The Big Picture: Zooming In
by Joshua Olive, ALL EARS® Guest Columnist
This article appeared in the September 4, 2007 Issue #415 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
It's that time again, when we examine how Walt Disney World works for those of us of larger than average proportions. This time around, there were some new things at WDW for me to experience (one of my favorite things about the parks is that they're constantly adding new attractions!), so here is an update from a big picture perspective.
Let's start with Disney's newest mountain. Expedition Everest is incredible! Never mind the fact that this fantastic E-Ticket at Disney's Animal Kingdom is a beautiful roller coaster themed within an inch of its life and a wild ride, I fit in this ride vehicle very comfortably. At 6'6" and nearly 400 lbs., I don't always enjoy the seating options, even on some of my favorite rides (Splash Mountain is a knee killer!), but I wasn't even slightly uncomfortable in the Everest ride vehicle. There was plenty of knee/leg room, the lap bar fit comfortably over my legs, the seat was wide enough, and the headrest was tall enough.
If you're concerned that you may have difficulty fitting into this ride given your particular body type, there is a test vehicle discreetly located in the village of Serka Zong at the foot of the Forbidden Mountain (just ask a cast member if you need any help finding it!) where you can try it out for yourself before standing in line. That way, you can avoid any potential embarrassment in front of other people. Just know that if the lap bar clicks a single time, you're good to go, as one click means you are securely fastened in your seat.
Knowing that I wasn't going to be the biggest guy on this attraction, I was a bit worried — I figured a 30-foot tall audio-animatronic Yeti would look pretty silly. Those fears were certainly allayed — he looked incredible! I was absolutely blown away by the huge, snarling guardian of the mountain as he swung down from above, full of anger that we had trespassed on his territory.
And the queue for Expedition Everest is just about the kind of line you want to get stuck in. The outdoor shrines are authentic in appearance and present a good lead-in for what you're going to be facing, but the base camp outfitter shop is very nicely themed, and the attached Yeti museum is fascinating. What a fabulous preamble to an incredible roller coaster! There is so much to look at in the queue and so many details to absorb, that it really is part of the attraction you shouldn't miss. Imagineering knocked this one out of the park.
What else was new for me this past year? The Crush 'n' Gusher at Typhoon Lagoon. Generally, at the water parks, we folks who are on the larger side have our own share of concerns, ranging from having adequate swim wear to the uncomfortable stare many people can't seem to help giving. My concern for Crush 'n' Gusher was purely related to physics, however.
As a water coaster with uphill portions requiring the use of powerful water jets, I was a bit worried about getting stuck somewhere in the middle of the ride — that the jets wouldn't be strong enough to propel me up the slopes. I can just imagine the embarrassment of that. How in the world would I get out of there? But I was still determined, if at all possible, to ride it. So I sought out the biggest cast member I could find in the area, told him my concern, and asked if he thought I'd make it through OK. My fears were (mostly) allayed when he laughed and told me that he and two other cast members, the three of them totaling over 600 lbs., had gone through it on one three-man raft just fine. With that assurance, I grabbed my two-man raft and clambered to the loading station.
At the top, I placed my inner tube on the conveyor (a much better system than the loading system at Gangplank Falls with a pool of water and a raised slide surface), and the cast member told me how/where I needed to sit, grinned, and started the conveyor up. The next thing I knew, I was flying through the tubes, having the time of my life! I don't think I even slowed down at the uphill portions of the ride! There were certainly no "I think I can, I think I can" type moments, trying to crest the hills. I flew through that ride, enjoying every second of it, and splashed down happily in the pool at the bottom.
If you're a person of size and you're worried about this ride, don't. This is an attraction Disney can definitely be proud of, and no one has to miss it because of their size (other than normal height restrictions). This is definitely one you don't want to miss.
Another new thing for me this year was the discovery of clothing that would fit. If you're in the higher numbers of the size percentiles and you're looking for clothing souvenirs from your favorite place on Earth, there aren't a whole lot of options, especially if, like me, you don't care to "waste" time shopping at Downtown Disney (where it is rumored that World of Disney stocks some larger clothing items). On my most recent trip, we decided to escape the heat for a little bit and look around in MouseGear, Epcot's biggest shop. Lo and behold, I discovered a great Disney t-shirt in my size (5X) hanging on the rack right on the shop floor! I hardly ever look for shirts in my size in the shops anymore, having been disappointed so many times, but I walked out of there with a great Disney t-shirt that I could actually wear.
As I've gotten to try new things, I've found that the more recent attractions are more accessible than ever to people of size, which is wonderful. Walt Disney World has proven to be a place that is friendly and accessible to people of all shapes and sizes, and this time I was able to bring home a t-shirt to prove it!
Guest Columnist Joshua Olive, 30, is a 6'6", 380-lb. man whose inner child is bigger yet. He's been a BIG fan of Walt Disney World since his first visit in 1979 and he's now a 15-trip veteran. A program manager for a robotics integrator by day, Josh was also a peer reviewer for the upcoming PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, written by Allears.net's Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma.
Read Josh Olive's other articles at http://allears.net/btp/josho.htm
Our "WDW at Large" section has trip reports and individual attraction notes, as well as attraction seating photos: http://allears.net/tp/ridsiz.htm
PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line fully evaluates each attraction for size issues: http://allears.net/pl/snbook.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.