It's a Small World Holiday is an annual version of the attraction It's a Small World. Since 1997, Disneyland has featured "It's a small world Holiday" during the end-of-the-year Christmas and holiday season. The attraction is closed in late-October to receive temporary holiday decorations inside and outside, and reopens in early-November before the start of the busy holiday tourist season. The attraction is the same boat voyage through many regions of the world, though the main theme song is not played fully. Instead, the children sing "Jingle Bells" and a bridge of "Deck the Halls" in addition to the main theme.
The holiday overlay has since been implemented at Tokyo Disneyland with similar decorations, if not more, than the Disneyland version. It ran from 2003-2014 prior to the 2018 refurbishment.
Disneyland Paris' version used to add subtle decorations around the attraction and changed the music in the North American area to "Deck the Halls". For the 2009 winter season, Disneyland Paris has added "it's a small world celebration", a variation of "it's a small world - happy holiday" highlighting winter season frolic shared by people worldwide. It includes new costumes, lighting, sounds, decorations and uses a different version of the music.
Hong Kong Disneyland's "it's a small world - happy holiday" changes the music seasonally and subtly adds a few Christmas decorations. It only ran from 2009-2010.
Disneyland’sIt’s a Small World attraction didn’t change much from its opening on May 28, 1966 until October 1997. The sponsor changed from Bank of America to Mattel, with changes to signage and construction of a Mattel gift shop at the exit. The façade was given a more colorful paint scheme, inspired by the Disneyland Paris version. It was essentially just the same ride.
In October 1997, It’s a Small World closed for more than typical annual maintenance. Disneyland aims to boost holiday ticket sales with a holiday overlay of the popular ride. The first time since it opened 31 years ago, the park’s It’s a Small World attraction was going to be altered extensively to celebrate the holiday season, Disneyland officials announced Friday. “Basically, we will be adding a Christmas overlay to the existing ride,” - Michael Maines, director of entertainment creative development.
The attraction was closed for the alterations and general maintenance starting Sunday until the opening of the revamped version on November 25, 1997. It was planned to remain through January 4, 1998. Planned enhancements to the 12-minute ride, originally designed especially for small children, include choirs singing “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” instead of the original It’s a Small World and exhibits from various countries illustrating traditional children’s games and crafts. Animal topiaries were outfitted with Santa Claus hats and red bows. The 30-foot clock at the entrance to the ride received a giant-sized Santa hat, and new holiday themed clock parade music every quarter hour. The wooden dolls were also decorated, while the facade and clock tower were decorated with thousands of colorful twinkling lights, while the holiday lighting ceremony and the projection show didn’t happen until 2005.
On November 25, 1997, the attraction reopened as It’s a Small World Holiday. Guests enjoyed an experience that was simultaneously familiar and brand new. Disneyland got high marks for skillfully weaving the holiday theme into the famous attraction. The holiday version was supposed to end on January 4, 1998, along with Disneyland’s other holiday activities and decorations, to revert back to its old self, but its run was extended to January 25, 1998 because of its huge popularity.
Since then, It’s a Small World Holiday has become an annual tradition at Disneyland, which has been returning every year. (except for 2020 - 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) Because of the response of the holiday overlay at Disneyland, holiday overlays have also been added to Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and formerly Hong Kong Disneyland. Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World doesn’t do the holiday overlay, and operates normally through the holiday season all year.
As you approach the facade you hear a familiar tune, along with "Jingle Bells". Every 15 minutes a holiday projection show is projected on the facade. You board your boat and enter the welcome room, which now has a Happy Holidays sign. You enter the Scandinavia room which is now the North Pole. You travel through the ride and discover Chinese New Year, Jungle Jangles, and Feliz Navidad. You enter the Spirit of America room to see yourself in a country Christmas. Finally you enter the finale room and you hear "Deck the Halls". Everything is decorated with white garland and lights hang from the roof. You exit through the goodbye room, where the Postcards have been replaced with Christmas cards. You exit the building and catch the twinkling lights once more as you disembark your boat.
The exterior is adorned with thousands of twinkling lights. The clock has a Santa hat and some white garland and wreaths hang along the doors to the clock numerals. The bushes also have lights in them. There is also a projection show that happens every 15 minutes.
When it re-opened in 2005, FASTPASS machines were added. They have since been removed.
When the North America room was back then the Rainforest Room, there were giant black curtains that hid the scene and it was used as a transition room from 1997 - 2008.
The Hawaii room used to feature all of Santa's reindeer. Over the years it has been shortened.
In the Japan room of the Disneyland overlay, fireworks from the Main Street Electrical Parade's To Honor America unit can be seen. Considering how the original Anaheim parade (Version A) was scrapped for parts in 1997, these fireworks (built in 1979) were recycled to be used in the Small World Holiday theming. They, along with Casey Junior's drum are the only things saved from demolition.