A sinking feeling on ‘Small World’ ride
The annoyingly catchy song at Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” attraction reminds riders that “the oceans are wide.”
Whether they’re deep enough is another story.
Forty-one years after the whimsical ride debuted at the Anaheim park, Disneyland plans to shutter the attraction in January to give it a much-needed face-lift -- and deal with the delicate problem of bottoming-out boats.
Heavier-than-anticipated loads have been causing the boats to come to a standstill in two different spots, allowing for an extra-long gander at the Canadian Mounties and the Scandinavian geese, said Al Lutz, whose website MiceAge first reported the refurbishment plans.
“If these boats get stuck . . . they have to send someone back in there to lighten the load on the boat,” said Lutz, who has been on the ride when a guest or two was asked to disembark.
“They’ve even built a platform next to that [Mounties] curve because they’ve had so many problems.”
Disneyland plans to add an inch of depth to the water channel and design more-buoyant boats, Lutz said.
Perhaps in an effort to protect visitors’ egos, the park insists that fat tourists aren’t to blame.
The boats get stuck because “layers and layers” of fiberglass have built up where maintenance teams have patched and re-patched problem areas, said Disneyland Resort spokesman Bob Tucker.
“The only thing that’s true is that we are going down in January and it’s for 10 months and it’s to replace the flumes,” Tucker said.
But Disneyland is well aware of America’s expanding waistlines.
In recent years, the park has redesigned many of its costumes and started stocking them in larger sizes to accommodate ever-expanding waistlines. Adult men and women are about 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960, and 65% are considered overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The average weight for men jumped from 166 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002; women average 164 pounds instead of 140.
Of course, this is a world of fantasy and the perfect place to forget about that diet for a few hours. So when somebody gets booted from the boat, Lutz said, Disneyland ride operators make sure the guests don’t leave disappointed: They hand them a food ticket.