Being overweight or having a unique body shape can be a challenge to those who like to visit theme parks. Safety restraints in many amusement and theme park attractions can prohibit some from being able to ride or enjoy the experience because of their size. This is one of the reasons I love vacationing at Walt Disney World. They have some of the most size-inclusive attractions around. This allows me to enjoy almost everything I want. In today’s blog, I am going to share my experiences and some resources for your Disney vacation.
In this article, I will be speaking about my specific experiences. I am a 5-foot 8-inch woman that wears plus size clothing in the 28 to 30 size range. I will not give my specific weight but I am over 300 pounds. I am very apple shaped and my hips are fairly wide.
If you are concerned about the experience at any attraction please talk to a cast member when you arrive at the attraction. If there is a way for you to test a ride vehicle in advance they will assist you with this. I have heard that some rides have dedicated vehicle seating just for testing. I personally have never noticed this at Walt Disney World. I will keep a look out in my upcoming visit. Universal Orlando Resort, on the other hand, has test seats at the entrance of many attractions. Disney is more size-friendly so they may not feel the need to provide them.
The more you know the better the decision you can make in advance for planning your FastPass+ selections. AllEars.Net has a page dedicated to information at http://allears.net/tp/ridsiz.htm
Also over at Touring Plans, there are several blog posts that show a large portion of the attraction ride vehicles.
Shows and Theaters
Many of the shows at Walt Disney World are with bench seating. While this isn’t the most comfortable seating around, but at least you don’t have to worry about fitting. Some attractions like Muppet Vision 3D in Hollywood Studios and Mickey’s PhilharMagic in the Magic Kingdom have traditional theater seating with arm rests. I am not going to lie, for me, this is tough with my wide hips. Sitting straight down causes the arm rests to dig into my hips and can hurt. An approach that works for me is to sit on the edge of the seat and then slide back into the normal sitting position. This seems to be a little more comfortable.
Vehicles with Seat Belts
Test Track, Dinosaur, Star Tours, and Soarin’ are all very popular attractions that require the use of an individual seat belt. The good news is that the seat belts on these attractions are long. It is possible to be completely standing and latch the seat belt. But don’t. Personal experience on Star Tours : I tried this and there must be a sensor in the attraction that knew I wasn’t sitting. The cast member made our row re-do our seat belts and I think they knew I wasn’t seated when I fastened my belt. For me, my wide hips will block the buckle. Again I will sit on the edge of the seat or if I can’t do that I will sit twisted so that the buckle is completely clear to easily insert the metal end. Once it is latched, I will then sit normally. There is still some issue getting the button hit to release the belt at the end of the attraction, but normally someone with you in your party can easily hit the button for you. Soarin’ I think has a wider seat and I don’t have much of an issue there.
Some rides will use only one large belt for the entire seat that holds 2-3 people. Tomorrowland Speedway and Dumbo are examples of these types of restraints. Typically if you plan to have one larger person in your party sits with one smaller person; you should be OK. If you are really concerned about fitting you could ride as a solo.
Just about every Disney rollercoaster has a lap bar. The older attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will have one lap bar for the seat. This is tricky if you have a larger person paired with a smaller person because the bar will stop where the larger person needs it. When this happens the larger person in our family will then just cuddle and help the smaller one hold on so they don’t slide around as much.
On newer roller coasters like Expedition Everest and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, there are individual lap bars. These are nice and helps everyone to be more secure in their seat. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has a bar that comes down over your shoulders for each individual as it is a looping coaster. I typically have not seen issues with size on this coaster. I could imagine if you are tall this one could be an issue, though.
I have not had an issue with any coaster at Disney with the exception of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I fit. It hurts. It squishes my knees and legs together and I pray for the end of the ride. Why do I continue to ride this attraction? For the love of my sons. They love the attraction and I want to be on it with them. The only roller coaster I could not fit on is Sum of All Thrills at Epcot. It is slated to end operations September 13, 2016
One last topic I want to bring up is for those flying for their vacation. You will want to know the airline’s policy for customers of size. I frequently fly Southwest and I learned something researching this blog. They no longer require you to purchase an additional seat if you encroach on a neighboring seat. You may purchase a seat so that the plane is properly booked, but they will refund your money. Here is a link to the policy.
United is the other airline I fly frequently and they have a policy in place.
All this is to say, know your airline rules if you are not able to comfortably sit in a 17-inch wide seat with the armrests down, you may have to buy an additional seat.
Hope you found this information useful. If you have any additional tips to share I would love for you to post them in the comments.