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You are too fat for this ride

focus group dialogue, originally uploaded by bijoubaby.

When I visited Disney World, lo these many years ago, we had a tragic/hilarious experience on the old Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Our boats suddenly stopped in their tracks, and we remained stuck for what felt like a very long time. While we waited, the audio track looped and the animatronic pirates went OCD on us, chasing girls in circles and taking swig after swig from bottles of rum.

Eventually, a Disney "Cast Member" came along and helped an obese person to disembark from a boat further up the line. Relieved of its excess weight, the boat buoyed up again and the ride continued. According to MiceAge ("its [sic] a larger world after all"--scroll down to the third article), the phenomenon is more common than I realized. Disney is doing renovations on the Small World ride for this very reason:

Quite simply, the boats weren't designed to handle multiple adults weighing more than 200 pounds, and they now routinely bottom out in the shallow flume and get stuck. The Imagineers who designed the unique flume ride system for the World's Fair assumed that adult men would average 175 pounds, and adult women would average 135 pounds. Needless to say, those 1960's statistics are hopelessly out of date in today's world.
Exactly how out-of-date are they? The CDC reports that average weight in 2002 was 191 pounds for men, and 164.3 pounds for women: "nearly 25 pounds heavier on average" than in 1960. Really, though, it's not the statistical average that's the problem; it's the hyper-obese outliers that break the system. Or it could be that the weight of a typical park goer in the fattest place on earth is slightly higher than the national average.


CM said...

Disturbing... but also, how humiliating is that?

There's a CDC power point presentation on their website that shows the growing obesity rates by state over the past 20 years or so. As the years go by, they have to add higher and higher weight categories and by now nearly every state has at least a 20% obesity rate. Each state is colored according to its rate and you can see the entire map growing redder and redder.

(Also - hi! Remember me from way back when you were thinking about law school? Seems like you're doing well and haven't looked back!)

Sui Generis said...

Hi CM! I know exactly what you're talking about, because I saw that data at my last job in health care. Here's a link to those trend maps for anyone else who wants to be horrified.