Disney's 'Small World' to get big retrofit

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ANAHEIM -- Disneyland will shutter the popular "It's a Small World" attraction for a supersized retrofit next year, but insists the upgrade has nothing to do with the expanding girth of park patrons.

Disneyland plans to close down the 41-year-old flume ride in January to give it a much-needed facelift -- and deal with the delicate problem of bottoming-out boats.

Heavier-than-anticipated loads have been causing the boats to come to a standstill in two different spots near the Canadian Mounties and the Scandinavian geese, said Al Lutz, a longtime Disney watcher whose Web site MiceAge.com first reported the refurbishment plans.

Lutz said he's been on the ride when several guests were asked to get off to lighten the load.

"They've even built a platform next to that (Mounties) curve because they've had so many problems," he said.

But Disneyland, which plans to add an inch of depth to the water and construct lighter boats, said overweight tourists aren't to blame.

The boats get stuck because "layers and layers" of fiberglass have built up where maintenance teams have patched and re-patched problem areas, Disneyland Resort spokesman Bob Tucker said.

"The only thing that's true is that we are going down in January and it's for 10 months and it's to replace the flumes," he said.

In recent years, Disneyland has redesigned many of its costumes and started stocking them in larger sizes to accommodate ever-expanding waistlines.

Adult men and women are about 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960, and 65% are considered overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
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