaii, Sweden, China, and other exotic lands, with jolly child mannequins smiling and performing just for us, all singing: “It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world …”
Suddenly the unthinkable happened. As our boat began turning the corner to bring us to the next foreign land, everything turned black. The power had shut down, leaving our boat motionless in a dark tunnel, freezing the figurines, and silencing my favorite song.
“Ugh,” some adults sighed, grumbling softly.
“Oh, come on!” others complained to no one in particular.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” my parents muttered. Some of the children whined and yelped like they were scared, suddenly aware of the world’s dark side.
I abruptly stood up from my seat on the boat. I was going to have my song while we were on the ride, even if we were stuck, even if the speakers weren’t playing the music. I climbed on top of my seat and stood tall, looking at everyone on the boat.
“It’s a small, Small, Small, Small! Worrrrrrld!” I bellowed theatrically, getting louder with each syllable as I raised my arms over my head like a tiny diva. I made the last word extra loud and dramatic and let the final note linger until I was out of breath. I inhaled, and everyone was happy again, clapping enthusiastically for the cute little four-year-old.
My silly display seemed to lighten everyone’s mood. My family looked around with that surprised “kids say the darndest things” smile and sat me back down. Suddenly, we heard a click and our boat jerked slightly. The lights came back on, the music started, and we continued our journey to the next land, which I believe was France.
The ride ended with a happy display of colors and good-byes, and we still had the rest of the day ahead of us to enjoy the park. My parents say they will never forget how I stood up and sang to everyone. I haven’t forgotten either because it has become a personal reminder of how growing up changes everything. It is important to hold fast to childhood – when else can one sing a happy song in the face of disaster and receive an ovation from perfect strangers? But I had my 15 seconds of fame that day and I have nothing to complain about. Sure it was only in a tiny boat in front of 20 people, but as far as I was concerned, everyone from around the globe was there. It is just a small world after all.