“You will want to sit in seat B.”
Those were the words the attendant on the Hulk roller coaster at Universal Studios said to me as he directed me to row 4.
That was our first ride on the first day at our first park on our Orlando vacation last month. As we shuffled on and lined up in row 4 I completely disregarded what he (the attendant) said. I don’t even think it registered at the time that he was talking to me when he said it. As I sat down in seat C (my husband in seat B) I had a moment of panic as the seatbelt couldn’t quite reach the buckle. My worst nightmare was about to come true, I’m too fat. I’m going to be asked to leave the ride. But within seconds a ride attendant came down the line to check the seat and snapped it in. Phew.
“I can barely breathe,” I remember saying this and my husband remarking how he had so much space.
Still didn’t register.
And even though I was clipped in securely (albeit tightly) all I could think about as the coaster plummeted down its first hill was that my buckle was going to snap open and that I was going to plunge to my death.
As the coaster came to a halt and the adrenaline stopped pumping I was so relieved.
As the shoulder harnesses unlocked I saw it immediately. J’s seat had two seatbelts.
Seat B was, as Universal puts it, for people with “different body proportions.”
F*ck. The attendant took one look at my body composition and knew I would need the extra room.
Don’t get me wrong, I f**king love that theme parks are trying to accommodate those who need it. I just never imagined I’d be someone who did.
That moment is one I won’t soon forget. And though we rode nearly a dozen other comparable rides over the course of our trip, it was the only one that my weight had an obvious safety risk attached to. Sure, some of the Disney World rides were a tad tight but they were for others in my group as well of much smaller body dimensions.
It didn’t stop me from scanning other people in the lines of every single ride we waited for where I’d lock eyes on someone of my size or larger. “If they can ride this, so can I,” I would think to myself.
This is just one of the things Plus sized people need to think/worry about every single day. Not everything is designed for anyone who exceeds the average size. This includes movie theatre chairs, airplane seats, products with weight limitations (including rides) and just about anything that requires you to “fit” where someone smaller can.
Rides aside, Disney World, in particular, did a number on my body. Nothing highlights just how out of shape you are then walking 5-10 miles a day on flat concrete carrying a hundred extra pounds of weight. Ouch. The pain I felt only an hour into each 10+ hour day was unbearable. Something I never wish to put myself through again.
I’m certainly not trying to discount the trip. It was an amazing trip with my beautiful family and the memories will last a lifetime surely. But I will never forget how much harder it was for me than it should have been. I will never forget having to worry “will I fit on this ride” over and over again. Rides are something I love and my body robbed me of the enjoyment of this.
I’m surely not done riding roller coasters. The Happiest Place on Earth will definitely see me again, and next time I will be able to comfortably sit in whatever seat I want.