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Disneyland Upsizes Rides - END OF THE WORLD

Whew boy, this is a fun one to follow.

Per this Disneyland fan site (who knew?), Disneyland is revamping its It's a Small World ride - a water ride - for renovations. The boats and flume were designed in 1964 and 1965. It was designed with the assumptions that male riders would be 175 pounds, and females 135. That was a long time ago and thus, the new ride will apparently support everyday, normal folks now.

But, follow this. That side - MiceAge - has one nasty fat comment at the tail end of the otherwise not-that-fat-negative piece:

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.

"Churro-loving park visitors?" Gah.

So. This piece then got picked up by a weight loss site which I won't link here. They claim to be a news site (and frankly, they're about as much a news site as we are here). Since they're for weight loss, they piled on the anti-fat attitudes. And since they're a news source (cough!), they're in Google News.

Which meant that the writers of Consumerist found the piece and added even more fat bashing! Woo. The comments there are 99% crap outside of one peggynature (go!)

Overall the truth of the matter is that this is good news. Disneyland is actually taking a step - albeit a baby step - towards making their rides equally accessible and accommodating. And yet, that very action is so threatening to so many anonymous commenters on the internet that they're willing to go so far as to... post... comments about it. But man, why are they so incredibly angry?

Fat Girl Off a Bike | Pixar: We're All Just Fat Blobs

rebelle October 29th, 2007 | Link | "Churro loving"? So, even

"Churro loving"? So, even racism is OK, as long as you are using it to also make a fat joke?
I agree this is a silly comment. As to why they are so angry, that's the $64K question. My best guest is, they HAVE to believe there's something "wrong" with, something inferior about, something immoral about being fat in order to feel better about themselves. Nobody likes to give up top dog status; it's as if they are afraid that, by acknowledging us as human beings, that's exactly what they lose.

strawberry October 30th, 2007 | Link | There's an angry reaction

There's an angry reaction toward EVERYthing that's done to accommodate fat people. It's not just amusement park rides. It's everything from chic clothing to coffins to seats in movie theaters to appropriate medical equipment.

sarahj October 30th, 2007 | Link | The same people who gripe

The same people who gripe about accommodation for fat people are probably the same folks who would have complained about blacks using the same water fountains as whites back in the 60's.

chondros October 30th, 2007 | Link | Nobody likes to give up top

Nobody likes to give up top dog status; it's as if they are afraid that, by acknowledging us as human beings, that's exactly what they lose.

That sounds exactly right to me. Society has seen a lot of the old status distinctions go by the wayside over the last few decades. It's gotten harder and harder to find large numbers of people to look down on, and a *lot* of people seem to need to look down on someone. Fat people, increasingly, are the designated low-status group. Hence the anger when we're accomodated in any way -- even when it hasn't cost the angry folks a dime or a moment's trouble.

wallflower October 30th, 2007 | Link | 175 for men?

I think the original "average" weight for men was always a little lowballed. 175 seems a wee bit on the thin side for the average male, most of the men I've ever met weighed about 210-215. I'm sure when the rides were originally built the average male weighed closer to 200 than 175, just from average bone density and muscle mass. Good on them for making the adjustment, now if only they could do something about that annoying song!

Viola's picture
October 30th, 2007 | Link | Interesting. I've ridden

Interesting. I've ridden that ride a number of times when I lived in So CA. My biggest concern at that time, really, was the stereotypical nature of the costume and backgrounds. I was usually riding with my child, and they never loaded the seats up, tending to 2 adults per row with their kids. Sometimes it was just me and my 2 small ones, so bottoming out was never a problem. If they are having that problem now, I'm guessing they are putting more people in the seats. Of all the rides in Disneyland, that is one that is fairly wide and can accommodate more people, so it makes sense to make the flumes deeper.

rachelr's picture
October 30th, 2007 | Link | It was designed with the

It was designed with the assumptions that male riders would be 175 pounds, and females 135.

My husband is 6'1" and weighs about 180 and I think he's a beanpole. Yet, I guess he would be one of the supposed fatties for whom the ride is being accommodated. These fat-fighting commenters seem to assume that the ride is being revamped so as to accommodate 500-pound people, when in reality, they're probably among the group of people who will now benefit from the ride's new accommodations.

I can't seem to find any valid statistics on what average heights and weights were in the 1950s or 1960s. But my research on women's magazines in the early to mid part of the century shows a barrage of dieting tips and stories first appearing in the mid to late 1950s, which suggest to me that the average weight for women could not have been 135. If the average weight were 135 - why then the bombardment of diet tips? (the fact that women's magazines were run by and largely written by men does not escape notice)

hotchka October 30th, 2007 | Link | "Why are they so incredibly

"Why are they so incredibly angry?" That's the part I don't get either. There's just so much hostility out there. I guess it's easier for some people to hate someone for being fat than to ponder what's gone wrong in their own lives.

"Churro-loving" add a bit of racism too while they're at it. Nice.

sannanina October 30th, 2007 | Link | Sorry, but could someone

Sorry, but could someone explain to me what "Churro-loving" means? I am not a native speaker and I have never come across that expression.

Kunoichi October 30th, 2007 | Link |

They're a sweet bread stick of sorts. I've never seen one myself - I don't know that they've made it up to Canada, but they certainly aren't available where I live now.

sannanina October 30th, 2007 | Link | Thanks!


MReap October 30th, 2007 | Link | Churros are wonderful

Churros are wonderful things; especially when fresh and hot and eaten along with a good cup of coffee. Smiling

JeanC's picture
October 30th, 2007 | Link | Why are they angry? Because

Why are they angry? Because their "thin privileges" are being threatened Sticking out tongue Heaven forbid if FAT people actually can enjoy the same activities and stuff they do.

richie79's picture
October 30th, 2007 | Link | The way these things are

The way these things are reported by the media doesn't help one little bit. Any time a company or organisation makes adjustments for larger people it's seized upon as yet another indicator of how the 'obesity epidemic' is spreading.

Here in the UK there's been simultaneous expressions of outrage and hand-wringing at the introduction of larger uniforms for schoolkids, roomier medical equipment such as ambulances and MRI scanners and yes, wider seating at theme parks, cinemas, stadiums etc.

The reality is that there have always been fat people wanting the same access to all of these things as 'normal' folk but up until recently they've just had to accept being excluded - be that standing at the side of the rollercoaster whilst their friends ride or doing without the X-ray that could save their lives.

The fact that many businesses are now finally coming to realise that there's serious money to be made by catering to a market segment which through omission or outright prejudice has been hitherto untapped is hardly an indication of an exponentially increasing fat population, nor a scientific measure of the scale of the 'obesity problem'.

Dreama October 30th, 2007 | Link | I am sure that there has

I am sure that there has been an issue with the boats on this ride, however, someone on Consumerist hit on an important factor -- the demographic shift of Disneyland. With smaller families than a generation ago, and the increase in childless adult couples and groups visiting the park together, there are more adult bodies being put onto each conveyance in these "all ages" rides than in days past. A ride that was designed to operate most efficiently with a 1:1 ratio of children to adults is not going to work well with a 1:2 ratio, and I'd bet that it's probably a bit higher, especially at certain times of day and year.

Things have changed, times have changed. There are so many things to be concerned about in this world, I am perplexed that so much vitriol can be spewed over a rumor about a possible reason for revamping an amusement park ride, especially one that's based on racial and ethnic concepts that are so woefully outdated as to border on offensive. Perspective, in these fractious times, would be welcomed and embraced with open arms, but I fear on this topic it's just not going to come.

BabySeal October 30th, 2007 | Link | "Here in the UK there's been

"Here in the UK there's been simultaneous expressions of outrage and hand-wringing at the introduction of larger uniforms for schoolkids,"

I suppose they would like those kids to go to school in their underpants and preferably be laughed at by the rest of the class... after all we all know that a "good" lessn in shame makes you thin. Not!

As for the Disney ride thng... I agree with the previous comments. Plus, it's good business practice to cater to any potential client, fat, thin, young, old or in between. I wonder if those who are howling with despair about this adjustment would risk loosing potential earnings - if they had a company - by being so dumb as to wilfully cut themselves out of a potential client range?

twincats October 31st, 2007 | Link | Good start, keep going...

I also have never had an issue with "It's a Small World" as a ride. But you gotta start somewheres, I guess.

I rode on the Matterhorn (Disneyland, Anaheim) about seven years ago and it was not a fun experience, as the narrow seat painfully squished my wide derierre the whole time.

walkallday's picture
November 2nd, 2007 | Link | I haven't been to Disney or

I haven't been to Disney or any theme park in many many years, though living in Orlando, Fl, my family had annual passes to all the theme parks when we were younger. Being a pretty large guy all my life, I remember having trouble fitting into rides even back in middle school...say 200 pounds ago. Even my father, who's not a large person often had trouble getting into some of them. I also agree with Dreama: most of those rides were designed thinking of only kids in mind.

MichMurphy November 2nd, 2007 | Link | I thought it was good news

I thought it was good news too, which is why I was upset about the Consumerist commenters. The Consumerist is a website that is supposed to be happy about companies that, you know, CATER TO THEIR CUSTOMERS. But I guess that just means as long as they aren't fat customers.

Theme park rides are one of my most favourite things in the world. I am glad more people can fit into the ones at Disneyland.

MichMurphy November 2nd, 2007 | Link | Oh also: obviously everyone

Oh also: obviously everyone is mad at fat people because they are CONCERNED FOR OUR HEALTH.

Cause I know when I get all concerned about people, my first reaction is rage. Especially if those people are using up my healthcare dollars and taking up seats on rides at Disneyland, like those damn kids at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I wonder what will happen when, someday, there is no longer a group of people who will put up with being the moral scapegoat/whipping boy for an entire society.

Who will we blame for our shortcomings then? Ourselves? Gah!

Meowzer November 4th, 2007 | Link | Yeah, first they let in

Yeah, first they let in long-haired hippie freaks and men with mustaches and women in miniskirts, now this. Prepare for Armageddon!

Dreama makes a good point about far more adults riding the rides than there used to be. Also, you'd better believe a lot more kids visiting the park are nonwhite than there were 50 years ago, especially Hispanics. North Orange County and environs, and especially Anaheim itself, now has a very significant Latino population that didn't exist when a lot of these rides were built, and you can bet your fat ass plenty of locals go to the Diz. Even if it's a "splurge," which it certainly is for a working-class family, they're likely to do it once a year for the sake of the kids. A lot of the locals even scrape together the money for the yearly pass, especially teenagers who have after-school jobs.

So yes, more fat asses in the seats. And they didn't have churros (basically, long skinny cinnamon/sugar Mexican doughnuts) in the park in the 1950s and 1960s either. So what do they want to do, these people who are so Concerned About Our Health (hahahaha), close the place down? Make them serve only bottled water and celery sticks? Use the "Southwest Airlines" standards for admission?

Hell, why not make them do it everywhere? Unless you have a yearly pass you're not going to spend that much time in there anyway, so why not make them measure our asses before going into movie theatres and sports stadia and concert halls, even the mall? Make us get on a scale before we can buy a bag of popcorn (one weight tier for popcorn with butter, one tier for popcorn without butter)? And close down the bars while we're at it, there's some serious calorie ingestion going on in those places.

The Temperance Union lives. Only now it's obsessed with fat.

BabySeal November 5th, 2007 | Link | "Make them serve only

"Make them serve only bottled water and celery sticks? "

Don't give them ideas, for Pete's sake... Eye-wink

I'd bet they (the People Concerned for Our Health) would love to do exactly that.

richie79's picture
November 5th, 2007 | Link | "Don't give them ideas, for

"Don't give them ideas, for Pete's sake... "

No need BabySeal, they're quite capable of dreaming up ever-more horrible ways to make us thin as it is. I don't know about theme parks, but in the UK the recently-released Government report 'Tacking Obesities' recommends (amongst other measures) the following:

"supermarkets, responding to government regulations similar to those on cigarettes and alcohol, arbitrate on which customers can buy high fat foods... "

"electronic ‘fat quota’ ration cards may keep a closer eye on obese people’s food purchases and ration specific items; it could even be used to identify overweight teenagers that should attend government-run fitness camps..."

(quoted from Junkfood Science)

Given the current zeal for this sort of thing in Westminster these and other recommendations of the report will in all likelihood become actual policy in the next couple of years. At which point I shall be on the first plane out of here before 'they' come knocking on my door; there's rumours that they're already tendering for contracts to build and operate these 'government-run' weight-loss centres.

George Orwell, eat your heart out (or rather don't, else Big Brother will come and drag you off to a fat camp) Sad

wriggle99 November 5th, 2007 | Link | OB cities

"Tackling obesities"?! Now there's more than one? Cripes!

Meowzer November 5th, 2007 | Link | Richie, it sounds to me as

Richie, it sounds to me as though the UK is concerned deeply that people aren't smoking and drinking enough. Certainly, if they enact those kinds of policies, you'll hardly find a sober adult anywhere in the country.

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