It’s A Small (and Haunted) World After All

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.

swOn 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.

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8 thoughts on “It’s A Small (and Haunted) World After All

  1. No way! I had no idea that people were having these haunted experiences on this ride! This is especially creepy to me becasue I distinctly remember going on this ride when I was younger. I also remember the ride breaking down during my turn on it. However, I think I had my eyes closed as we sat there in the dark so I guess I didn’t notice anything strange happen.

  2. Although I have only been the Disney World once (when I was only 4 years old), you DEFINITELY scared me away from it forever. What did the company ever say to the passengers on the ride when it broke down? Why is it so commonly breaking down? I truly wonder what on earth Disney World is doing about all these horror stories pertaining to their rides. I wonder if eventually the haunted aspect will start affecting business. Great story, I truly enjoyed reading it!

  3. I’ve heard those stories before! I remember the ones about the Haunted Mansion being actually haunted the best, but I do believe I’ve heard about the Small World ride being haunted before as well. I remember reading about it when I was ten or so, so these stories must’ve been around for a while. I can’t imagine that they’d ever affect the business, since Disney is so huge – it’s hard to imagine anything taking that park down! But you definitely just gave me another reason to avoid that ride if I ever make it to Disney (and not just because of the song!)

  4. My grandparents got stuck on this ride as well and to this day they have PTSD-like symptoms if they hear the lyrics to the song. However, they were just stuck in their little boats which the song played over and over again; the lights did not go off and no dolls waved at them. There’s something so scary about things that are meant for children gone wrong. I think this is why people get scared of dolls or clowns, for example. These are things meant to be childish and fun, but when those go south it creates a very eerie situation. I got stuck on the Splash Mountain ride at Disney World literally right before we were supposed to go down the long slide into the water…maybe Disney can work a bit on fixing their rides. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow I will definitely have trouble sleeping after that one. This is one of the scariest stories I have ever heard – and the fact that there was an article confirming your beliefs makes it even scarier!! I really felt like I was right there with you in the ride when reading this story. Something about amusement park rides is just inherently scary to me — the fact that anything could be happening and you are just strapped in there, stranded, until the ride is over and there is nothing you can do about it is so unsettling.

  6. I have never been to Disney do I don’t know really anything about this ride. That is so creepy that the doll waved. I said it before in a few other posts, dolls are so creepy. What was Disney thinking when they decided to put so many dolls on the ride?

  7. OMG! This is so crazy because that ride is my absolute favorite. I never thought about the dolls being haunted but once when my family was on it we realized one of the signs at the end of the ride was just randomly placed there with all the other jolly ones, it was some kind of curse word like “fuck you” or something just very out of place. we decided to go back on the ride and double check and this time my dad took a picture. He asked one of the workers why that was there when we had exited the ride and he said he had never noticed it before. That always seemed so strange to me but i never even thought about it being haunted till now.

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