Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Fat Girl's Guide to the Magic Kingdom


My name is  Jill, and I'm fat. I'm not big-boned, I don't have a metabolism problem-- I just really like food. I prefer not to sugar-coat the truth, because frankly?  I'd probably eat that, too.

The first time I visited Walt Disney World, I was 5'3, well over 300lbs, and terrified. Was I too fat to enjoy the parks? Would I fit on the rides? I put the trip off again and again, hoping to lose just a few more pounds.

I wasted so much time being self-conscious. Walt Disney World is, by far, the most size-friendly destination in the country. Disney recognizes that guests come in all shapes and sizes, and has designed their attractions so that families can experience every magical moment of their vacation together.

 Before having gastric bypass surgery last month, I took one last trip to Disney as a fat girl. My mission? To evaluate every attraction for fat-friendliness so that I could alleviate the concerns of every plus-sized aspiring Disney princess.

The Magic Kingdom is home to so many incredible experiences, and the Disney Gals only have so much space, so I'll only discuss the attractions that I believe might pose a problem for larger guests. If it's not listed here-- enjoy! You'll have plenty of room, and plenty of fun!

Note: In the Magic Kingdom, the biggest (pun intended!) issue for guests of size will absolutely be the turnstiles on the older attractions, like Carousel of Progress and the Walt Disney World Railroad. I could get through  by turning sideways and standing on my tiptoes and sucking in my tummy, but do not be afraid to ask for assistance if it is too tight.  If you have any doubt about being able to fit, it is better to ask a cast member to open an adjacent accessible gate than it is to struggle through the turnstile and find yourself stuck. Don't be a hero!


For comparison's sake, my waist measurement at the time of my last visit was 48", and my hip measurement was 56".  I am going to leave my bust measurement to the reader's imagination, because my grandmother will probably read this.

Adventureland:

  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin are the perfect size for two smaller adults, or one large adult and one small child. If there are two larger adults in your party, each of you will need to tell the attendant you're a party of one, so that you can share a carpet-- one in front and one in back. Seat belt extenders are available-- just ask a cast member.

Frontierland:
  • Splash Mountain has bench seats, and the lap bar allows plenty of clearance for even the largest of individuals, but be careful when riding this with smaller members of your party-- I noticed that, when the lap bar was pulled tight for me, it wasn't tight enough to restrain my small child safely. Fortunately, I was able to alert a cast member quickly and re-seat my son with my husband. If possible, group the smallest members of your party together to ensure a snug fit for everyone.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was a snug fit for me and a smaller adult, but I've ridden it comfortably many times with a larger child/teenager. The lap bar fit issue isn't a problem here, as the drops are much milder than Splash Mountain.
Liberty Square:
  • The Doombuggies in the Haunted Mansion will easily accommodate two larger adults. It is important to note, however, that the lap bar will close on its own. Do not be alarmed!
Fantasyland:
  • The Mad Tea Party was the only ride in the Magic Kingdom that I had any trouble with. While I fit into the ride, getting in and out of the teacup vehicle through the tiny door was difficult. If you're agile enough, I suggest putting one foot up onto the bench and then hopping 'over' the door. If not, again, do not be afraid to ask for help.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has small bench seats that will accommodate two smaller adults, one larger adult and a child, or one larger adult on her own.
  • I have not had the chance to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train yet, but many other plus-size guests have reported that the vehicles will NOT accommodate larger riders. I have seen several sources put the hip-to-hip distance of the lap bar at 13". For comparison's sake, my lap measures 14" across, and my husband's lap is 16" across at 5'8 and 240lbs. The lap bar MUST fit over your lap and across your legs. This would be the only attraction in any of the four parks that I would suggest that larger riders consider skipping.
Storybook Circus:

  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant is a spinner ride similar to Aladdin, but only seats one row of riders per vehicle.  I would suggest larger adults sit by themselves unless there is a small child in your party. If you need a seatbelt extender, ask for assistance.
  • The Barnstormer is considered a child's coaster, so I was surprised when I fit into the vehicle easily. The vehicle is roomy enough for one larger adult and one small to medium child, or two larger adults. The adjustable bar allows plenty of clearance room for larger tummies. Note: Do not be afraid to ride this without a child. I saw many, many grown-ups sitting by themselves on this coaster. It's a quick, fun little ride, and the theming is adorable.
Tomorrowland: 
  • Despite many complaints from larger riders I've talked to, Space Mountain has the roomiest, most comfortable seats of any roller coaster I've ever ridden. You will be seated single file, one rider per row, in a bobsled-style vehicle, with a t-bar that lowers between your legs and over your lap. There is a marked difference in leg room between the front seat of each bobsled car and the two seats behind it, so if you have long legs, ask a cast member for assistance.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway's cars are too snug for a larger adult to ride with anyone except the smallest child the ride allows-- I would suggest that plus-size adults ride alone. Seat belt extenders were not available at this ride as of February of 2014.
  • The Astro Orbiter's seats fit a larger adult comfortably, but I would recommend riding alone. I was able to ride with my seven year-old but I wasn't very comfortable.  Seat belt extenders are available. Note: It is difficult to enter this ride vehicle without being able to climb into the rocket. If you have mobility concerns, see a cast member. 
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin's vehicles are similar to the Haunted Mansion's Doombuggies, with one rather odd and  incredibly specific caveat: If you are a larger woman with an ample bosom and tummy, I would  NOT recommend  holding an infant or toddler on your lap. The ride vehicle and lap bar close automatically, and if you find that you or your infant are uncomfortable, you are stuck through the entire long, slow ride. 
I hope all of this information will help ease your mind about your first trip to Disney World, but the most important advice I can give is not to worry for a moment. The rule of thumb here is simple: If you want to ride/see/experience it? Don't let your size stop you. Try EVERYTHING. Especially the grey stuff-- It's delicious!

18 comments:

  1. Wonderful post!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your straight-forward and funny approach!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for this. Very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is wonderful advice. I'm not a dainty woman, and the family is planning a trip this winter. I'll be back to check for more fat chick info.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Awesome!! We hope to make our maiden trip to Disney within the next year, and neither of us are small people.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kudos! This is a resource I never knew I needed until now: I am SO glad you posted about this. To be honest, my weight gain over the last 2 years is why I have stopped going to theme parks! You're addressing a real issue here, and you did it with fun and honestly! Thank you!

    ~Cathy~
    OurMiniFamily.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great info. Seriously. Thank you for this and I'm totally sharing. I'm glad you were able to enjoy your trip!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for this post. I am always really anxious about theme parks because of my size and not wanting to limit my kids so, to date, they have only attended with their aunts or grandparents. This helps me feel more confident.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for this. So disappointed in the Dwarfs ride though. I was looking forward to a new ride but looks like it's out. Though I might not have rode it anyway, the only thrill rides my stomach can handle are Big Thunder and Splash Mountain. Maybe by next year they'll have a tester vehicle? I'm not sure where on the lap the 13" are because on me it depends (big belly, average thighs, weirdness).
    Again, thank you so much for this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is great information! Thanks for your candor. Would love to know about the rides at all the other Disney parks as well as we are going in January.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sorry, what is the lap measurement? I mean, from what to what do I measure on myself or husband for the lap measurement. Thank you for this article.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I rode Seven Dwarves Mine train. I'm large. It was painful. It seats a lot like expedition Everest. I have heard that a larger person can put one leg in each side and pull the lap down and sit that way. Otherwise the sides of your thighs hurt bad.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is a great article. As a larger woman of over 300lbs whose spouse is also 300+ lbs, I would like to add that we also love going to Disney!! You are correct, many, many rides and attractions are ok for larger people. Outside of the ones you have listed here, in Hollywood studios we have found both the Muppet Theater and Little Mermaid Musical uncomfortable. We have had no real problems at Epcot or Animal Kingdom that I can think of although I will note that we have not ridden the Mt. Everest Ride at Animal Kingdom. It would be the only one that I would think may have issue for larger people like myself.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you so much for this post. As a large boy, I was worried about my first trip to WDW next month. (I still am, but not so much right now). I was just afraid of being embarrassed trying to fit in some ride.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was able to for on Mine Train but I wouldn't say it was exactly comfortable. The molded seating used was VERY tight. I ride once as the only person in my row and it was much more comfortable than when someone was next to me

    ReplyDelete
  16. A word of caution. I was a bigger woman when I went to WDW. In Animal Kingdom I got kicked off ride, the rapid ride, as the seatbelt would not go around me. My husband is a bigger man and it fit him just fine. I was about 450 at that time but can't wait to go back and get on the rapids now. It will be in the next few years :)

    ReplyDelete