Inspired by Disneyland’s beloved attraction, It’s a Small World: The Animated Series, was developed in-house at Disney Interactive. My role as Associate Art Director expanded beyond providing notes on animatics and animation, and as such I contributed in our story and visual development teams.
I built a style guide that is inspired by the design choices see in the ride. As such, certain symbols and shapes, much like the ride, can only be seen in certain episodes, such as fish-scale textures in Japan, plaids in Scotland, and highly geometric shapes in Peru. I was greatly inspired by UPA-like designs of mid century animation.
The main inspiration for It’s a Small World’s character designs is the UPA aesthetic: clean and graphic shapes, and from the ride’s use of patterns and symbols.
I designed the children, who are from a variety of countries, knowing that each episode would have them in a new outfit, so in order to ensure they were easy to identify, I maintained their palettes and other distinctive visual cues such as vertical stripes for Ashley and two buttoned shirts for Harald.
Wazoh the Bird
The series’ unofficial mascot, Wazoh, went 360 degrees from the first drawing to a complete different direction exploring other colors and shapes, finally settling on a design very close to the original designs he had.
It was important for our entire team to be sure we were educated in our decision making, so I spent a great deal time on the research for each episode, which informed and inspired the creative decisions I made for the culturally-and-climate appropriate outfits I designed and then passed along to our production team. A specific attention to detail was made for the China where the number four is considered unlucky, and therefore our children could never be seen wearing four of anything (such as the number of buttons on the uniforms the boys wore).
A Successful Partnership Pitch
I worked with our Lead Producer to pitch the series to Rosetta Stone, which included development of sponsor-centric content. One of the most successful ideas we pitched came to fruition in the Rosetta to Rosetta episode, as well as the Words with Wazoh segments following each episode. This creative partnership has been celebrated by the executive leadership team at Disney.
Working with a Legend: Richard Sherman
The decision to keep Small World a peaceful place with no antagonists came after Richard Sherman, who co-wrote with his brother the famous song for Walt Disney when the ride was being constructed, also wrote our theme song, On Our Merry Way, told us that It’s a Small World was written as a prayer for peace, and was followed by the observation that the ride had no adults. However, we developed characters Mr. Balloon and Gale to serve as parental figures, or perhaps as grandparents, so that the world felt safe, and that there were no questions about why there were no adults in the show
Over 1,000,000M+ Views
Announced Officially @ D23 Expo
Featured on Cartoon Brew
Featured on Variety
Featured on Disney Insider
Permanent Home on Disney.com