Design Behind the Scenes, The Making of it’s a small world: the animated series

Two months ago, Disney.com launched a new animated series based on the classic Disney Parks attraction, “it’s a small world.” As we watched this new show, we at the Insider became curious about what it must be like to be tasked with adapting such a well known ride while both paying homage to the original, but also introducing it to a whole new audience. So we reached out to the team behind it’s a small world: the animated series to get their take on it.


Scot Forbes, Art Director for Disney Interactive, sent us the following firsthand account of his experience on the project:


Scot Forbes, It's a Small World

It started with a meeting with a “simple” request:

“Create a cartoon based on it’s a small world.”

I walked away thinking, “Wow. This is a big deal.” That would be an understatement.

Starting off we did an exhaustive research of all things small world, old and new. We wanted to create a look for the series that was modern and fresh, yet still paid homage to the classic aesthetic of the original attraction, which first opened at the New York World’s Fair back in 1964. This research and development period included going to the Imagineering Archives to review original props and style guides, and even visiting the attraction in Disneyland for an exclusive photo reference session.

Luckily for us, small world was being prepped for the big Christmas holiday transformation, so it was completely drained of water, and entirely ours to roam through and really soak in the dazzling designs.

Each area or “land” in the ride has a clear and unique aesthetic. Each location has a different color palette, as well as distinct geometric shapes and patterns to reflect the culture it represents. For example, China has eight pointed stars, flowers, vertical lines, and is washed in deep reds and golds. Africa has bold diamond patterns and highlighted with lush sparking greens, bright orange and yellows.

While studying all the shapes and colors, it was the whimsical plaid hills of Scotland that was the inspiring “A-HA! moment” for the team. I knew right then we could really “go for it” visually.


Its A Small World Scotland Style Guide

Its A Small World Scotland Style Guide

Its A Small World Scotland


After the walk-though, I had a sense of where I wanted the look to go, and we began creating the series style guide with great enthusiasm. The character designs began to take shape, lead by countless adorable concept drawings by our very talented Visual Development Artist, Katia Oloy.

It all finally came together, and we knew we had a gorgeous final product. The whole team is very pleased with the series and everything that went into it.

When I ride it’s a small world with my young son, I see the big smile on his face. It gives me extra pleasure to be part of something so special to children and Disney fans all around the world. I am very proud to be part of continuing a legendary Disney experience.

it’s a small world: the animated series is a perfect continuation of the small world legacy: exploring new places, making new friends; a vision of world peace.


Watch the Scotland episode for yourself right here:

Posted 4 years Ago
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