Theme Parks Should Be Doing More to Accommodate Plus-Sized Guests

in Theme Parks, Universal Orlando

Mickey Mouse judging Disney and Universal theme parks for lacking accessibility for plus sized guests

Credit: Inside the Magic

While theme parks are a family-friendly environment for everyone to enjoy, some think the Parks should be doing more for their plus-sized Guests.

Many parkgoers love to feel the thrill of their favorite roller coaster or the joy of their favorite ride when visiting a theme park, especially with so many new attractions opening across America and new experiences waiting for Guests. However, many theme parks are failing their bigger Guests, making rides inaccessible to them, depriving them of the experience, and sometimes, making them feel humiliated after their visit. 

the incredible hulk coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Related: Creator Addresses Complaints of Size-Restrictions Amid Disney and Universal Backlash

Universal Orlando Resort recently took steps toward correcting this by surrounding test seats for multiple attractions with shrubbery to provide plus-sized Guests a safer, more comfortable environment when using the test seats while preventing Guests from using them as just a seat. However, according to Jason Vaughn of @fattestedtravel, there is more that Universal Orlando Resort and all theme parks could do to accommodate their plus-sized Guests better.

Jason recently shared a video thanking Universal Orlando Resort “for trying to help you more people feel comfortable at your rides” and applauding the theme park’s efforts. However, he also commented that surrounding the test seats with shrubbery might not be the best alternative to accommodate Guests.

Revenge of the Mummy Universal Orlando
Credit: Universal

Vaughn commented that many Guests, especially Guests visiting the Parks for the first time, aren’t aware of the test seats at Universal Parks and Disney Parks. “Like for those of us that are plus size and go to many theme parks, you know, our thought is generally, let me go try the test seat out. Casual people might not even think that’s a real thing because they’re just used to they like, ‘oh, everybody fits, I’m sure,'” he added.

Jason also mentioned that signs informing Guests about the test seats are not helpful, as many ignore most signs at theme parks, and that asking a Team Member would be just as unhelpful, as some Guests might feel embarrassed to ask or might not consider the possibility of using a test seat without physically seeing it. “In my experience, for the casual person that goes to a theme park, I worry about them,” he added.

Credit: Universal

However, Jason took a moment to mention a couple of actions theme parks could set in motion to accommodate plus-sized Guests better. His first suggestion, although a little farfetched by its infrastructure implications, was creating a space near a Guest relations area with test seats for every attraction in the Park with some Team Members to assist Guests in the process.

But a more viable approach to better-informing Guests who might need to use a test seat before riding an attraction would be including an icon in the Park’s app to let Guests know which rides have test seats and where to find them, as Vaughn commented. “It still wouldn’t solve a lot of the situations because people don’t necessarily think about it, but it would be a start.”

Map of Universal's Islands of Adventure in the Universal Orlando Resort App
Credit: Discover Universal Blog

“Again, universal, thank you so much for what you’re looking at doing. Those are my concerns about it. But keep trying and keep striving, and let’s make everything better and more accessible for as many people as possible,” added Jason before ending his video, which you can watch by clicking here.

More on theme park accessibility for plus-sized Guests

While theme parks are slowly trying to become more accessible for Guests with special needs, some of their latest rides have ignited a heated debate online.

Earlier this year, Universal Studios Hollywood received harsh critics due to size restrictions on its newest ride, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, the only ride in Universal’s SUPER NINTENDO WORLD expansion. Similarly, Walt Disney World Resort faced severe criticism after the opening of TRON Lightcycle / Run, which Jason campaigned to “fat test” in late 2022, as the seats are highly restrictive and the roller coaster only operates with a few larger vehicles for Guests with accessibility needs.

External Shot of TRON attraction and signage at Disney World
Credit: Disney

Inside the Magic reported on a mother who went under an extreme weight loss regime because she “was too big” for the rides at Disneyland and the devastating story of a Guest who was fat-shamed and humiliated at Cedar Point — a popular theme park in Sandusky, Ohio. Additionally, Inside the Magic shared the story of Heather O’Neill, who called out theme parks, saying that “rides aren’t built for fat people.”

Do you think theme parks should be doing more to accommodate bigger Guests? Share your opinion with Inside the Magic in the comments below!

in Theme Parks, Universal Orlando

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