Former Imagineer Criticizes Universal for ‘Inconsiderate’ Waistline Limit Design on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge Vehicles

Retired Imagineer Jim Shull has taken to Twitter as he often does to criticize Universal following continued social media dialogue about the size-restrictive seating on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge at Universal Studios Hollywood.

SNW Mario Kart Bowser Challenge USH 10

Shull’s full thread was posted on Twitter and reads as follows:

The new Mario Kart ride vehicle having a 40” waist limit is an example of designing first for the average Japanese guest without considering the waist dimension of the average U. S. guest. I designed ride vehicles with safe containment.

Safety is first always but companies must consider the customer or in this case park guest. If people can’t ride then companies lose money and they don’t want that. The solution is simple and cheaper than the alternative.

Rock n Roller Coaster, Crush’s Coaster, Casey Jr., Mater’s Junkyard are three examples. All were designed so anyone (with standard exceptions) could ride. This is not rocket science. Some string, a blue pencil and a roll of trace paper does the job. Digitize next step.

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is listed as being unavailable to guests whose waistline exceeds 40 inches, although a test seat is available and many guests with waists larger than 40in have made it aboard the attraction according to social media reports. Universal press representatives have reached out many times to media outlets to clarify that guests with larger waistlines may be able to ride on a case-by-case basis. They told one outlet “This guideline is not a specific restriction, but is instead meant to encourage guests to try a test seat or to speak with one of our Team Members before riding so they may comfortably and safely board the ride.”

Universal has repeatedly come under fire in recent years for its “restrictive” restraints on slower-moving rides which can often leave guests of larger sizes out. Criticism has aimed particularly at The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, also at Universal Studios Hollywood. Although these complaints date back as far as the opening of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey thirteen years ago when the seats which enclose guests on three size were not wide enough to accommodate many guests of size.

How do you feel about these restrictions? Let us know in the comments below!

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10 thoughts on “Former Imagineer Criticizes Universal for ‘Inconsiderate’ Waistline Limit Design on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge Vehicles”

  1. I have never been considered even a little heavy my entire life and I have a 38″ waist(and no pot belly). A 40″ waist restriction is ridiculous! Apparently Universal just took the ride measurements as is from Japan and made no changes. I guess their customers should go on a starvation diet before visiting.

  2. Size restrictions are a bad Public Relations issue. If it is going to limit the size of riders it’s going to decrease attendance. No one wants to be thrown off a ride for being too big.

  3. Universal uses this guideline for most of its rides. Based on this, I would recommend not going if you are larger than the 40 inch guideline so its not just this ride. It would be wise to not spend the money to visit this park considering the cost is very expensive, if you are larger than the guideline.
    Considering the intended audience for this ride, its just a poor decision overall.
    Its also a slow moving dark ride so there is no need for this type of restriction.
    The big problem here is if one family member wants to ride the others may not be able to join the person if they are too large. If I have a group of friends, and one is larger and they want to go, I would have to recommend another activity so they are not being left out on certain rides. This creates a very awkward situation. It creates an awkward situation if a group of friends is at the park and one who is a little bit bigger cannot ride. Being inclusive is important in this day and age. When a person gets to the ride entrance, its not possible to make a person lose enough weight to fit into the ride at that point, so we must design the ride so it at least fits the vast majority of people in a safe way with standard exceptions. If you are a very, very large person, you already know you won’t fit in the rides because you probably don’t fit in amusement rides at any park in this case, but if you are a little bigger than average, you won’t expect to not fit in the rides.

  4. If a Guest can’t fit, so be it! That is poor planning of the ride by whomever designed it and will cost money to retool – or they will lose ridership and revenue. Too bad! So sad! Might make the theme park mad!

  5. Relating to Disney to Universal is not apples to apples. They are yes both theme parks, but Disney is very much aimed towards being much more family friendly meanwhile Universal aims for the thrills. Now, of course there are exceptions to Universals restrictions, but majority of the restrictions are there because of safety. And time and time again the inclusivity comes into play, but we must remember that when you start making seats larger to fit adults, you then also increase the height requirements eliminating the smaller younger guests.

    Universal provides on Velocicoaster for example, 2 high speed launches (one out of the gate, and one to reach the top hat) which gets up to 70mph. 4 inversions, 155 foot tall top hat with a 80 degree drop.

    Test track is the fastest ride at Disney World and does not hit 70mph, hitting only 65mph and does not hold that speed for very long with no inversions. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has inversions yes, but it is also a MUCH slower coaster and only reaches a height at it’s peak of 80 feet in comparison and does not hold the same harnesses.

    People try time and time again to compare the two and there is just no comparison. Now, there are certainly rides that make zero reason for the restrictions. Like you mentioned secret life of pets. ET has seats that are not hip friendly to some and is another slow moving ride as just two examples.

    But then again you have Disney who allows babies on certain Magic Kingdom rides that are slow moving with no restraints and it will only take one person not paying attention and that kid being injured before there is uproar with DW too.

  6. Overweight riders lead to broken ride vehicles, very expensive ride vehicles, or slow boring ride vehicles. There is more to it than just “making the seats bigger”.

  7. He nailed it! This is Universal been cheap by copy and pasting Japan specs even though the average American is much taller and wider. And I love the hypocrisy of Universal. So concerned about safety my ass! Last Dec., couldn’t get on Life of Pets, but went on Jurassic World. In my row was 3 fairly big adults and one relatively fairly small girl. Pulled the lap bar down, I and my friend were snug, the father was a little loose and the girl had probably 5 inches between her and the bar. That final drop is far more dangerous than anything in LoP or Mario.

  8. It’s not just waistline size issues at Universal, we just went for Christmas ’22 and I am a taller individual with broad shoulders and the Harry Potter ride I barely fit in the test seat because the pull down shoulder harness was hitting the top of my shoulders so much.

    Really not tall person or upper body built oriented.

    This copy paste of Japan rides is disheartining.

    Really wanted to see Mario World, now I’m not so sure.


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