'It won't shut:' New Disney World ride draws major controversy over seat size
ORLANDO - Some riders of Disney’s TRON Lightcycle are criticizing the ride’s seat size, saying it’s too small and many guests don’t fit on it. The ride is set to open to the public in April but opened for previews in Orlando recently.
"Going into it, I was nervous the whole time, or I was even skeptical like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to fit this one,’" Jeff Jenkins, travel expert, said.
Jenkins is an Orlando native and said he could tell by looking at Disney’s "Tron" that it could pose some issues for his size, when he tried to ride it at Shanghai Disneyland. The seat is like a motorcycle.
"So, it’s more of like your hips and your thigh area that it doesn’t close the right way and so since you can’t lock in that way. It won’t fit. It won’t shut," Jenkins said.
Jenkins was able to ride the coaster, but not on the standard seat. He said attendants offered him the back, handicapped seat instead, which comes with a lap belt.
He’s not the only one. People on social media have been commenting that they also didn’t fit in the Tron Lightyear seat during previews of the ride in Orlando.
One rider tweeted, "Tried the test seat and my thighs/calves are too big for the leg bar to fully extend out."
Another person tweeted, "My 5’7 daughter who weighs 170 had a hard time getting on and off. She [said] it’s not made for bigger people."
Jenkins, who runs an online platform for plus-sized travelers called "Chubby Diaries," said it’s a familiar issue for larger guests at any theme park.
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"It’s disappointing. It can be embarrassing at times. You can feel isolated," Jenkins said.
"Amusement ride restraints are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution," Ken Martin, amusement ride safety consultant and analyst, said.
Martin said the size of the average rider should be considered in the design of rides, especially considering 40% of U.S. adults are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
"I appreciate that you have feelings, but when it comes to safety, feelings have to go to the side," Martin said.
Disney’s website shows riders must be 48 inches or taller to ride Tron. It does not list a weight limit and does not give seat measurements.
It does say, "the seating and restraints on this attraction may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding."
In a statement to Fox 35, a Disney spokesperson said:
"We offer the opportunity for guests to test the restraint system outside the attraction before entering the queue. A bench seat with lap bar is also available for guests with disability or fit concerns to experience the attraction if accessibility for this unique ride system is a concern."
Jeff with "Chubby Diaries" said Disney offers all the accommodations that he recommends for larger guests, including checking out a test seat in front of the ride before getting in line and asking for an alternate, larger seat. He also suggests checking a theme park’s website for each ride’s specific accommodations.
He’s on a mission to make both safety and inclusiveness possible at all theme parks, including larger seats to accommodate larger people.
"I’ve met with CEOs of large brands, and they’ve told me ‘you know what? I just never actually thought of that.'"
"Those safety measures can be accounted for in the building of the ride," Jenkins said.
Fox 35 asked Disney if the company is looking into rider complaints about the Tron seat. Fox 35 also asked if there is a weight limit for the ride and if so, how it is enforced. So far, we have not heard back.