Jamaica Wind —
So, I’m on vacation this week at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, which I praised in this post two years ago on what a fat-friendly theme park it is. Our third visit as a family and I can still say it’s a great place to have a good time if you’re fat for all the reasons of that post. I definitely appreciate the specific benefits of a fat-friendly theme park that has clearly considered the size of my ass when designing rides for my family.
But there’s something even better that I’ve come to appreciate about Holiday World: the Vibe.
There are a few incidents that illustrate Holiday World’s Vibe, like today when I took my girls onto Eagle’s Flight, where you sit in a big papier mâché bird which spins in circles and you can turn the bird’s head like the rudder of an airplane and twist the bird-craft left and right (you can nearly get it to go 90 degrees).
I got in with Lottie, my four-year-old, and she handed me her half of the buckle and I pulled up my half and there was no way in hell that it was going to reach. It was loosened all the way and there was a good six-inch gap left to close. I go on amusement park rights a lot and I have been fortunate enough to not be too big to ride. Being kind of neurotic, I started to panic at not knowing what to say when the ride attendant checked us. “How do I seat belt? I’m fat!”
I can only imagine the cornfuzzled look on my face when I probably began to say something not much different than that, but I didn’t have to finish because he just said, “Do you need a seat belt extender?” I said yeah and he handed me one, then waited until I clicked it and moved on.
Clearly this was a routine issue, and they either bring one around or else they’ve learned to size up who is and isn’t going to need one. Either way, it was a non-issue and a non-event, which I appreciated. I’m sure other readers could speak to what it’s like to have to ask for a seat belt extender, but my first experience ever was entirely benign.
This must be why there are so many diverse bodies at Holiday World and why they all seem to be having a great time. When a company fosters a culture of respect toward fat people, it shows in how fat people behave. I didn’t see many fat people in t-shirts. I saw young boys who, when I was their age I was far thinner than and STILL wore a t-shirt at a waterpark.
And fostering that kind of culture takes proactive steps, from teaching the staff to be respectful to everyone regardless to hiring a diverse workforce. Today at the top of Watubee, I saw an actual fat lifeguard. Not what society would call fat, but what a fat person would call fat. It’s a small thing, but it matters: Holiday World will not discriminate against a lifeguard who does not look the way society says a lifeguard should look. That is awesome.
Just to be clear, I have not been paid or reimbursed by Holiday World for these posts (although I certainly wouldn’t turn down some free passes), I simply want to celebrate a company that’s doing it right, and express my sincere hope that more companies follow suit.
Alright, I’m going back to the Lazy River with my kids. I hope you all have an awesome week.