Riders or repairs weighing down Small World boats?
The Disneyland ride will undergo a refurbishment because boats are sinking.
By SARAH TULLY, The Orange Register
ANAHEIM – One thing is clear: It's A Small World ride in Disneyland will undergo renovations partly because boats are bottoming out.
But the reason for the sinking boats is up for debate.
Disney officials claim that after years of piling on fiberglass repairs, the water pathway is shallower than when the ride was created in 1964.
A Disney watchdog blog, however, says that guests' ever-expanding girths are causing the boats to float deeper and get stuck, causing embarrassing evacuations that were happening almost daily.
Rob Doughty, a Disneyland spokesman, said the miceage.comblog is "just flat out wrong."
"Anything else is totally speculation, conjecture on somebody's' part," Doughty said.
Al Lutz, miceage.com editor, disagreed, saying internal memos suggest that Disney officials long have worried about the weight of guests pushing down ride cars and boats. Specifically, Small World was designed for the New York World's Fair, assuming adult men averaged 175 pounds and adult women averaged 135 pounds, the blog states.
The average weight for Americans has climbed to more than 190 pounds for men and more than 160 for women, accord to the medical Web site WebMD
"The problem is the boats are riding lower in the water," Lutz said.
Doughty said all rides have capacity rules. In water rides, including the Jungle Cruise, the ride operators must focus on the "distribution of guests." When visitors shift, the rides can stop. But he denied that this was because of the weight gain of guests overall.
Since word got out about the stoppages at Small World, Lutz said ride operators have been instructed to load the boats lighter so they won't jam up.
Regardless of the specific reasons, Disney will embark on a 10-month refurbishment of the ride of 300 animatronic, singing dolls with costumes from around the world, replacing the original water flume and the boats, Doughty said.
A few new undisclosed scenes will be added and others will be enhanced during the spruce up. Small World will remain open through the holidays when it is redecorated with a Christmas theme and carols.
Jan. 7 will be the first day the ride will be closed.