Via Andrew, I see that Virginial Postrel is writing about Disney's attempts to revamp the "It's a Small World" ride:
Disneyland is revamping the "It's a Small World" ride to accommodate today's fatter passengers on its boats and, more controversially, to include Disney characters among the anonymous dancing dolls.
The family of the ride's designer, Mary Blair, recently joined fans in protest, sending a letter to the company denouncing the "gross desecration of the ride's original theme."....
"Small World" was designed for an audience that would rarely, if ever, encounter foreign cultures. Now it's a time machine back to a world in which international travel was rare and large-scale trade and immigration unknown.... Amid the complexities and conflicts of real globalization, the international appeal of Disney characters is as good a testimony as any that the children of the world really do share something in common.
I'm completely biased on this question.
The first and only time I ever visited the Magic Kingdom was when my wife-to-be took me there in my mid-twenties. The very first ride we went on was "It's a Small World." By the end of the ride I was so freaked out that I was convinced the dolls were whispering, "you must kill Mommy and Daddy" to the children. Maybe this is because I remain a Warner Brothers kid when it came to cartoons, but there it is.
I fully support anything that improves that ride, and I suspect Postrel is correct in arguing that the children would concur. Their parents, however, will likely rebel, because for them the ride is not about globalization, but nostalgia.
Question to readers: has anyone else had a bad Magic Kingdom experience, or does my reaction indicate the absence of a soul?