Americans are getting larger. They are getting heavier, getting less active, and are living life to an excess at an alarming rate. We hear this all the time. Now, Disney is changing to accomodate big people.
Amusement park patrons have grown so large, that they are unable to fit into carts and are clogging up rides because of their girth. It has leaked out that Disney is remodeling the Anaheim “It’s a Small World” ride. Why? Overweight patrons are weighing down the carts and stopping/jamming up the rides.
A recent article had this to say: “When the ride was first created in 1963, the boats and flume of Disneyland’s It’s A Small World were designed for use at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and ’65. The Americans riding in those pastel boats almost 45 years ago were much slimmer than those boarding the same boats now. While the Disney operators try their very best to eyeball the girth and size of the riders coming down the line (and purposely leave a row or two empty on many boats nowadays to hopefully keep them floating) even those discreet tactics don’t always work with today’s riders.
The boats weren’t designed to handle multiple adults weighing more than 200 pounds, and they now routinely bottom out in the shallow flume and get stuck. The Disney Imagineers who designed the unique flume ride system for the World’s Fair assumed that adult men would average 175 pounds, and adult women would average 135 pounds. Needless to say, those 1960’s statistics are hopelessly out of date in today’s world. This same issue creates similar problems on the drops at Pirates of the Caribbean, or even on the older dark rides like Pinocchio or Alice In Wonderland as the more heavily loaded cars try to keep up their pace throughout the ride. But at It’s A Small World, the weight related problems happen more frequently.
When the ride jams up, a Disney Cast Member runs in to the rescue and tries to graciously help a row or two of riders to exit the boat at the nearest emergency platform. Once a few extra adults step out of the boat, it pops up an additional inch or two in the water and off it goes. Sometimes the heavy riders involved take it all in stride and can laugh about it, but many times the riders involved turn nasty and yell at the Cast Members coming to rescue them.
Since the waistlines of America won’t be getting smaller anytime soon, and the stuck boats at It’s A Small World are becoming more and more frequent, Disney planners finally decided they had to do something. The ride rehab has actually been in the works for several years now while the engineers hashed out the details of the new boats and the huge logistics of replacing the old flume. The new flume will follow the exact same path as the original, and it will travel past sets that are in the exact same locations. But the extra depth of the new flume and the added buoyancy of the new boats should allow for several hundred extra pounds of churro-loving park visitors to pile into the new boats before they bottom out and bring the ride to a stop.”