A lot of important announcements were made at the 2013 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, but one that slipped into obscurity was the future “it’s a small world: the animated series.” Around November 2013, news started coming out about the upcoming web series and December saw the arrival of the attraction spin-off. After waiting months, “it’s a small world: the animated series” debuted on Disney.com, Disney’s YouTube Channel and the Disney TV Apps.
The web series, produced by Disney Interactive, was actually formed out of a partnership with Rosetta Stone, the software that helps people learn foreign language skills. Rosetta Stone has been working to better market their software to children and over the past year they have made several strides to accomplish this goal. Earlier this year, Rosetta Stone published Lingo Letter Sounds®, an app specifically designed to help kids start to learn words from other languages. Just recently, Rosetta Stone released a perfectly-timed sequel, Rosetta Stone Kids® Lingo Word Builder®, which is the exclusive sponsor of “it’s a small world: the animated series.”
“it’s a small world: the animated series” is set to have 8 episodes. So far, two episodes have been produced along with one featured short. The first episode, “It’s a Jolly Holi Day”, which debuted on December 2, focuses on the Indian culture as well as the festivities surround the holiday, Holi. The second episode, “Bricht and Braw” takes the “it’s a small world” kids to Scotland to learn more about the Scottish culture. In between the first two episodes was “Rosetta Stone,” a short that explained the history of the Rosetta Stone and how it helped to develop how we interpret different languages regardless of where we are from.
Although the series is still new, it seems like Disney Interactive is definitely on to something big. The series, which is inspired by the attraction “it’s a small world” and borrows art direction from Mary Blair, is being exclusively released to the web and tapping a market that is currently exploding with growth. It seems that more and more people are abandoning computers for tablets or phones for their go-to web devices and Disney is trying to tap into this trend and use it to their advantage. Disney has already had a lot of success in this field with their new Mickey Mouse shorts as well as their other web series, “LEGO Marvel Maximum Overload.” However, “it’s a small world: the animated series” is taking the format to a new level and expanding into children’s informational media with shortened four-minute episodes that pack a lot of knowledge and information into a very short time.
The four-minute length is long enough to get the information across without losing the attention span of the children that it is promoted to. If kids can’t remember a lot from the episode, they are sure to walk away with a few foreign language words from the closing segment, “Words with Wazoh.” Following each short is a prompt advertisement for the Rosetta Stone app, “Rosetta Stone Kids® Lingo Word Builder®,” but it doesn’t seem cheap and very quietly promotes children taking the extra time to learn a foreign tongue. In the background of each episode is an original Richard Sherman score that heavily borrows from the theme song that he helped to write “it’s a small world (after all).”
At this point, it appears Disney will release a new episode every Monday, but I would not be surprised if the “series” is extended or another season is quickly added on. So far the numbers haven’t been great, but it is only a matter of time before traffic picks up for the animated series. More and more people are switching exclusively to streaming content on the web and devices like the iPad are making it easier for kids to explore and find videos on internet. When children and adults discover this series based on the classic Disney attraction that also sneaks in popular Disney characters (look for Mowgli in Episode 1, Merida in Episode 2 and Chip & Dale in the Rosetta Stone short) it is sure to become a massive hit. If that isn’t enough, then Disney has also recently started to release plush dolls and other merchandise based on “it’s a small world” to really expand the classic Disney attraction into a mogul.