Out: Disneyland Rainforests. In: Freedom Land!

It’s not the first time Disney has unceremoniously cut the work of once-beloved 1940s feminist Mary Blair (Tomorrowland, ironically, is long gone), but making her Small World smaller will leave a lasting scar.

More after the jump…

Blair, known for her colorful, geometric designs and the sets she created for Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and other post-war confections, also designed the UNICEF benefit ride It’s a Small World, for the 1964 World’s Fair.

[Cocktail party trivia: That annoying song was developed as a last minute workaround, after the original plan to have each cute world character sing its own country’s national anthem turned out to create a terrible din.]

A Disneyland staple ever since, the ride is now undergoing corporate “improvements.” And what improvements might warrant the destruction of the Tiki-masked drummers and umbrellaed crocodiles in her New Guinea rainforest sequence, you ask? Why, Mickey Mouse and a ‘Yay, America’ sequence, of course!

From the Pixar/Disney Reimagineering blog:

“It’s hard enough to stomach the addition of completely out of place Disney characters in this visionary gem of an attraction, harder to fathom the removal of the rainforest sequence, but all out infuriating that it will be replaced with a loud, garish, tacky and aggressively incongruous Hooray for U.S.A. set piece.”

Mutinous imagineers are calling for a “Save Our Rainforest” campaign, complete with “tee-shirts, wristbands and a countdown clock.”

Still not sure you know Blair’s work? Go watch the opening credits of Ratatouille and Monsters Inc., each one an homage to her whimsical, modernist style. Better yet, go see the just-extended Mary Blair exhibit at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, where the curlicued lion she drew for her son’s 1950 birth announcement shares wall space with her color designs for Fantasia and Cinderella.

Blair, one of the first women hired as a concept artist for Walt Disney and a working mother in a industry where that was a particularly rare breed, deserves better treatment than this.


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