It’s an Accessible World After All: Dolls in Wheelchairs Debut at Disneyland

To paraphrase arguably one of the greatest earworm songs of all time, it’s no longer just a Small World, after all. It may also be a more accessible one.

Over the weekend, a multitude of news outlets, including CNN and the New York Post, reported that the It’s a Small World ride at Disneyland now features dolls using wheelchairs.

CNN reported that two dolls using wheelchairs made their debut when the Small World ride in Anaheim, Calif., introduced its annual holiday overlay. During the winter, when the ride is festooned with bright wreaths and sparkly tinsel, its ubiquitous theme song is replaced by Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls.

It’s a Small World is a slow-moving boat ride during which passengers are serenaded by animatronic dolls representing children from all over the world. CNN reported that one doll in a wheelchair is in the South American portion of the ride, while the second sings in the ride’s finale, where the children of the world are gathered together.

Judging from photos included with the news stories, both dolls are sitting in manual, self-propelled wheelchairs with handrims and no armrests… even if the seats do look a little wider than they need to be. The dolls will remain in the attraction, news stories said, after the holiday décor is removed.

The news reports added that the Small World rides at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and at Disneyland Paris will also be adding dolls in wheelchairs.

News agencies linked the addition of wheelchairs to Disney’s Reimagine Tomorrow project, created to promote inclusivity. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said on the Imagine Tomorrow Web site, “It’s very important to us that the stories we tell and the people who tell them fully reflect the rich diversity of our world.”


About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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