Your Souvenir Guide

Disneyland Ex Machina

It’s a small, small world of bullshit anecdotes

Chaiyaa Chaiyaa

Here we go again. Bob Welch, a columnist with Eugene, Oregon’s Register-Guard, writes:

A friend of mine once experienced the ultimate Disneyland fear: getting
stuck for an hour on the Small World ride. The theme song repeated
itself so many times that the guy was permanently traumatized regarding
international relations.

This is only the most recent appearance of the most persistent of the urban myths associated with Disneyland. The “stuck on It’s a Small World” story is the “call is coming from inside the house” of Disneyland horror stories, and it refuses to die. Every time a columnist or brick-wall standup comic needs a shorthand for “I went to Disneyland, but I swear to you I have a penis,” this workhorse is put into service.

Frankly, I’m sick of hearing it. If you hate the repetitive song or are squinked out by the singing dolls, fine. And if you’ve been stuck in the backup of boats near the end of the ride for ten minutes or so, hey, welcome to the club. But enough with this “My friend/cousin/tax attorney was stuck on Small World for an hour” crap. I don’t believe it ever happened. Generally speaking, Disney attractions are evacuated in the wake of a shutdown, and cast members mercifully shut off the music while they clear the ride.

I’ll tell you what. If you have a video of a Small World breakdown that is longer than a half-hour in length – continuous footage, no edits – I want to see it. I will eat every last one of these words with rooster sauce on ’em if you produce the film. I’ve searched the living crutons ‘n’ fondue outta YouTube and have yet to find a “stuck” video longer than three minutes in length.

I would wager that many of you have been stuck on It’s a Small World for up to 15 minutes. And I freely admit that those 15 minutes could seem like an hour. But surviving a real-time, one-hour breakdown? I should think that’s a story you wouldn’t waste it on your friend, the newspaper columnist who’s stuck for a lede on his Disneyland story. That’s a story for Guinness.




  1. Having been an Operations Cast Member for a few years, I can tell you that being stuck on a boat ride like Small World for an hour is an absolute possibility. Disney uses a “milestone” timed system whereby an attraction must be evacuated after a certain period of time, or at least is supposed to be, of course with managerial approval (which is often reluctant). I can’t remember the exact timeframes anymore, but it was something like:
    3 minutes: music off
    5 minutes: worklights on
    7 minutes: close the line
    10 minutes: “dump” (or clear) the queue
    15 minutes: evacuation
    and of course, once an evac is called, it can take 10 – 15 minutes before cast is in the water, pushing boats around. That’s 30-ish minutes you’ve been sitting there, and it’s pretty maddening. Factor in time to get boats to the unload points and unloaded, time to walk around the show building and get your readmission pass, and then back to the park, you can very easily lose an hour of time. On rides where you can actually walk out, like Haunted Mansion, it’s much shorter… unless, of course, you get stuck on rides with thousands of feet of track, like the Matterhorn or Spaceship Earth.

    Evacs are actually terrible from a CM point of view, since you’re really under pressure to go through the necessary procedures quickly and often times the guests are going bonkers. I remember some people standing up and shouting at me in their Pirates boat when I came to check on them, and one lady who was screaming “MY KID JUST SHIT HERSELF!” as I was trying to help her out of the boat. Ugh. I don’t fucking care, lady! Doesn’t affect my paycheck!

    However, I am totally in sympathy with your statement about the big-dicked men who act like they’ve been castrated by a Small World downtime. I think Small World is cute, and if you’re a reasonable Guest, seeing an attraction during an evac is pretty cool since you will probably never see it again.

  2. Hahaha. “My kid just shit herself.”
    Most guests I’ve been with during evacs have been pretty reasonable. There’s a what the fuck moment then a few jokes are cracked. A good laugh is had by all.
    On Space Mountain, there are so many goddamn APs now that when your rocket veers left instead of right after getting weighed, riders already know we got bumped from taking off because we’re too fat. It’s still fun to see a different side of Disney now and then.
    So you waste a little time getting evacuated from an attraction that went 101 with you on it. Big deal, I say. The average guest would’ve wasted that time watching HISTA anyway.

  3. When I was a tour guide I got stuck in the final scene of “it’s a small world” for 30 minutes with some annoying teenie bopper actresses, Tia and Tamara Mowery. It was horrible. This weekend my family and I will be riding the new “it’s a small world” as one of the very first families to see the attraction before its unveiling.

  4. If you wait in line for this attraction you will be subjected to the song over the outdoor speakers for upwards of 45 minutes. By the time you take your seat on the boat it will be too late. The damage has already been done.

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