By Trevor Pacelli
If you're like me, every few years growing up you would spend a good amount of time at a Disney theme park with your family, friends, sweetheart, or siblings.
You would always enjoy getting wet on Splash Mountain, singing "Yo-ho
yo-ho a pirate's life for me," on Pirates of the Caribbean, flying over London in Peter Pan's Flight, watching singing parrots in The Enchanted Tiki Room, and getting your picture taken with Mickey and Minnie. But of course, every time, you would either drag someone or get dragged by someone else to be subjected to fifteen minutes of riding in a slow-moving boat and watching a bunch of dolls in an abstract, colorful atmosphere singing the exact same song over and over again. Yup, you guessed it. It's a Small World.
Today, you could ask anybody over the age of nine about that ride, and a lot of them would admit to a fairly passionate hatred toward the classic Disney gem. "Why do so many people hate It's a Small World?" The most common reason is the horribly catchy song that's endlessly repeated and stays stuck when the ride is over, others say it's the creepy looking animatronic dolls that all look the same, Some would even argue that compared to other Disney gems such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, its level of texture and architecture is not nearly authentic enough. The list can go on for the reasons people dislike this ride, but the question I really want to answer is, "Why do I like It's a Small World when a majority of others hate it?"
You probably wouldn't expect a nearly 21-year old male to say he loves It's a Small World, a ride that mainly appeals to little kids and their parents, or even more so that I actually enjoy the song within the ride. For one, I actually understand the context behind the ride: Every country in the world is presented with representations of their people and culture, and
the lyrics combine with them to deliver the powerful message that all people and nations are equal, everyone experiences love, hatred, disappointment, depression, hopes, dreams, and desires, but our differences made us oblivious to that. I also like the ride because of the artistry and detail throughout. Sure, it doesn't have Pirates' ability to transport you to another time and place, or the Mansion's highly detailed technicality through special effects, but it still has the vibrant, colorful artistry of Mary Blair that inspires the young and the young at heart.
But I think the most significant reason I never grew to despise this ride is because it's one of those rides that accommodates for my sensory issues. A trip to a theme park can be both a thrill and a nightmare for someone like me on the autism spectrum--lots of people everywhere, loud noises all around, waiting in long lines only so the ride can break down, it can really be tough for anyone sensitive to sound, touch, or atmosphere. As I was growing up, I would avoid several rides such as The Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, or even The Haunted Mansion because there were many fast, sudden changes or unsettling moments that would overwhelm my senses. Therefore, I would always go on other rides such as The Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, or Buzz
Lightyear Astro Blasters, where I always knew what was about to happen. As for It's a Small World, it not only felt like a safe haven for me, but the many creative little scenes within the ride, along with all of the beautiful art and designs inspired me and made me felt like I was three years old again.
Could this be called a guilty pleasure of mine? Am I really too old for this ride? I actually doubt this very much. I only consider something a guilty pleasure if it's of very poor quality and not deserving of any recognition as something positive. To me, It's a Small World is a beautiful declaration by Disney that all people are essentially the same and if we were to open our eyes a bit more, the world would be a happier place. The same goes for anyone on the autism spectrum. Why can't people open their eyes a bit and see that those with sensory issues or verbal communication difficulties are really not different from them? For "there's so much that we share that it's time we're aware it's a small world after all."
Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.