Disney Creates “It’s A Small World” Animated Web Series

Disney Interactive is making a move into sponsored content. They recently launched It’s a Small World: The Animated Series, an eight-episode group of Web shorts that is sponsored by language instruction company Rosetta Stone and their new children’s app Lingo Word Builder. To date the episodes have been presented on Disney.com, Disney’s YouTube channels, and across Disney’s connected TV apps.

“At Disney Interactive, we’re constantly looking for new ways to bring fans closer to the Disney characters and stories they love,” said Mark Walker, senior vice-president of Disney Interactive Entertainment. “With It’s A Small World: The Animated Series, we’re leveraging the interactive medium to bring a classic Disney experience to life for a whole new generation. Rosetta Stone is an excellent partner for us as we share a common goal to inspire children by producing compelling experiences on digital platforms.”

The sponsored content model has gained a lot of attention in online advertising over the past couple years, but it is hardly revolutionary for animation. In the 1950s and ’60s, the majority of animated TV characters like The Flintstones, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Rocky & Bullwinkle were sponsored by corporate brands, and brand mascots would often be animated alongside the main cartoon stars. One of the biggest proponents of reviving the direct sponsorship model on the Internet was Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi who started pushing the idea as far back as the mid-1990s. It’s amusing to see Kricfalusi’s ideas followed to a tee nearly twenty years after the fact—and by Disney no less.

Besides the six internationally-flavored language-loving children who star in It’s a Small World, there’s also some unintentional branding going on, notably a hot air balloon that resembles Mr. Pringle and a bird who looks like Twitter’s corporate logo. Classic Disney characters also pop up in some of the episodes. Austin, Texas-based Powerhouse Animation handled production duties on the series. The shorts also feature original music by Richard Sherman, who was the co-composer of the ride’s original song “It’s a small world (after all)” that debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Disney produced one episode explicity themed around its sponsor’s Rosetta Stone name, which can be seen below:


  • http://pabster.tumblr.com/ Pabster

    This is sooo good looking. Who do I have to kill…to work on this or something like this? (I wouldnt really kill anyone, maybe, unless it’s part of the job)

  • Zekey

    I thought the sponsor was Pringles at first due to the face on the balloon. :s

    Also this is very cute.

    • http://jabrilmacktionhero.tumblr.com/ Jabril Mack

      super cute indeed! I dig it

      • John Richardson

        Brett Wharton-
        You forgot Toot!

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    I still prefer Mary Blair’s designs myself.

  • tom

    “it’s artifacts were studied and treasured”
    the meaning was long forgotten…but this actually translates to “stolen”.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Recall an episode of “Sherlock Hound” just now where they joked about who’s country should be the rightful owner of the Rosetta Stone with a whole bunch of characters representing different nationalities coming forward.

  • UsaMiKo

    Most of the the people who I’ve gotten respones from on how they liked the ride either said they were incredibly enchanted or thoroughly disturbed; so we’ll have to see where this goes.

  • https://vimeo.com/channels/wharton Brett Wharton

    It’s a pretty cool idea to use this style for an educational show, but the script was too boring… not funny, and kind of monotone. It makes me wish they could channel some of “Whistle, Plunk and Boom.” Nonetheless, I wish them luck.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      That would be nice but for what it is, it’s a start somehow (I’m sure Kimball wouldn’t had a prob. explaining the Rosetta Stone himself). At least it seems like it gives you something to think about afterwards. I’m a sucker for that.

  • CG Animator

    Wow, that was really cool! Love the designs and subtle animation. Kudos to Powerhouse!

  • http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com/ Cory Gross

    Breaking news, huh? They just finished the series a week ago, and I loved it. It was one of my favourite things Disney has done in the last year (along with the new Mickey cartoons… apparently Disney is rocking YouTube now). It’s a wonderful, charming little series.