Tired of waiting in lines at amusement parks? So was Steve Dobbs of Fullerton, California. More than that, though, the loving grandfather wanted his grandchildren to have a reason to come over to his house and spend time with him. Living so close to the Happiest Place on Earth in Anaheim, he could feel the pressure building that somehow, he needed to outdo Disneyland’s magical allure. Dobbs told the OC Register that “Disneyland is tough to compete with,” but he wasn’t going to give up.
With his 30 years of experience as an aerospace engineer for Boeing, Dobbs began tinkering around with old Madame Alexander dolls that his wife was planning to throw out. Once he attached motors to them and affixed them inside a tunnel (whose walls were made of completed Christmas jigsaw puzzles), he noticed the dolls had a special “It’s a Small World” quality about them. He built a train track for the children’s electric Thomas the Tank Engine cars to ride on. Seeing his grandchildren’s delighted faces, Dobbs was inspired to keep building.