Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's a Fat World...

If there's a sadder commentary on the state of American society, we can't think of it -- we've grown so fat we sink the boats of It's A Small World.

According to Miceage, the boats routinely bottom out under the weight of super-sized riders, bringing the popular ride to a grinding -- literally -- halt. That's increased the wear and tear on the fiberglass boats, which have been in use since the ride opened during the 1964 World's Fair, when Americans, on average, weighed 25 pounds less than we do today.

Other rides, including the drop in the Pirates of the Caribbean, face the same problem, Miceage says, but nowhere is it more of headache than It's a Small World.

The ride features several twists and bends where overloaded boats easily bog down, including the "S" bend through the Scandanavian room.

Employees -- Disney calls them "cast members" -- have been aware of the issue for some time now and so discretely leave empty seats in boats carrying heavy riders. But backups persist, and in some cases no one realzes there's a problem until boats stop emerging from the ride.

Disneyland is putting the ride in drydock for 10 months to make it ship-shape again. The boats will be replaced with more buoyant models, and the new flume will be one inch deeper. Work will begin in January.

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