Imagineering & You: What about the Little Guy?How can we improve our attractions to make them compatible for little people?
From Joshua CounsilI 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.
Posted June 21, 2010 at 7:42 AM
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 gonzalezthey 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.
Posted June 21, 2010 at 12:27 PM
WORD to the roloff's, little people, big world in da house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From Joshua CounsilI 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".
Posted June 21, 2010 at 2:24 PM
The problem with political correctness: in your attempt to be overly sensitive, you end up being even more offensive.
From luis gonzalezhey herve, what kind of donuts do you want?
Posted June 21, 2010 at 3:01 PM
de plain, de plain!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From Anthony MurphyGood question
Posted June 21, 2010 at 8:10 PM
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 CounsilGood point, Anthony. Didn't think of that.
Posted June 21, 2010 at 8:34 PM
From Rob PNot knowing who Katt Williams is I Googled him and discovered that he's 5ft 5 ins tall.
Posted June 22, 2010 at 3:35 AM
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 ?
From Nick MarkhamA good example of a solution to this problem would be Wicked at my home park Lagoon.
Posted June 22, 2010 at 7:17 AM
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 CounsilGreat ideas.
Posted June 22, 2010 at 9:26 AM
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 CurleyUm... Joshua, Hervé Villechaize died 17 years ago. I don't think he can complain about what anyone calls him.
Posted June 22, 2010 at 10:48 PM
From Joshua CounsilYes, 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.
Posted June 23, 2010 at 10:46 AM
From Rob PLOL Jack.
Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:33 AM
From Charles JohnsonWhen 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.
Posted June 24, 2010 at 3:25 PM
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 SimpsonYes- Warwick Davis! What happened last week when he ushered in the opening of WWHP? How could anyone deny Professor Flitwick access to Forbidden Journey??
Posted June 24, 2010 at 7:11 PM
From luis gonzalezi heard they had him sit in daniel radcliff's lap.
Posted June 24, 2010 at 7:38 PM
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Stories from a Theme Park Insider
What's it like to work in a theme park? Stories from a Theme Park Insider takes you inside the famous tunnels and backstage at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a look at how theme parks really work, sharing the funny moments and embarrassments that can happen when your job is someone else's vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2014 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar.
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive