I have only been to Disney World one time as an elementary school child. I remember being excited in the year or so leading up to our trip and poring over books and travel guides of places I imagined we’d visit. After a hellish two-day car ride from Michigan, we made it to Florida. And it really was magical. We went on a lot of rides, as one does, but we never did go on the It’s a Small World attraction. I hear we may have not missed out. What with the repetitive theme song and being trapped on the ride, it must have seemed like some high concept torture device for the parents that had to endure that. Luckily, It’s a Small World from Funko Games forgoes the music and brings the appeal of an amusement ride attraction to the table for families of kids four and up to enjoy.
It’s a Small World is a fairly simple game. Players will divide into two teams and are trying to find matches between the cards in their hands and the colorfully busy scenes their boats are passing by, all before players reach their predetermined sunset. Once this happens, teams will total up their cards and whichever team has the most, wins.
Turns are at a kid-friendly level. Teams will do three things: move, draw, and score. On their turn, they will move their boat forward one space on their path, drawing however many cards the space indicates. Each card will have a character or animal on them from various scenes, which they will try to match to their current scenes near their boat. Any card matches will be added to a team’s pile to be counted at the end of the game.
Teams may also draw one of the other types of cards in the game deck. The first is a “flip the scene” card, which allows a team to rotate a certain number of scenes to hopefully find some more matches with cards they have. The second is a Clock Tower card, which moves the Clock Tower counter closer to the ending. It’s recommended to have the game end once the Clock Tower reaches six, but you can also stop the game at five or seven, depending on the desired length. Additionally, if parents want to play cooperatively with their kids without a second team, they can do this, trying to match twenty cards before the end.
After I set this game up for the first time, I was taken aback. This is a really gorgeous looking game. Not just for a kids game, I mean, any game. It has a great table presence with big, colorful scenes of different places around the world, each with a distinct color scheme and look. The iconic Clock Tower from It’s a Small World rotates around to show how late in the day it is, letting players know if the game is almost over. The game’s look as a whole feels like a labor of love, which is not something I thought I would ever say about a children’s game.
Were these touches of detail needed? No, but it added to the feeling that I was setting up an amusement park ride on my table and something the kids would be attracted to. Because the board and scene components are bigger to accommodate being able to more easily see the pictures, it’s helpful to know that this takes a lot of table space so this might be something you’ll need to consider before you buy it.
Ok, I know looks aren’t everything, so how does the game play? Keeping in mind that this is a game for younger children, I think it’s very appropriate and fosters opportunities to work as a team. It’s not rules heavy or strategic, cause, ya know, it’s for kids. So if you’re turned off by that, well, then you’re probably the wrong demographic to be playing it. But for families with young kids, I’d say between four and eight, this is a good game to either play together or in teams. My daughter really loves mom at the moment, so of course, she picked her. But it was a really nice way for us to play a game as a family.
This is more of a neutral observation, but I would have liked to see a little more interaction. It’s a Small World is a very low-key, slower-paced game. I like games that give kids the opportunity to make choices and show autonomy. Some kids want to be more hands on with their games. With It’s a Small World, they aren’t rolling a die to move their boats; they just are told to move it one space each turn. They will be looking at four scenes for a few turns, unless they can flip the scene. These boards will be what they’ll interact with most, although they can rotate the Clock Tower face around when those cards come up. So, it’s not to say there aren’t things a child can do in the game; I just wish there were a few more hands-on opportunities.
It’s a Small World offers your family a beautiful game to play. It will feel in some ways like they are enjoying a little bit of the Disney experience in the comfort of their own home. While it doesn’t give kids a lot of hands-on, decision-making space, it’s an enjoyable opportunity for a young family game night, where they can play and work together, discovering new lands and people.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A gorgeous tabletop experience of a Disney ride for young families
• Could be slower-paced and less hands on than some prefer