There’s nothing worse than standing about in a ride queue for the better part of an hour only to reach your magical destination and discover you can’t ride. As a Cast Member, one of the worst things about working at load positions was turning guests away. At the entrance it’s a natural part of the job, but on busy days there were always a few guests who slipped through and wasted a chunk of their day waiting for an attraction they couldn’t experience.
While Cast Members and Team Members are supposed to keep an eye out for guests who won’t be able to ride an attraction, many limitations are difficult or even impossible to see with the naked eye. Even when an issue is obvious, it’s possible for guests to slip through in the crowd. Take control of your own schedule and check for these issues yourself to make sure you never waste time for an attraction you can’t enjoy.
1. Minimum and maximum height restrictions
This is one of the most obvious limitations for riders, but there are still plenty of guests who bypass the height sign confidently thinking it’s more of a guideline than an actual rule. Sorry, guys. Height restrictions are set in stone. If your child’s head doesn’t physically touch the bottom ledge of the height sign, we can’t allow him or her on the attraction.
Forty inches is the most common height restriction, but some rides allow children as small as 34”, as in the case of Universal’s E.T. Adventure. On the upper end of the spectrum, Dragon Challenge at Universal’s Islands of Adventure has a minimum height requirement of 54”.
Minimum height requirements aren’t the only restriction you’ll run into, either. Universal also has attractions with maximum height requirements. This means that you can be too tall for the ride as well as too short. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit doesn’t permit anyone over 79” tall. Pteranodon Flyers is a tricky one. Guests ride in pairs, and at least one member of the duo must be between 36” and 56” tall. Those over 56” tall can’t ride alone.
2. Limits on body size
This issue is most common at Universal. There are several roller coasters in the Universal theme parks that have very restrictive safety devices. These typically pull down over your shoulders and must lock into place in order for you to ride the attraction. Some only have lap bars, but these still need to lock down before you can ride.
Guests who have larger body dimensions will often find that they can’t fit within these safety devices. The more muscular you are, the more trouble you’ll have, because it’s virtually impossible to squish a safety bar down over a hard, muscular frame that’s too large. In the case of an innovative ride system like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, even broad shoulders are a limitation because you sit back into a small box-like space.
Attractions with a limit on the guest’s body size have test seats out front. You may have to shoo away silly guests who think these are made for photo ops, but it’s worth the effort to sit down and look for the green light. If you don’t fit, you will be turned away at the attraction.
3. Rules for accompaniment
Both Disney and Universal have rules in place to prevent small children from riding alone. At Disney, a child must be at least seven years old to ride alone. Children under the age of seven must be accompanied by someone age 14 or older.
Universal uses height restrictions instead of age. If an attraction has a height restriction, you’ll typically find that children under 48” must be accompanied by someone who is at least 48” or taller. This also applies to some attractions without a height restriction. Children of any height cannot ride Caro-Seuss-el or the Hogwarts Express without a companion who is at least 48” tall.