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Disney’s “It’s a Small World” Gets Big Boost of Disability Representation

It took a quarter of a century… but one of Disney’s most iconic attractions, “It’s a Small World,” has finally made updates to embody disability representation.

On the cusp of the 25th anniversary of “It’s a Small World,” Disneyland Resort, located in Anaheim, California, added two new dolls in wheelchairs to further amplify inclusion on the ride which celebrates diversity among children from around the world.

“This is the first time someone like me is represented in an attraction at the Disneyland Resort,” said Accessibility Manager Erin Quintanilla, who also serves as co-chair of the ENABLED Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) that advocates for people with disabilities. “It’s a really big deal and this could not have happened without the amazing teams involved.”

It's a Small World at Disney gets inclusive design update
(Walt Disney World)

During the design process, Quintanilla served as a consultant to ensure that the dolls authentically represented wheelchair users. According to a company source, Walt Disney Imagineering performs ongoing reviews to identify if and when modifications, including inclusion and diversity aspects, are needed.

“This addition builds on ‘It’s a Small World’s’ longstanding legacy of diverse representation,” added Kim Irvine, executive creative director, Walt Disney Imagineering.

And while it’s much overdue, it’s clearly a step in the right direction. Approximately 1-in-4  Americans have a disability, according to the CDC, so this inclusive design upgrade will undoubtedly connect with many of Walt Disney World’s fans and guests.

According to the communications team at Walt Disney World, dolls in wheelchairs are slated to be added to the “It’s a Small World” attraction at both Walt Disney World (in Orlando) and Disneyland Paris in the coming year.

Nancy DeVault
Nancy is the managing editor of AmeriDisability. She is an award-winning storyteller passionate about health and happiness.

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