Author: has written 5302 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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35 Responses

  1. stnemmoc
    stnemmoc November 8, 2007 at 8:59 pm |

    The average weight for men jumped from 166 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002; women average 164 pounds instead of 140.

    Does anyone know how the average height changed over that same time period?

  2. Susan
    Susan November 8, 2007 at 9:08 pm |

    I was thinking the same thing! I’m pretty darn sure average height has increased. A quick look on google shows there’s been a 9 cm increase over 100 years. Guessing half of that has occured over the last 50 years, that’s a height increase of more than 2″! Tall people are ruining Small World!

    Or maybe it’s just a really old ride that needs a few touch ups. *shrug*

  3. Peggy
    Peggy November 8, 2007 at 9:21 pm |

    Here are the US stats comparing 1960 to 2002:

    Women: average height went from 5’3″ to 5’4″ and average weight went from 140.2 pounds to 164.3 pounds.

    Men: average height went from 5’8″ to 5’9.5″ and average weight went from 166.3 pounds to 191 pounds.

    The full report breaks it down by age and race/ethnicity.

    I suspect that part of the reason that Small World is being retooled (aside from the obvious need to revamp a 40 year old ride) is that there may be a higher proportion of adults there than originally anticipated. If they originally built the rides assuming the typical group would be mom, dad and two kids the actual groups of teenagers and child-free adults would really throw off their calculations.

  4. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne November 8, 2007 at 9:30 pm |

    Remember when the Pirates of the Caribbean ride got refurbished a few years ago (before the movie) and there were a lot of howls about how it was done because the “PC police” complained about the pirates chasing the women?

    Rumor has it that it was the excuse that the park personnel used to get the budget freed up to get the ride refurbished when it was looking pretty shabby. (Let’s not get into the “maintenance” decisions of the Eisner years — they’re not pretty.) So they used one or two complaints that they’d received to get money that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. They made the changes (now the pirates are chasing women … who are carrying food) but also spruced up the whole ride.

    I strongly suspect that a similar thing happened with Small World — they may have used the “weight” excuse to get the budget for desperately needed refurbishment. (I rode it this summer — believe me, the refurbishment really is desperately needed.)

    Disclaimer: I don’t have direct knowledge of any of this. Strictly rumor and hearsay.

  5. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne November 8, 2007 at 9:55 pm |

    Mnemosyne, the problem is that Disneyland isn’t using the fat excuse; there’s no evidence whatsoever that fat tourists are the reason for the remodel. The reporter just added that to the story with absolutely no backing, and with out-right denials from Disney.

    They didn’t officially use the PC excuse for Pirates, either.

    Let me be clear: I’m not saying that Disneyland actually used the excuse. I’m saying that because of this previous history about Pirates, I suspect that an urban legend has formed about Small World and the reasons it’s being refurbished.

    Why the LA Times is reporting urban legends as fact is the question here.

  6. norbizness
    norbizness November 8, 2007 at 10:44 pm |

    Why can’t they take this time to dismantle it and throw it into the Pacific Ocean?

  7. Sniper
    Sniper November 8, 2007 at 10:53 pm |

    What, a whole 8 posts and not a single one suggesting that public places be made less accessible to shame fat people into becoming socially acceptable? Where is all the concern about health?

  8. Blog of the Moderate Left » “Ugliness” and “Fatness” are Genetic Disorders, Much Like Baldness or Necrophilia

    […] course, Karolchyk is the symptom, not the disease. An article in The Los Angeles Times blames fat people for the closing and refurbishing of “It’s a […]

  9. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea November 9, 2007 at 2:00 am |

    So, basically: Disney told me why they’re shutting down the ride, but that doesn’t give me a chance to make fun of fat people, so I’m just going to say it’s because of them instead. Because there just haven’t been enough articles about how awful fat people are in the media lately.

    Thanks, hometown paper.

  10. Eileen
    Eileen November 9, 2007 at 2:31 am |


    Oh, and a fact about Disney history… they didn’t redesign their costumes because people are bigger. In the ‘good old days’ Disney would not hire anyone who did not fit into a very narrow ideal. This ideal was (can you guess?) small and very, very white. They changed their hiring practices when they realized that they could be sued. They didn’t start making larger costumes because fat people magically appeared and took over; they made them larger because they finally, begrudgingly agreed to accept the existence of fat people.

    Is that just a semantic difference? It seems huge to me.

  11. scleen
    scleen November 9, 2007 at 3:49 am |

    I get where you’re coming from, but if you’re going to throw “total lack of journalistic integrity” around you’d be advised to scrub your own post first until it squeaks. Your post falls apart because it completely fails to mention that the writer based her fat angle on a cited source, Disney blogger Al Lutz:

    >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.

  12. Catrina
    Catrina November 9, 2007 at 11:28 am |

    I really don’t care whether they’re changing up the ride for fiberglass reasons or for fat people reasons (it is likely a combo). I just hate that people get a pissy when anything is done that will improve anything for fat people. Because that would be encouraging them, don’tcha know? You can’t just let fat people walk around thinking they’re okay, I mean really.

    Argh, people.

  13. DAS
    DAS November 9, 2007 at 12:06 pm |

    As has been pointed out above, this isn’t the first time the media has made non-stories into stories. I saw this first hand while on a school paper. Too many media types have this extreme need to make everything into a story fitting some sort of “narrative” — and once they get a narative in their head, they just manipulate the “facts” to fit the narrative. It would be merely pathetic if it weren’t so distructive.

  14. meggygurl
    meggygurl November 9, 2007 at 12:17 pm |

    Oddly, as I was reading this, the talk radio station in Charlotte, NC started talking about the same article. Which they took the time to throw out about 10 fat jokes. Including referring to people as “curly fries” and mentioning adding a lipo suction machine on the ride.

    Which made my skin crawl. Now, this show is really horrible most of the time. Listening to it is kinda like watching Fox News, sometimes you want to know what the idiots are saying.

  15. eruvande
    eruvande November 9, 2007 at 1:03 pm |

    Join me, fellow ladies of largeness! If we team up, maybe we can break all the rides and Disney Land will have to shut down. Egad, I hate that place.

    Seriously…why do people who aren’t fat assume those of us who are don’t know? I’ve beaten myself up over my weight since I was a preteen. I don’t need anyone to point out my “flaws”–I am intimately familiar with each and every one.

  16. kathel
    kathel November 9, 2007 at 2:38 pm |

    Scleen, Al Lutz is not a “Disney blogger” so much as he is someone who blogs about Disney. It doesn’t mean he has no credibility, but any sources he may have are, at best, unofficial, and the only entity he has the authority to speak for is himself.

    From the site disclaimer:

    MiceAge™ is not associated in any manner whatsoever with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries and / or its affiliates. The purpose of this site is to present completely independent editorials, reviews, and guides about the Disney theme parks, and consumer products from both Disney and similar companies.

  17. piny
    piny November 9, 2007 at 3:17 pm |

    If fat people actually had caused the destruction of It’s a Small World, overweight America would have deserved a collective congressional medal. I don’t understand this article. It’s like writing a fatphobic screed about fatties taking up all the seats at Creed concerts.

    Seriously…why do people who aren’t fat assume those of us who are don’t know? I’ve beaten myself up over my weight since I was a preteen. I don’t need anyone to point out my “flaws”–I am intimately familiar with each and every one.

    They’re probably the same people who think you’ve never heard of Jesus.

  18. Mike
    Mike November 9, 2007 at 3:20 pm |

    You know, my family and I were at Disney back in March, 2005 and they had that very same ride closed for refurbishing back then. Seems kind of odd that it’d need refurbishing again already.

    They must have used the same company that paves the roads here where we live.

  19. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne November 9, 2007 at 3:52 pm |

    You know, my family and I were at Disney back in March, 2005 and they had that very same ride closed for refurbishing back then. Seems kind of odd that it’d need refurbishing again already.

    They must have used the same company that paves the roads here where we live.

    They must have, because it was looking pretty run-down just a few months ago. Audible clacking as the figures moved, slightly faded costumes, stuff like that.

    The fact that MiceAge was the source only makes me suspect even more that it’s an urban legend. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone made a joke about it that got overheard and told to Lutz second- or third-hand. Even if it was marginal, knowledge of the Pirates maneuvers would make it seem more credible.

  20. Karalora
    Karalora November 9, 2007 at 4:12 pm |

    You know, my family and I were at Disney back in March, 2005 and they had that very same ride closed for refurbishing back then. Seems kind of odd that it’d need refurbishing again already.

    Each ride undergoes an annual minor refurbishment for maintenance purposes–replacing worn parts, painting, etc. Large-scale refurbishments like the one referenced in the article are much less common and must be specially authorized.

  21. madeline
    madeline November 9, 2007 at 5:01 pm |

    Another statistic i’d like to know–how many more people visit disneyworld every day now than in the 1960s? I have a hard time believing the park had the same long hours then as it does now too, so i’d be curious to know. More people (ignoring weight) would equal more wear, right?

  22. Amphigorey
    Amphigorey November 9, 2007 at 5:48 pm |

    While his site is fun, Al Lutz is more of a rumormonger than a reporter. Citing him as a source doesn’t give much credibility to the LA Times reporter.

  23. Isabel
    Isabel November 9, 2007 at 7:00 pm |

    I have nothing to add except that I would like to commend piny for making me laugh out loud.

  24. haydin
    haydin November 9, 2007 at 7:37 pm |

    The original blog post that the LA times article references can be found here : .

    Here’s a paragraph from it: “There are a few notorious bends and curves inside the ride where the heavier boats usually stop at (the Mountie representing Canada is one), and most of the time the offending boat doesn’t get much further than the S curve through the Scandinavian room before they come to a stop and create a traffic jam behind them. Believe it or not, there are absolutely no cameras or detection systems inside it’s a small world, which is just another throwback to its 1960’s roots. ”

    I’m not saying that the blog is right or wrong, I’m just saying that the LA times article didn’t make up news, at worst it got wrong news from a blog without checking the sources.

  25. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. November 9, 2007 at 8:44 pm |

    I’m personally hoping that they’ll also take the opportunity to make the ride more wheelchair accessible. It was my late grandmother’s favourite ride, but we didn’t go on it very often because it was tough for her to get out of her chair and into the boats — not to mention getting back out of them, and through the exit queue (which has stairs and more stairs).

    In other news: aw man, this was gonna be my Sunday Shameless Promotion post :p

  26. Nona
    Nona November 9, 2007 at 10:55 pm |

    It seems like Disney is finally undertaking the large-scale refurbishments a lot of their rides have needed for some time– first Pirates, and then the Haunted Mansion got a much-needed revamp of its sound system and repair of the ride mechanism, and now it’s Small World’s turn.

    Mostly this is down to everything getting worn out over the course of the cost-cutting Eisner years. It’s more than likely we’ll see other flagship rides closing for refurbishment once Small World reopens.

    Now, if we could just get the old Imagination ride back, I’d be *really* happy about this.

  27. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. November 10, 2007 at 2:40 am |

    Nona — don’t forget Space Mountain! And they’ve been working on Matterhorn on and off throughout the years too. Personally I’d love to see the old Imagination ride back.

  28. orlando
    orlando November 10, 2007 at 5:26 am |

    I can’t resist sharing this little jewel of an extract from an Australian TV show from back in the 90s, for the ultimate piece of subversive gonzo journalism in Disneyland. Really, you just have to see it, and keep an eye out for the part where John Safran makes a judicial adjustment the Small World attraction:

  29. Kat
    Kat November 10, 2007 at 9:07 pm |

    A little off topic…. I have a soft spot for the Disney parks. When I took my kids there, they gave my son (who has autism) a Guest Assistance Pass which gave us access to the alternate lines on most of the rides. He has a hard time with crowds and chaos, so this was very, very helpful. And, they obviously had spent some time training their people about disabilities–I was afraid we’d get some rolled eyes because he didn’t “look” disabled. But we were treated with respect at every ride we went to. It made all the difference in our experience there.

  30. piny
    piny November 11, 2007 at 2:02 pm |

    That is impressive. I know Disney has a reputation as being the Mordor of amusement parks,* so I’m glad they’ve been so responsible about assisting families who need assistance, and with so pragmatic a sense of obligation.

    *I’ve never actually been. My parents figured I could get overstimulated just fine at the local amusement park.

  31. kathel
    kathel November 11, 2007 at 2:49 pm |

    I think Disney parks are only Mordor if you work there; they take guest relations and service standards VERY seriously.

  32. Micky
    Micky November 12, 2007 at 7:08 pm |

    Having recently been to Disneyworld in Orlando I would say Disney runs a very well optimized theme parks. The employees might not agree ( I saw employees sneaking off between small breaks in the parade from one spot to another to get out of the park, I think it wouldn’t kill Disney to provide a small ride to them out to the parking lot). But they handled the long lines and filling of the rides with an efficiency I did not see anywhere else (I visited Universal Studios and Busch Gardens while I was there). Also, the employees were very friendly, the costumes were beautiful and transport around the parks was better than most american cities. There were trams, monorail, buses and a ferry to move people around.

  33. Jackie
    Jackie March 12, 2008 at 9:39 pm |

    I’ve heard that Disney actually is very good about having their rides and everything suitable for people up to 400 pounds. I guess of course, since Disney is doing their part to help fat-acceptance, they’re going to have to deal with rotten press like this story. Cause the thin people get upset that they’re not having their thin priveliage anymore. “Why should I have to wait an extra 5 minutes in line, cause a fatty wants to ride? They shouldn’t be able to ride!” That’s what I’m reading from that article. Freaking infantile.

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