By: Kelly Wilton
Disney World, also known as “the happiest place on Earth,” is hardly what many people think of when it comes to horror. As a person who has grown up going to Disney World almost every year, I have had my fair share of experiences on different rides at the park. I have been on many broken down rides which is always a bit strange, but nothing compares to one experience I had when I was about 10 years old. My family and I were getting on a ride called “It’s A Small World.” For people who have never heard about this ride, it is located in the Magic Kingdom park and is essentially a boat ride that takes you through displays that represent different areas of the world. All of these displays include dolls, which if you find dolls scary, can already be a little unsettling, but the dolls never had really bothered me on my prior experiences on the ride. Another important feature of the ride, and a big reason why I try to avoid going on it, is the song they play. It is a constant repeat of the words “it’s a small word after all” that will inevitability get stuck in your head all day long.
On this specific experience on the ride, we started off the ride just as any other time I had been on it. We were making our way through when all of a sudden our boat came to an abrupt stop, swinging my 10-year-old self right into the seat in front of me. I looked around and the moving dolls began to slow down around us. The music also began to slow down and everything appeared normal, just as any ride would be when it is broken down. Then all of a sudden the music began to speed up a bit, but still not to normal speed. The volume went up and the sound that came out was screeching the words “it’s a small world after all.” This definitely gave me an uneasy feeling. I looked over to see a conveyor belt of dolls that had stopped completely. One of the dolls on the lineup seemed to be looking directly at me and then as I was staring it down, the hand came up and waved slowly back and forth. Just a moment after, the lights went dark, resulting in screams all around, including myself. I grabbed my mom’s arm and she told me I was ridiculous about seeing the doll move, but to this day I am confident that the doll waved while the rest of the dolls were clearly not operating. Soon after, the lights went back up and the ride proceeded as normal, but I was too freaked out by it all to enjoy any of it.
For the most part I had forgotten about my experience on the ride, until I came across an article a few years back that mentioned something about the “It’s a Small World” ride being haunted. As soon as I saw that, I googled and found story after story of strange experiences on the ride. Even workers have said that they have seen dolls moving at night when the ride is shut down. There are also countless stories of ghost encounters on other rides in Disney, like the Haunted Mansion, and you can read more about them here. To this day, I refuse to go on “It’s a Small World” partly because the song drives me insane, but mostly because I can’t look at the dolls after my experience. It seems even “the Happiest Place on Earth” cannot keep out the horror.