As part of its overhaul of the iconic "Small World" ride in Disneyland, Walt Disney Co. plans to showcase some of its familiar faces instead of an anonymous cast of characters. The company isn't saying how many characters will appear in the revamped ride or how prominent they will be, but relatives of artist and ride designer Mary Blair sent a blistering letter to Disney last week, berating what they called an "idiotic plan" that "represents a gross desecration."
Some fans of the original ride fear the changes are a crass attempt by Disney to make the attraction more commercial and sell more plush toys, dolls and other products. Many are posting plots and pleas on savethesmallworld.com and other Disney-related sites.
Walt Disney Imagineering spokeswoman Marilyn Waters says a number of familiar characters would appear in "stylized" form in the overhauled ride and placed into appropriate countries. The changes carry on Disney's tradition of "plussing" attractions, Waters says, and help enrich the storytelling and keep the experience relevant.