The beloved Disney institution "it's a small world" officially opens today in Hong Kong Disneyland, with a twist. Joining the over 200 familiar Audio-Animatronic dolls are 38 Disney characters, such as Stitch, pictured above in the Hawaiian scene. Each of the new characters, who will reside in their "native lands" in the attraction (for example, Aladdin and Jasmine in the Middle Eastern section), is designed in the classic Mary Blair style to match the surrounding figures.
Word has also leaked that the Disney characters will be added to the original ride, which debuted at the New York World's Fair in 1964 before permanently relocating to Disneyland shortly afterwards. This has, of course, sent serious Disneyphiles into a tizzy all over the internet, prompting impassioned letters from both sides of the issue, first from the Blair family, and then from (quite unprecedented) Disney itself, by way of studio historian Dave Smith.
Personally, I'm not against the idea in theory (I love seeing the characters in "their countries" at Epcot), but the purist in me wishes they would leave the true "original" ride as is, and maybe just add on a "Disney character section". Or better yet, just add the characters in at the other American park, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which pales in comparison to the original any way. However, at present, there appears to be no plans to change the ride at either its Florida location or in Paris and Tokyo.