All thrill rides have a height limit – “You must be this tall to ride” – and the brand new Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal’s Islands of Adventure is no exception. You must be at least 48 inches tall to ride. But it’s not the minimum height some guests are having trouble with, it’s their width.
Forbidden Journey is located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It doesn’t have its grand opening until June 18, but they’ve been holding previews each morning. It seems many guests have been saying they can’t try the new ride because they can’t fit in the seat.
Banks Lee is one of those people. Banks is pictured above left, meeting Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative. (Thanks to Banks for letting us post his picture.) Banks is 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighs about 310 pounds. But it’s not his height that’s a problem with the seats.
Dragon Challenge (formerly Dueling Dragons), the Incredible Hulk Coaster and other thrill rides use a similar over the head restraint that is used on Forbidden Journey, but Banks says this is the only ride in the Orlando area that he hasn’t been able to go on. (Although he does use special larger seats those coasters offer.)
Forbidden Journey isn’t a roller coaster, it’s a new type of ride in which the seats are on the end of a robotic arm, which moves along a track. (Learn more about the ride here.) Are the seats more snug to better hold the guests in, or is it used as a built-in weight limit? The ride doesn’t have any inversions like the roller coasters mentioned do, but it also doesn’t have the forward momentum to hold guests in their seats either. Maybe since the ride is still in technical rehearsals, the seats will be adjusted to allow larger guests, but there’s no indication that is the case.
If you’re worried you may not fit in the seats, there are special test seats outside Hogwarts and just before you get on the ride. The seats must click three times or you can’t ride. Banks was able to get two clicks with the help of a strong “wizard” working the attraction.
But Banks is the kind of guy who takes a negative and turns it into a positive. He’s made it his goal to lose enough weight to be able to ride Forbidden Journey. In fact, he’s just started a blog so everyone can follow along and track what he’s calling “Banks Lee and the Three Clicks”.
UPDATE: Some readers have been asking us if there is a tall height limit. In other words, can you be too tall to ride. As you can see in the ride seat photo above, a cover comes over your head when the restraint is brought down. I asked a couple of team members working the attraction and they didn’t know what the height limit would be, but I’m 6 foot 1 inches and after sitting down, I have about 6 inches of space above my head. So if you’re 6-foot 7-inches tall or shorter you should be OK.
But another limit I noticed was the width of the space you’re sitting in. If I sit back, my shoulders are barely able to squeeze in the space. But this isn’t a problem for me because I can roll my shoulders forward and grab the bar on the restraint and it feels comfortable. But those with very broad shoulders may have trouble.
I talked with a team member by the test seat outside the ride (pictured below) and she said they’re carefully monitoring how many people can and can’t make the green light come on. She didn’t know if they would be able make adjustments to better accommodate larger people in the future, but she had a clipboard and was taking notes. So there’s still hope for those who aren’t currently able to ride.
UPDATE: Universal has modified some of the seats to allow larger guests to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Read the story Here.