Like so many other attractions at Disneyland Paris, I think their version of “it’s a small world” is superior to all the rest.
Let’s start with the exterior of the attraction. The first IASW (“it’s a small world”) was in California. (Yes, I know, it was actually at the New York World’s Fair, but I’m skipping that.) This attraction has a sweeping exterior, wonderful topiary, and the Disneyland Railroad actually passes in front of the main building.
The exterior of IASW at Walt Disney World is basically unremarkable. Apart from its signage, there’s nothing about it to distinguish it from any other “dark” ride in Fantasyland. I will give the Imagineers a lot of credit. They did an outstanding job of reinventing the loading area a few years back. But it’s still has the least attractive exterior of the five versions of this ride.
IASW in Tokyo has a nice exterior. But the entrance and inside loading area leave a lot to be desired.
Hong Kong’s IASW has a decent exterior, but not as grand as California or Paris. The Loading area is nice, but nothing to take your breath away.
IASW at Disneyland Paris is closest in concept to California’s. It has a sweeping exterior, topiary, fountains, and the Disneyland Railroad passes by. I also prefer the pastel paint job, but I know many favor the original white and gold color scheme.
In reality, it would be difficult to say that the exterior of Paris is any better than California. Personally, I think it is, but for argument sake, I’ll call it a draw. But that’s not the only criteria on which I rank the French version of IASW as my favorite. The interior is definitely better than all the rest.
Your journey starts outside, under a covered loading area – and you stay protected from the elements throughout the entire attraction.
As you enter the show-building, you travel through a long tunnel. This is necessary as the Disneyland Railroad runs above this area. Along the way you see stylized travel posters from locations all around the world.
Q. So what makes the interior of this IASW better than all the rest?
A. The staging.
The same, simple dolls with minimal movement are all present. Nothing about these cute boys and girls and animals has changed. But the settings in which they reside have. All of the backgrounds are more elaborate. Most of these sets are still two-dimensional, but there are layers upon layers of cut-outs and colors. There are also more bridges and overcrossings to sail beneath.
Paris’ IASW was also the first to add scenes of Canada and the U.S.
Here is a picture of me wearing a cast member’s hat.
There is a cute walk-thru post-show near the exit of IASW. In this area, small TV screens are housed within various world landmarks and offer views of cartoon children communicating with one another. Basically, this is a commercial for France Telecom which sponsors the attraction. But since the theming is consistent with the ride and the videos are entertaining, it doesn’t smack of commercialism.
Across the way from IASW is “Pizzeria Bella Notte.” This is a counter service restaurant inspired by the classic animated movie “Lady and the Tramp.” The menu here offers pizza, pasta, and salads.
Sitting outdoors is pleasant when the weather is nice and a number of tables offer nice views of the parade which passes nearby.
Indoor seating is also quite pleasing and features an Italian theme. Be sure to look for Tony and Joe carved into two of the columns.
When the Mary Blair mural in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, California was removed, some of the broken pieces of tile were saved and have been imbedded in the walls here at “Pizzeria Bella Notte.”
Also in this area is an entrance/exit to/from Fantasyland via The Hub.
That completes my description of Fantasyland. Next stop, Discoveryland.