Will Universal Studios rides fit my plus size? That's a question a lot of plus size women (and men) ask themselves when they're deciding whether or not to go to a Universal Theme Park.
Many overweight people wonder, what is the weight limit for rides at Universal Studios Orlando? Or, is there a weight limit for Harry Potter ride? Being overweight at Universal Studios theme parks can be stressful if you don't know the answers to the questions. The Harry Potter rides are the biggest concern. Luckily, I've been there and I've done some research.
I talk about my experience with whether Universal Studio rides fit and I share what others have said about how to find out if Universal Studios rides fit when you're there. I also compare Universal Studios plus size riders' experiences to Disney World and Disneyland experiences.
Watch my YouTube video about whether or not Universal Studios rides fit your size. Or, jump ahead to a certain section using the time stamps I've listed below.
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Learn From My Mistakes 0:03
I went to Universal Studios Orlando in 2019. I'm an idiot because I never remember that there might be a problem fitting in the rides until I'm actually getting into the ride. I'm old enough now that I should know better. You think I'd make that connection but I haven't.
So, every time I went to get into the ride, I was like, “Oh, crap. That's right. Let's see if this bar fits.” So, it wasn't really top of mind for me.
But when I started posting pictures on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook about my visit to Universal Studios Orlando, I started getting all these private messages and DMs asking, did you have trouble fitting in the rides? What about this ride? Was it a bar, was it a pullover and what did you wear? And were you comfortable? How far did you have to walk? And all these other questions that made me think, wow, I didn't think this through. There are some serious concerns about what it's like to visit a theme park when you're plus size.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 3:39
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is inside the Hogwarts castle. The ride has a pullover bar, the kind that goes over your shoulders and smooshes your chest. It was a tight fit. There's also not a huge seat to sit on because they pick you up and move you all over the place. You're surrounded screens and you get shaken up and lifted and dropped and it's pretty fast.
I'll be honest. I missed part of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey because I shut my eyes. It was just too scary for me in the Forbidden Forest when the Dementors came. It was too much, too much.
The ride swings you around a lot. Now, I read online that if you are at all uncomfortable with getting into that ride that they will still let you wait in line, which you should totally do. Because here's the thing: Half of the awesome part of that ride is walking through the Hogwarts castle. If you use the express lane, you'll miss a lot of great stuff. You get to see the Mirror of Erised, the Herbology classroom, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and other “things” that I won't spoil.
Bottom Line: If you don't think you'll fit in the ride, you can still go through the castle. When you get to the end where people are getting into the ride, you can just leave through a side exit (ask and they'll let you, no biggie) and wait for your friends outside.
Flight of the Hippogriff 5:38
The Flight of the Hippogriff is little roller coaster that is in the Hogsmeade area of Islands of Adventure. This was the ride I had the most trouble with as a plus size woman. I'm guessing it's because they figure that kids are mostly riding this ride.
Flight of the Hippogriff is a regular old roller coaster with a straight lap bar. I had a lot of trouble with rides that have lap bars. I guess my belly is bigger than my chest, which is why the rides with pullover bars weren't so difficult to fit into.
I was concerned that the ride operators were going to say, hey, get off, but they didn't. The guy came over and wrenched it down. It fit.
My son sat next to me in the little roller coaster car. And when I saw little car, I mean it. That car is small. My son is much, much thinner than I am. That poor guy; I nearly smashed him. So, if you're going to ride Flight of the Hippogriff and you're worried about smashing someone, here's a tip: You can request to be in a car by yourself, which I didn't know at the time. I saw people in cars by themselves, but it never occurred to me to ask for that. And I really should have because then I wouldn't have crushed my son quite so much. and the cars are not wide. Like we were, we were, you know, two peas in a pod right there. We were up against each other. It's a tiny ride, tiny ride and it's fun. It's short. But I will say if you have to miss it because you're worried about it, I said not much.
You do get to see Buckbeak on his nest at the beginning of the ride, but that's really the only exciting thing. The ride is very short.
Hogwarts Express 7:49
The Hogwarts Express runs between Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and an area in Universal Studios that's adjacent to Diagon Alley. As a plus size person, you won't have any trouble on the train.
Frankly, the Hogwarts Express was my favorite part of the Wizarding World at Universal Studios in Orlando because you are completely enveloped in the world. Nothing you see in that train car is real life. The window is a TV screen that shows you the countryside going by
Be sure to ride the train both ways because what happens on the train changes each way. However, to ride the Hogwarts Express both ways, you have to have a park hopper pass to do that.
I don't want to give anything away, but let me just say, it's like you're really riding the Hogwarts Express. Plus, it's a big, roomy compartment.
Escape From Gringotts 9:30
The Escape from Gringotts seems to be the biggest concern for plus size people at Universal Studios Orlando. The ride has a lap bar, not a pullover bar. It is super snug, but there's a reason: At one point, you're tipped over, facing down like you're going to fall out (of course, you don't fall out). That's why the bar is a lap bar. You're not completely upside down, but you are definitely close to downward facing dog.
The line is really long and again, if you don't think you can fit in the ride, I suggest at least waiting in line because going through Gringotts is awesome. You get to see the goblins and offices and scenes that you otherwise wouldn't get to see.
I really liked this ride. Although the bar was tight, the ride car was slightly roomier. My son and daughter fit in the car with me, no problem.
I didn't really have any trouble with this one, and I wear a size 20 or 2X. Universal Studios has sample seats where you can see if you fit, but they're far along the line and you have to try them in front of everybody in line. You could pretend that someone is taking your picture while you try out the seats. That would be a sneaky way of seeing if you fit or if you're comfortable. Then, you can stay in line until you get up to the ride and duck out the “emergency” exit.
Celestina Warbeck 11:50
When I was researching whether or not plus size people can fit into Universal Studios rides, the shows in Diagon Alley weren't talked about at all.
One of the things in Diagon Alley that I really enjoyed was watching the Celestina Warbeck show. You may recall, Celestina Warbeck is a singer that the Weasleys and Harry are listening to on the wireless radio on Christmas Even. I believe she (and Mrs. Weasley) sing “A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love. The show was awesome. The singer we saw was fabulous and her back-up singers were fantastic too.
However — and here's my point — there's nowhere to sit. The kids and I sat on the ground and, let me tell you, getting up and down was not graceful for me. There are no chairs or benches. There's nowhere really to sit. You can either lean against something, stand or sit on the ground, if there's room. You can't sit on the steps of the stage or anywhere near the stage. I don't mind telling you my behind was a little numb when I stood up.
If you decide to sit on the ground to watch the show, I recommend nabbing a space right after the previous show. (There are a few different shows there, including a recreation of the Deathly Hallows story.) As soon as a show was done, boom, I sat down so that I would have a really good seat because Celestina Warbeck was one of the main attractions in Diagon Alley for me. So worth the numb bum.
Shops and Crowds 13:31
The shops, Diagon Alley and the middle of Hogsmeade get really crowded. Inside the shops, it's really tight. I was constantly trying not to knock stuff off the shelves. Borgin and Burkes, in Knockturn Alley, was the one that I felt the most comfortable in. Most of the shops are super small between the merchandise aisles, especially Honeydukes. I could barely move in Honeydukes.
Hogsmeade itself is just a mess of people, because there's a big, open area in the middle of it. There's just too many people milling about in that area. They didn't manage the crowd as well in Hogsmeade as they did in Diagon Alley.
What to Wear 14:24
A lot of people messaged me to ask what I wore to Universal Studios Orlando. First, let me tell you, I don't like the heat. I did not wear robes. Even though we were there in February, it was still around 80ºF. I saw people in robes, but my Gryffindor robes are fairly heavy so no way was I going to wear them. There are lightweight robes for sale at Universal Studios, or maybe your robes are lightweight. That might work, but if you tend to overheat, even lightweight robes might be too much.
I wore a different Harry Potter t-shirt every day. We were there for three days, so I had no trouble wearing a different Harry Potter shirt. (I have a lot of them. Still didn't stop me from buying a Borgin and Burkes t-shirt, which is now my favorite.)
I recommend only wearing robes if you know that the heat won't bother you.
Tips and Tricks for Getting Plus Size Intel 17:54
I read lots of blog posts and Reddit threads about whether Universal Studios rides fit a plus size person and found out there are sneaky ways of getting bigger seats or asking a ride operator if you'll fit. These are like code words.
Some rides have seats that are made for heavier riders. You can ask discreetly if there is a larger seat for you. Don't worry! They're used to it. Don't you dare feel bad about that and don't you dare get embarrassed.
Another option, a sneaker option, is to ask, Excuse me, which seat do you think I should sit in? Or, excuse me, do you have any special seating? Something along those lines. The ride operators know what you're saying without you having to spell it out. These people are prepped for this exact situation.
Some rides, like The Hulk and The Mummy have seats out front for you to try. Again, you can pretend to have your picture taken in the seats if you don't want to look obvious about seeing if they fit.
In general, the last row of a ride is generally a little bit more spacious for plus size patrons.
Disney Ride Intel
It's been a few years since I went to Disney World in Orlando. I didn't have any issues. I don't know that I went on all the rides, but I definitely didn't have any issues.
According to folks online, Disney does a way better job at accommodating plus size folks. They call it “Pooh” size. Disney has two sizes of seats on their rides.
One blogger said you should not hesitate to ask a Disney “cast member” for your own car or for a larger seat. She said the cast members are super knowledgeable and have a wealth of information.
Get this, at Disney, you can ask for seatbelt extenders on some of the rides.
The only ride that people didn't fit in at Disney World was the Avatar ride. But that was when the ride first opened. The ride may accommodate people now; I don't know.
So, if you're looking for a theme park to visit because they can specifically accommodate plus sized people, Disney sounds like a better bet.
Is Universal Studios Worth It If I Don't Fit? 26:13
I had more than one person say, I don't want to spend all this money and then go to Universal Studios and then not fit into the rides. Is it still worth going?
It depends on how much of a nerd you are. I'm such of a nerd that I didn't care if the Universal Studios rides fit. Yes, I loved the rides, but my favorite part of Universal Studios Orlando was just walking around and visiting the shops. I loved eating at the Leaky Cauldron and eating at the Three Broomsticks. I loved looking in the windows of Madame Puddifoot's and Flourish and Blotts Bookstore and all of the other storefronts. I love costumed characters and all the spectacle that goes with visiting a theme park.
To me, it was all worth it. The photo op alone were worth it to me. I am that much of a nerd that paying the ticket price is worth it to me. But you have to decide that on your own.
Got more questions? DM me on Twitter or Instagram. You can also watch my interview with Corina from Magically Potteresque who has insider tips and tricks about getting the most out of Universal Studios Orlando. (She lives in Orlando and goes every weekend!)