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Disneyland Article
California vs. Paris: It's A Small World -- At Christmas
Hugh Allison
In an article for this very site, published August 2011, I discussed the it's a small world attractions in the Disneylands in Anaheim and Paris, mentioning that at "a more seasonal time of year" I would take a look at how their festive overlays compare.

For Christmas, both versions have placed a Santa hat on the Gregory S. Marinello-designed clock, but to the untrained eye, this seems to be the only amendment to the Paris attraction's exterior. The lighting on Anaheim's has a brash festive feel, especially at night, whereas for Paris it is equally animated but a lot subtler. The quarter hour show in Paris is the same models-on-tracks visual as the rest of the year, as opposed to California where, after dark, it becomes a Christmas-themed projection event. However, as the Paris attraction is sponsorless, whereas Anaheim's has had a large cash injection by Siemens-owned Sylvania, it is unlikely that such 3D projections will be added in France, especially as they already have similar effects being broadcast onto Le Chateau de Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle) on a nightly basis.

The exact names of the seasonal it's a small world counterparts (especially in terms of punctuation) seems to have changed over the years, but in California the attraction tends to become it's a small world Holiday, whereas in Paris it restyles itself as it's a small world Celebration.

The amended name doesn't show up on the park maps or in the safety audio, but all signs are changed. For example, in Paris, it is changed on the 3D model of a boat full of children sailing the world (which is a lot flatter and globeless in Anaheim), the sign in the arch above the entrance area, on the ride itself and on the miniature bunting which stops Guests getting off the boats too early.

The Disneyland Paris makeover is about the different ways the time of year is celebrated around the world, both on-ride and in the queue, whereas Anaheim's is mainly about making the attraction as festive as possible. In both instances, there are scenes where the seasonal amendments work wonderfully (such as Anaheim's Nutcracker), scenes where no changes have been made (such as the snake charmer section in both), scenes where the changes look forced (such as Disneyland Paris horse wearing a Santa hat) and scenes where the changes detract from the overall experience (such as the New Year references in the California attraction).

Languages aside, the music for the two are a very similar mix of the usual Sherman Brothers song with Jingle Bells. Until recently, Disneyland Paris also featured Deck the Halls on the soundtrack, but the audio mixes better without.

Overall, the California makeover works better, especially with the amended "Hello" and "Goodbye" rooms, and the Santa audio. Arguably this could be difficult with the language barrier, which makes it more surprising that it is California with the multilingual signs interspersed throughout the ride, wishing riders a Merry Christmas in different languages.

Personally, I find the Finale scene a bit garish in California, although it does feature some nice ideas (such as snowflakes, which fit in well with the white design) which could easily be incorporated into Paris. Conversely, the "three kings" in the Paris finale would work well in California.

On the whole, although most of the year I much prefer the more-immersive Paris it's a small world, at Christmas the California one wins out, due to thoroughness, innovation and variety.

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