|by Brad Tuttle||Amusement and Theme Parks||9|
Are some theme park guests too big to ride rollercoasters safely?
For obvious reasons, rollercoaster seat harnesses and straps must fit snugly over riders. That's a problem for riders who are too tall, too broad, or just plain too large to squeeze into the seats and safety equipment.
Increasingly, though, adjustments are being made to rollercoasters so that riders of all size can enjoy the thrills. The UK's Daily Mail reports that Thorpe Park, in Surrey, is adding larger seats to its Nemesis Inferno ride, and it plans to introduce seats and harnesses specially designed to accommodate larger guests on other rides as well. Thorpe Park's Mike Vallis told the newspaper:
"The reality is that we are super-sizing - and that's a fact we're embracing. Why shouldn't people be comfortable when they are enjoying a day out with their friends or family?"
The supersizing of coasters may have made news, but it's not necessarily new. Many rollercoasters in the U.S., in fact, already make special accommodations so that the obese and oversized can ride.
Robert Niles, who edits Theme Park Insider and wrote "Confessions of a Disney Cast Member" for Budget Travel, tells USA Today that most roller coasters built in recent years have been designed to somehow allow overweight guests to ride safely and comfortably:
"Every new coaster I've seen in the past several years either has special seats or rows for larger riders, or extension options so that the restraints can hold larger riders."
This is only smart business: If a large portion of the public is banned from many of a theme park's best rides, fewer people will bother paying the price of admission.
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