When spending thousands on a vacation to Florida’s theme parks, you want everything to be stress free. But for some big and tall tourists, whether they will be able to fit onto the rollercoasters they have saved all year to ride is front and centre of their minds. What help is out there to address concerns before visitors arrive at the parks?
By Phil Taylor
Rollercoasters and attractions have been a family fun excursion for generations. Children wait for years to be ‘just tall’ enough to ride the bigger coasters and there is plenty of info on minimum height limits for each rides. But not so much information exists on maximum weight and height limits exists for rides, which can lead to pre-trip anxieties for big and tall visitors.
Florida has the unofficial title of the land of the theme parks with places like Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens and Sea World all in operation in the southern state. However, there is a question being asked at the moment that many people are being excluded more often than not for certain attractions. This article will see if that is the case.
Restrictions are in place for rides as a health and safety ruling. When designers work on a rollercoaster or attraction it is like a fine game because if one weight distribution is out of place then it can affect the whole motion of the ride.
Restrictions for rides can include being over a certain weight, over a certain height, being pregnant, suffering from a heart condition and many other regulations depending on the rides featured thrill.
Most of these regulations are common ground for theme parks and with regards height restrictions it is usually a height restriction stating “You have to be this tall” to ride the attraction not “You cannot be this tall”. However, there actually is such thing as being too tall for the ride. With designers enjoying affects like head choppers and airtime hills, it makes sense that there is a restriction on height.
However, height restrictions go a lot higher than you would expect with some rides even stating that the restrictions are for people who are 7ft 5in or taller.
People being too heavy for rides is becoming all too frequent for the general public visiting theme parks. A lot of people who might be overweight are feeling they are being discriminated against as they visit theme parks such as Disney and Universal.
After the opening of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, there were people who were not able to ride the ride and had to perform what has become commonly known as the “walk of shame” as they queue hours for the ride but we’re turned away for being too heavy for when they get to the front of the queue.
At Universal, in particular, they have started to make adjustments for larger guests such as offering a different seat that makes their ride more comfortable.
There are also test seats outside many of the newer rides which allow bigger and taller riders the opportunity to try out the seat and practice fitting in, without risking queueing for sometimes hours only to be turned away when at the ride.
However, many disagree with the test seats which are displayed at the front of the queue line for certain rides in the park.
Mike Galvan, who is known for offering online tips and wrote the thread “The Big Boy’s Guide to rollercoasters” so that people are aware of what to expect on certain manufacturers rides.
He states, “I do not trust the accuracy of the test seats, no matter the park. I can only suspect that the seat belts on the test seats are intentionally short to minimize the potential of riders getting the ‘walk of shame’ at the station. I’ve also had the opposite happen, where I made the test seats but was rejected from the actual ride.”
“When the over-the-shoulder restraint comes down, if part of you is hanging over, whether it be your gut, your thighs or your shoulders, you’re going to be very uncomfortable”
So are these restrictions well known?
If you visit the Disney World website and visit the attractions page you will see information about all the rides. However, the rides do not state that there is a height restriction in terms of being too tall nor does it state any issues with being overweight and riding the rides. With rides such as ‘It’s a Small World’ being adjusted at Disney Land in California, adjustments are readily available at the Orlando park as well.
Cast members are on hand to help guests feel comfortable and make sure they a magical experience. There may still be some rides such as Big Thunder Mountain and The Haunted Mansion, which use lap bars to protect guests, that could be an uncomfortable ride for a larger guest or a smaller person riding with the larger guest.
However, if you need some online tips regarding the Disney parks then Allears.net is the place to visit. The website offers plenty of guidance for people who understand that visiting a theme park can be a difficult experience. Their disclaimer of Disney through the eyes of people who know that one size does not fit all, is a perfect tagline as they put guests at ease and stating they do not need to worry as much as they do compared with other parks.
With regards Universal, the rides are seen as more “adult” and thrilling compared to many attractions at Disney. The rides do include loops and rolls such as The Incredible Hulk and sharp helixes and drop tracks such as Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, so the restrictions are clear and displayed on the website.
If you visit the Universal website there is information on each ride and also a very useful handbook stating the height, width and other requirements to ride a certain attraction.
There are also Youtube channels specifically made by theme park fans for big and tall visitors with helpful guides about how to use the test seats and where bigger seats are located on rides. Parks in Your Pocket is a good example of this, and co-authored by Dave who is 6ft8 and 350 pounds.
Essentially, theme parks in Florida are trying to accommodate all guests and there are not as many issues as you would think there is regarding rides and attractions. Of course, there will be limits if a guest is larger but the parks have many ways of helping a guest enjoy their experience throughout the day. Guest services is always the best to contact if you have any concerns. However, the guidance is not heavily shown directly on the website.
Before spending the money and visiting the park it is always best to contact an advisor at the park or seek advice so that you are able to have the most enjoyable experience you can.
Title Photo – Reddit