A plus-sized woman criticized theme parks for not making allowances for larger people, saying it’s important to “make spaces inclusive for all bodies and accessibility needs”.
Heather O’Neill, 26, from Kent, said she almost canceled a recent trip to Thorpe Park over fears that because she is size 24-26 she wouldn’t be able to fit in the seats.
To raise awareness of the issue, O’Neill made videoes of her experiences at Thorpe Park and shared them on TikTok.
Although she found the majority of ride seats did accommodate her, she did not fit in all ride seats but was still allowed to go on the ride.
She said of one ride: “I tried to go on Colossus anyway – didn’t fit but staff were really nice and discreet and gave me a fast pass to another ride, so not bad.”
She added: “The fact that I even have to think about if I will fit the rides is the first difference [in being a plus size customer].
“The feeling nervous before going, the pushing the seat down trying to get it to close. Worrying about how safe the ride will be for me after that poor man died on a ride in America.”
The mental health student nurse said she also has the same concerns about flying, worrying about whether the seat will be too small or if she’ll need a seat belt extender.
“I used all the test seats that I could find, which most people don’t have to do,” added Heather. “But rides aren’t built for plus size/fat people, it’s about accessibility and making spaces inclusive for all bodies and accessibility needs.”
But Heather noted the problem had nothing to do with the staff, who she described as ‘helpful and kind’.
She argues the problem, is that ‘society isn’t built for anyone who is outside of society’s norm of straight, able-bodied and slim’, whether that be theme parks, airplanes, or buses.
Many people thanked the TikToker for highlighting the issue, with one writing: “Thank you for normalizing this! No one should miss out because of the anxiety this creates!”
Another said: “Wish they could put test seats in a booth or something, not out in the open. I’d get so anxious having to do it in front of ppl.”
“I’m so so grateful for this,” commented a third. “I would have NEVER gone to a theme park before but might just have to try now!”
Others were happy to see theme parks introducing test seats, including this person who wrote: “I went to Alton Towers years ago and it was humiliating having to get off rides instead.”
A spokesperson for Thorpe Park said: “At Thorpe Park Resort, we care deeply about creating magical experiences that are inclusive for all of our guests.
“We have always strived to create accessible attractions where people can be themselves and enjoy fun experiences together.
“From team training to listening to guest feedback, our priority is always focused on ensuring every one of our guests enjoys a magical day out with us at the UK’s most thrilling theme park.”