In preparation for the upcoming World’s Fair, Walt Disney sits with a group of men to discuss the UNICEF project that will be highlighted at their pavilion. After some debate Walt decides to offer the project to one of his favorite artists, Mary Blair. Working in her studio on Long Island in New York, the quiet and fashionable yet assertive Mary recalls her early days growing up in Oklahoma and the influences she had, namely her father and her aunt. Coming out of her memory trance, Mary walks downstairs to prepare dinner for husband Lee and sons, Donovan and Kevin. Out of the blue, Mary receives a call from Walt’s office. Walt Disney would like to offer Mary a job designing a ride with a Children of the World theme. After a time of deliberation and the cross and jealous behavior of her husband, Mary finally decides to take the job after some convincing by her son. She’s off, back to California and the studio that started her career.
Upon arriving at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank and throughout the story, Mary reminisces about her early life and the life she had when she worked at the Disney studios. Walt greets Mary and whisks her away to his office and the group of men she is to convince she is the right one for the job. As before, Mary is met with doubts from the men, especially one in particular, Jim Berns. A corporate-minded man, Jim has been with Walt for years and has always pushed him in the direction of the logical, male-centric decision. Nevertheless, Walt wants Mary and her concept for the ride is met with enthusiasm. On her team will be her friends Marc and Alice Davis along with a newcomer and corporate first choice, Roland “Rolly” Crump whom Mary has an immediate connection. That night Mary meets with Alice and Marc for drinks. They remember their work together on different films and eventually bring up the rocky shape that Mary and Lee’s marriage is in. As she is getting in her car to return to her hotel, Mary recalls the early days of her relationship with Lee and how happy they were. From their wedding day, to their first apartment, she remembers working as an artist at home while Lee went to work at Disney studios. Throughout her time working on what will become known as “It’s a Small World” for the World’s Fair, Mary also thinks back on the struggles she had being taken seriously surrounded by different men at Disney. From her time when she walked into Disney and demanded that Walt take her with him on their South American trip to most recently when Mary decided to leave the studio to work with her husband and be the wife and mother she always dreamed of being at the urgency of Lee, Mary reflects on her life and how all the sequences have brought her to where she and Lee are. Her project opens at the World’s Fair and Mary, Lee, Donovan and Kevin spend a day at the opening. But just as things seem to be looking up for Mary, Donovan has a severe episode at home and is taken to the hospital. She and Lee find out Donovan has schizophrenia and needs to be hospitalized. Lee’s drinking has gotten out of control and finally, Walt dies of cancer shortly after the dedication of “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland. The projects that were promised to her are forgotten about due thanks to Jim Berns and Mary falls into a deep depression. Drinking all the time, Mary secludes herself inside her house and studio wasting away. Suddenly, she receives a call from Marc Davis. She is to work on a new project for Disneyland and after that, the new Walt Disney World. After the unveiling of her new murals in Tomorrowland, Mary and Lee travel to Anaheim to take in her work. After a moment of reconciliation with Lee, Mary takes a tour alone through Walt’s Fantasyland and to her “It’s a Small World”. She gazes upon her work with a smile on her face. Her adoration is cut short by Jim Berns who proceeds to remind Mary, in so many words, who is boss. Having lived now through countless struggles and pains she finds the words to tell Jim how wrong he is and how important people like her are. She walks away, confident that she told Mr. Berns what-for in the most poised and dignified way she could.
Years later, at an anniversary celebration for her sister Margaret, Mary and Lee dance to the slow theme of “It’s a Small World.” Mary later dies of a cerebral hemorrhage due to alcoholism. Her life lives on through her art and contributions to mid-century modern design. She is made a Disney legend in 1991 but is always remembered as the creator of “It’s a Small World.”