How Cast Members Fixed “it’s a small world” Holiday After Flooding at Disneyland Park
On November 10, two days before “it’s a small world” was set to reopen with its holiday overlay at Disneyland Park, a flood was triggered during the process of refilling a flume, causing an underground maintenance room to fill with water. Ride control machinery and electrical equipment were submerged in at least seven feet of water. The ride remained shuttered as Cast Members rushed to fix and replace the affected machinery.
“When I first heard about it, I thought, ‘That can’t be right.’ You had to see it to believe it,” Joelle Medina, senior project manager for Facilities Asset Management, said.
Almost 20 different teams from various lines of business were assembled to get the attraction up and running.
Engineering Services Director Jason Lovelace said, “I asked the group to work toward reopening within four weeks. At the time, I knew that was unlikely due to the extent of the work ahead, but the team never blinked.”
“This attraction means Christmas to the resort, so it gave us something to shoot for,” Jason Tomlin, manager of Ride Control Engineering at the Disneyland Resort, said of his team of engineers.
As previously reported, step one was to clear out the 200,000 gallons of water and evaluate the damage.
A giant dehumidifier was lowered by crane into the maintenance room.
“I don’t think you could have planned this to happen at a worse time,” Tomlin said. While their teams worked on fixing “it’s a small world,” crews were filming for “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration” in front of the attraction.
Once they were able to assess the damage, it was determined what new parts were needed. Even spare parts they already had were ruined as they were also stored in the flooded maintenance room.
Of course, getting new parts was going to be difficult due to problems with the global supply chain. The team reached out to all of the other “it’s a small world” attractions at Disney Parks around the globe to get new parts as quickly as possible.
“It truly was a team effort with everyone focusing on the same goal,” Medina said. “It’s such an iconic piece for the holidays, and not having it would have been heartbreaking, especially after the last year we’ve had.”
While teams worked inside, more Cast Members were stationed outside the attraction pin trading, taking photos, and creating more entertainment for disappointed guests.
“When I shared with a group of cast members that we can now tell guests that the attraction [is reopening], they all lit up in excitement,” said Tyler Carter, production manager of Fantasyland Attractions. “Nobody thought this was possible, so it really is a Christmas miracle.”
“it’s a small world” Holiday was able to open on December 6, less than four weeks after the flood, meeting Lovelace’s unlikely deadline.