If the Sherman Brothers taught us anything in It’s a Small World, it’s that there is just one moon and one golden sun. And a smile means friendship to everyone unless you’re a mentally unstable Batman villain or a crocodile.
But will someone please call the fire department? I don’t mean to cause any panic, but we’ve got liars all up in this piece, and one Richard Mortimer Sherman’s pants are on fire.
It’s a Small World, very first room, right when you enter:
Hey, One Golden Sun! Or possibly a ninja star being thrown by reindeer. Either way, the Sherman Brothers nailed it.
Now let’s just circle around Scandinavia for a second…
What the heck is this! I thought there is just one moon and one golden sun!
This is our second golden sun, and it’s wearing a hat — which is how fashionable yellow dwarf stars like to appear in public. Apparently we’re not the only ones who enjoy looking awkward in It’s a Small World.
And a little further on, we have Don Quixote tilting at windmills in the foreground:
That’s like a whole ‘nother sun on the other side of the windmill. For those of you keeping score at home, we still haven’t left the first room of It’s a Small World, and already we have more suns than Tatooine.
Leaving the first room, we sail into India.
And from India, it is only natural to go to China.
Sailing out of China into Egypt, because I’m pretty sure they share a border. Note that here we get the first animated sun effect, a series of swirling light patterns.
This is also what happens to your vision if you try to watch a solar eclipse without looking through that little hole in the cardboard box.
It’s just a hop, skip and a jump to Latin America, home of the creepiest singing scarecrows this side of Oz. Note that we finally have a truly animated sun, with beams rotating behind other beams in a pulsating pattern, which I find kind of hypnotic.
And then on to Polynesia, home of my favorite Small World sun. I like how truly evil it looks (though not as evil as the horrible two-headed goat thing in the previous room). Clearly it is upset about the hula-dancing witches being burned at stake.
And finally the last room, which I always think of as Antarctica, mainly because of the cool color palette, and also because Antarctica is home to seven of the world’s top ten roller coasters.
Wow, that’s a lot of suns. Nine of them, to be exact — more than there are planets in our solar system (since Pluto recently got sacked).
So thanks for all the ruined dreams of childhood, Dick Sherman. Why don’t you go back to swimming in your big pool full of hundred dollar bills?
And hey, at least when you’re singing there is just one moon and one golden sun, at least you got the moon part right.
OR perhaps there’s just one sun and it’s a shapeshifter. It can’t decide how it wants to look, so it changes its appearance in every scene.
Okay, seriously, I think that Ian’s right about it being a motif.
If we want to get right down to it, I suspect the Sherman Brothers never even considered the ride’s suns when writing their song. It was just a theme of togetherness that we all share.
But I never let logic get in the way.
I can’t be the only one who thinks the last room is Antarctica! I mean, they’re all bundled up and stuff!
But I’m extremely happy that there are so many different theories about the suns. I like the comma theory in particular. And it is worth the laboratory time to see if any of these suns qualify as “golden.”
But I am a bit irked that Snow White Sanctum has got the Age of Aquarius stuck in my head now…
I think this is an issue that could be cleared up with an oxford comma.
“There is just one moon, and a golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone.”
In this version there is just one moon (which there is) and the two qualities and mean friendship are (1) a smile and (2) a golden sun.
The animatronic dolls need the golden sun and the smile, lest they turn on their friends and bedlam ensues.
It’s really a madhouse, believe me. You don’t want to see it. The Imagineers put the suns in each room so that the dolls don’t turn on the guests. Its a safety measure.
I never noticed the Dutch hat sun before!
The sun has got his hat on, hip-hip-hip-hooray
The sun has got his hat on and he’s coming out today
Now we’ll all be happy, hip-hip-hip-hooray
The sun has got his hat on and he’s coming out today
Terrific post as usual! The ninja throwing star is one of my favs.
By the way, I’m pretty sure that The 5th Dimension who sang the Hair melody “The Age of Aquarius” and “Let the Sunshine In” got their inspiration from riding “It’s a Small World” about a dozen times in a row back in 1969. 😉
Ah yes, but only one GOLDEN Sun. At least five of these suns cannot be considered golden under any circumstances.
Of those that remain, the one above Quixote looks orange to me and therefore not golden. Another wears a veil.
Leaving only two solid canidates for the legendary Golden Sun mentioned in the song. Of these, one is clearly hiding mechanical moving parts, which could be golden but are probably not.
I could be wrong but my suspicion is that the first sun is the only truly GOLDEN sun in existence but i cannot be sure without performing some sort of acid test.
This is hilarious! I guess that’s why you no longer hear that verse in WDW’s IASW : ) (or at least I haven’t heard it since the refurb switching the queue entrance.)
As for the heaven room, clearly all the dolls have died and gone to the big carnival in the sky.
Being a Mary Blair fan, I have her art book and she mentions that she thinks of white as a celebratory color and so since everyone is kinda having a culture party in the last room, that’s probably why there is a white color palette.
Wow. Ian really cleared up your misconception that the lyrics were literal.
I still like DLP’s IASW the best. As to how many suns one can find there – I am ashamed not to have the keen eye and admirable dedication of a Parkeologist.
I’ve always interpreted it as a motif. “The same sun, seen through the eyes of the culture whose room we’re in.”
Which, y’know, supports the message of “many cultures, one experience.”
And ultimately unified in the final room, which I’ve always figured is white, meaning everything’s bathed in moonlight.