Friday, December 28, 2012

Jimmy Eat World

You're familiar with the Disneyland ride It's A Small World, right? If so, good. If not, well.... sorry, readers already familiar.

Well, now that's in my head for the rest of the day. Yours too, probably. That having been done to all our brains, though, let's talk about it a bit. The ride was originally constructed for the 1964 World's Fair in New York, held in Flushing Meadows Park, across from the then-like-new Shea Stadium. (In fact, Walt Disney constructed several things for the fair, envisioning a permanent World's Fair in New York, but that wasn't to be, so he moved them to Disneyland instead, including the Carousel of Progress and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, now part of the Hall of Presidents.

By the way, these days? Not only do World's Fairs not come to the United States anymore, the United States was the very last nation out of 192 participants to even agree to show up at the 2010 Expo in Shanghai, after failing to show up at all in 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain. The pavilion was entirely corporate-sponsored and the US caught hell for brazenly not caring.

Anyway. It's A Small World was built with fiberglass boats- which saw decades of service- and a shallow pool to float them in. The pool didn't have to be deep, just deep enough to float the boats.

In 2007, the boats stopped floating, prompting a closure of the ride to get new boats and deeper pools. Disney's official explanation was that the boats were getting old and patch-laden, and the pool had gotten less shallow over time due to accumulated repairs. The real reason, though, was your fat ass.

No. That was the reason.

When the ride was built in 1963, engineers figured an average passenger weight of 135 pounds for women and 175 pounds for men. That was fine in 1963. People have gotten rather fatter since then, 25 pounds fatter (Buster, the Mythbusters dummy representative of 95% of American males, comes in at 195 pounds), causing the boats to start floating lower in the water, and lower, and lower, until finally, early in the ride at the Canada/Scandinavia segment, they hit the floor. Ride operators hid the problem for a little while, leaving empty seats on rides with particularly lard-encrusted passengers, but this only drew complaints from people waiting in line, and eventually the problem came to a headcheese. I mean head. The ride had to be shut down to go get more buoyant boats and lower the floor.

Inconvenienced passengers- the fatter ones causing the problem had to be pulled off the ride every time it happened- were given food coupons. Because of course that's how you handle someone who is fat enough to sink a boat.

While they were fat-proofing the ride, they went ahead and did some renovating on the rest of the ride as well, so that, for example, the United States had a little more to it than just a cowboy and a Native American singing next to each other, or Hawaii could see Lilo and Stitch added on. The video above is of the renovated version; compare to this version from 2006.

If this happens again, maybe all the singing international puppets on the ride should just be replaced with one.

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