Monday, June 28, 2010
Harry Potter Fans Deemed Too Heavy for 'Wizarding World' Ride
From yahoo, Most people remember the feeling of not being tall enough to ride an amusement park ride, but some would-be riders of the signature attraction at Universal Studios' new "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park in Orlando are being turned away because of their girth. The ride, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," employs individual restraints to keep each guest tucked in to his or her seat, but the restraints aren't large enough to accommodate heavier riders.
Universal seems to have anticipated this issue, stationing staff "wizards" and test-seats along the line and at the entrance to Forbidden Journey. Riders test their ability to fit in the seats, as well as the restraint (which must click three times to be deemed safe and for the potential rider to be allowed into the attraction).
One Harry Potter fan, Jeff Guillaume of Lansing, Michigan, expressed disappointment on his "Harry Potter" fan site after he failed the test. Guillaume is 5'8" and weighs 265 pounds, and says the restraint wouldn't fit over his torso, though he reports that other rides at the park have special cars reserved for bigger riders.
Universal, which doesn't have "specific weight limits (just the test seats and a requirement that riders be at least 48 inches tall), says the "body dimension" restrictions are "to ensure the safety of our guests. It's #1."
That's all fine and good, but considering the average weight of an American man is 191 pounds (and rising: in 1960 it was 166 pounds), "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" could be turning away quite a few potential revelers.
Universal isn't the first theme-park operator to deal with issues raised by the growing rate of obesity in the United States. In 2007, Disney had to modify the "It's a Small World" ride after weighted-down boats began regularly getting stuck in the plume.
One Harry Potter fan who was unable to ride "Forbidden Journey" when his seat test yielded only two clicks of the restraint, is turning the incident into a personal motivational challenge. Banks Lee, who says he's 6'2? and approximately 310 lbs, has decided to diet and exercise until he can get on the ride (and hopes to continue his quest even after meeting that goal.) He's even started a blog: Banks Lee and the Three Clicks: My Journey to Fit on an Enchanted Bench, where the Orlando resident is documenting the long walks and sensible diet that he hopes will lead to a ride on "The Forbidden Journey."