ANAHEIM, California –
Disneyland on Friday added two new characters in wheelchairs to its iconic attraction “It’s a Small World,” saying it wanted to “more accurately represent diversity around the world.”
The cartoon dolls are among about 300 dolls dressed in costumes representing singing children from many countries present in the attraction. One was in the Latin American sailing section and the other appeared in the finale.
The dolls were released on the first day of the Christmas season at Disneyland. Each year, the park adds special holiday decorations and Christmas carols to the ride, opening at Anaheim Park in 1966 after an appearance at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York.
The new characters will remain after the seasonal decor is removed around January.
In a statement, Disneyland said it was part of an ongoing effort to enhance the attractions “to reflect a more accurate representation of diversity around the world.”
While the ride features special boats designed to accommodate guests using wheelchairs, it’s the first time in Disneyland’s 67-year history that an attraction has featured a wheelchair-bound character.
It took more than six months to design and create the dolls, in collaboration with a Disney unit in charge of park accessibility.
Erin Quintanilla, Disneyland Resort’s accessibility manager, said the designs sought to combine authenticity with the playful, colorful style of the original standing dolls.
According to CNN, the seats feature details such as push rims “so that the doll can move throughout the story the way I move around the world”.
Quintanilla, who uses a wheelchair, said: “I felt seen. I felt represented. It was a great moment when my community was engaged and represented.” “I was in tears when I saw them in the attraction.”
Similar dolls will be added next year in the “It’s a Small World” game at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Paris.
Disney has added characters to “It’s a Small World” in the past. A new “Spirit of America” scene was added in 2009 that included Woody and other “Toy Story” characters along with dolls in Native American costumes.