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Imagineering & You: What about the Little Guy?

How can we improve our attractions to make them compatible for little people?

From Joshua Counsil
Posted June 21, 2010 at 7:42 AM
I was watching a routine by comedian Katt Williams regarding his small stature and its impediment on his daily life. He mentioned that at theme parks, despite being a grown man, he can't even ride the roller coasters and is stuck on the teacups with the kids.

Coincidentally, I was at Canada's Wonderland this weekend (trip report coming soon) and thought about how different my life and career direction would be if I was a midget or little person (FWIW, the debate continues as to which term is more appropriate - thank you so much, political correctness).

Typically, if a child is too short, chances are they're too young to be riding that attraction, anyway. But what about a grown person that happens to be a midget or, like Katt Williams, is just short?

Several Orlando attractions have customized vehicles that allow for larger or disabled guests. Surely custom seats could be built for little people. Alternatively, what about a different type of restraint? A grown midget typically has an upper body that is proportional to an average grown person, though their limbs are stunted. This would cause their center of mass to be higher than an average person's, if I'm not mistaken. Thus, additionally to a lap bar, could the seats be fitted with an upper body restraint, similar to a seatbelt, that would allow smaller guests to ride?

What are your thoughts? Are little people restricted to rides without height restraints for the rest of their lives? If we can accommodate them, how would you go about it?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From luis gonzalez
Posted June 21, 2010 at 12:27 PM
they get pissed when you call them midgets; little people or dwarves are the only P.C terms. I just dont think there are enough LP's to devote an entire seat on a few rides, on the other hand half of america are crazy fat so they do need to be accomidated. It's sad but some people just can't do everything, and i think that should be ok. I can't play in the NBA and I'm ok with it.

WORD to the roloff's, little people, big world in da house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Joshua Counsil
Posted June 21, 2010 at 2:24 PM
I would have used to agree with you, but I've read articles from little people who hate being called "little people" and found it much more degrading than "midget". French actor Hervé Villechaize, for example, hates the term "little person".

The problem with political correctness: in your attempt to be overly sensitive, you end up being even more offensive.

From luis gonzalez
Posted June 21, 2010 at 3:01 PM
hey herve, what kind of donuts do you want?

de plain, de plain!!!!!!!!!!!!!

word!!!!!!!!!!!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 21, 2010 at 8:10 PM
Good question

The question I would have is what are the statistics of shorter guests coming to the parks. Heavier passangers are a statistical reality in the US (sadly).

Anybody know the numbers?

I wouldn't mind, but I am not sure it would make a difference as many also have physical issues that would not allow them to ride the attraction anyway.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted June 21, 2010 at 8:34 PM
Good point, Anthony. Didn't think of that.

From Rob P
Posted June 22, 2010 at 3:35 AM
Not knowing who Katt Williams is I Googled him and discovered that he's 5ft 5 ins tall.
Now THAT is just a bit SHORTand NOT what we're talking about here right ?
( apologies for the CAPs but I couldn't do bold ! )

OK. So to be clear, and not to offend anyone, what we are discussing is a minority group. Adult persons under 4 foot 6 ?

It is a delicate question and an excellent one as it happens. I too had never considered the problem despite my wife being just 5 feet tall. How much investment would be needed to amend major rides to accommodate the shorter person ? Or is it just that the Parks owners have ASSUMED that it's only children who are below 4ft 6 ins ? And that the rides themselves are actually perfectly ok for smaller adults to ride ?
Think about all those rides with restraint bars ( Hulk etc ). I may be wrong but , in my mind's eye, they would accommodate a person of smaller stature. So perhaps , rather than exclude children by age they nominate a height restriction instead. No argument unless , of course, you happen to be over 21 yrs of age.
It must be embarrassing that Daniel Radcliffe isn't allowed on the rides at Harry Potter !
I wonder if Joshua's thread will elicit a response from someone in authority.
Good thread Joshua.

From Nick Markham
Posted June 22, 2010 at 7:17 AM
A good example of a solution to this problem would be Wicked at my home park Lagoon.

It is a 110-foot launch coaster (think of SkyRocket since they went in and literally copied most of Wicked's Layout) with one big vertical G-Roll, and lots of quick and speedy curves.

However, this big thrill coaster can still accommodate to those who are even around 40". How? Lagoon has always been smart about incorporating their rides for everyone (some rides have larger seats to accommodate to the larger guests) and for Wicked, they wanted it to be enjoyed by the whole family while still being an amazing thrill for thrill seekers.

This is why they chose Zierer to make it. They usually make Children's coasters, but they were the one company that was open to allowing a new design made by Lagoon to be built.

They came up with a sort of booster seat, which looks in to the back of the larger seat and is still compatible with the lap restraints.

While Lagoon may be a small park, I think many parks could take some advise from my small hometown park!

From Joshua Counsil
Posted June 22, 2010 at 9:26 AM
Great ideas.

I'm not actually talking about people of Kat Williams' stature. He's 65", which should be sufficient for any roller coaster. His stand-up just helped inspire the thread.

Thanks for the input, guys. That booster seat is an excellent idea. Alternatively, the seats could be adjustable, similar to a barber's chair. By default, they would be low. When the ride assistant checks the belts and restraints, they could pump up the seats for those of smaller stature.

From Jack Curley
Posted June 22, 2010 at 10:48 PM
Um... Joshua, Hervé Villechaize died 17 years ago. I don't think he can complain about what anyone calls him.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted June 23, 2010 at 10:46 AM
Yes, but the term "little person" was in effect when he was alive. He was strongly opposed to it. And due to his celebrity status, his opinion is more important than ours.

From Rob P
Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:33 AM
LOL Jack.

From Charles Johnson
Posted June 24, 2010 at 3:25 PM
When the Indiana Jones ride was new at Disneyland I asked the line attendant what they did if an adult didn't meet the height requirement.
He told me that Warwick Davis, the guy who played Willow, was there just a few days before and they made him sign a waiver.

From KJ Simpson
Posted June 24, 2010 at 7:11 PM
Yes- Warwick Davis! What happened last week when he ushered in the opening of WWHP? How could anyone deny Professor Flitwick access to Forbidden Journey??

From luis gonzalez
Posted June 24, 2010 at 7:38 PM
i heard they had him sit in daniel radcliff's lap.

WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!

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