Drop Rides and riders height/weight

The recent incident at Icon Park was tragic and I feel bad for the family involved. My home park is Six Flags America in Maryland. Their drop ride is Voodoo Drop, which is a 140-foot drop ride with three "cars" with 4-riders each (total of 12-riders.) They have the over the shoulder restraints plus the seat belt between the legs. It's a simple ride. Get into the ride, go up, DROP, done. The ride is over in 30-seconds. It USED to be one of my favorite rides to get on.

I am 6-4", 190-pounds (Tall and skinny). I am right at the height limit for most big rides in all parks in America. I have been going to SFA for the past 15-years. I have been on Voodoo Drop hundreds of times over the years. In the past few years I have been challenged on my height and turned away from getting on. It is quite the embarrassing situation. Some 17-year old teenager takes me out of the seat that I am sitting in and asks me to check my height. Today, when they do this, I just get out of my chair and walk out of the ride. I don't even measure because I am tired of arguing, explaining that I have been riding this ride for years and that I fit perfectly fine in the seat. Yes, I am tall, but I am not some 350-pound man that can barely fit into the seat. I fit snug as a bug in the seat once it is locked and ready to go. The past two years I have not even tried to get on the ride as I don't like the stress of a confrontation. After this Icon Park tragedy, I probably will never get to ride it again in my life.

So my question is: "Can someone give me a good reason why an adult male, who is right at the MAX limit on height, be denied to ride?" I totally understand little kids who are not tall enough. Yes, they can slip out underneath restraints. Am I going to hit my head on something going up? No. Perhaps my shoulder blades are too high and the over the shoulder restraints are the issue? Nope, my shoulder blades are 2" below the top of the restraints. My belief is they are not taking into consideration all the different body types. Shaquille O'Neal is 7'1" and 325 pounds. The kid at Icon park was 6'5" and 340-pounds. So he was basically my height, but almost double my weight. I don't think they are taking in the height/weight issue on these rides. I can vividly remember multiple times where an overweight rider would try to get onto the Superman roller coaster. He met the height requirement, yet it took two employees jumping up and down on his lap bar, wedging the bar into his gut until the light went green.

Thanks for any responses. Spring is here and I am ready to ride some coasters!!

Last edited by DoubleMeatTaco,

I'm sorry, but if they remove you from the ride due to height and/or weight restrictions there are other rides you could try out. End of story. Safety/security of all guests matter first. You can always reach out to the ride manufacturer if you have an issue and explain to them how strongly you feel.

No, height restrictions do not take account body shape or size. But realistically, what do you expect? The ride ops are not there to make a judgement on everybody who turns up, they are guided by both a ) is the rider within the parameters of height set by the manufacturer and b) does the restraint lock at a point where the machine is ready to go? Both criteria needs to be satisfied and those criteria give the ride ops the tools they need to make that judgement. Blur those lines and accidents will happen, or at least chaos as people argue about their suitability to rides

Manufacturers will make rides as close to one size fits all as they can within those parameters - yes, for those of us who are at the top end of those restrictions it is rubbish to be turned away (and yes - being tall and medium build I have been turned away from many rides including some I have ridden before) but ultimately safety comes first.

Last edited by tallguy,

I feel your pain... I am 6'5" (6'6" with shoes on) and having to get height checked always sucks, especially for a ride you have been on before or really excited to get on. I literally just make the cut on the B&M wing coasters with the 78” limit (often the ride host is really debating hard to let me on or not…) but thankfully never denied. Surprisingly enough, the only ride I have ever been denied on for my height was Green Lantern at SFMM though out of some 300 coasters. Surprised I made it on the SROS variants to be honest (76” limit).

I don’t expect to get on Pantheon at BGW in a few weeks, given it’s 76” limit as well, which sucks. So that may make #2 of all time. But I won’t press it of course, plenty of other rides in the world…

From a ride designer perspective, those 6’4” and taller (for men) are rare… 99th percentile… So the ride manufacturers are choosing that height and designing as best they can to most typical adults. It’s not like we make up a nice chunk of the population, so for them to better design restraint systems, reach envelopes, etc… Referencing a majority of people are makes sense, which we are not. We are outliers for the most part.

That being said… What I hate is the inconsistencies, more than anything. Going back to the Pantheon example, I have ridden Velocicoaster dozens of times, never once even being asked about my height. Same with Taron, which had zero enforcement of any maximum height. Yet practically the same ride (I know, different trains slightly being lower and such) in the middle of a field, not surrounded by a ton of themeing/rockwork is strictly enforcing a 6’4” limit. So why is Intamin so strict with Pantheon compared to the others? Is it really because Intamin couldn’t budge one support a few degrees/inches offset to not have the problem? Seems silly.

At the end of the day it sucks, but not worth fighting over… So many other rides that don’t care about your height as long as you fit, including other drop towers (I personally never been once checked/denied on a drop tower, so that’s interesting SFA is strict on theirs!).

Yeah I hear ya. So only 1% of males are 6'4" or taller and I am in the 99th percentile. So that means that 6'4"+ enthusiasts are the rarest breed of all! 0.00009% type of thing. Eh, I am 51-years old and I can't handle the rides like I used to. "Sorry sir, you are too tall." Yes, Thank-you, I really didn't want to ride anyway even though my brain said it did. Actually, they are probably doing me a favor

People in The Netherlands are tall. It was nothing to see a group of female students walking down the street looking like they belonged to a professional basketball team. I’m an average 5’11” and I felt like a shrimp amongst those natives. The talls definitely fall in a category greater than 1%.
And consequently, as enthusiasts they suffer the same indignities that many of us Americans do due to our size. At the entrance to many rides there’s a bar over the queue and if your forehead hits it it’s a no-go. It’s quite a frequent topic amongst park goers and the cry is for manufacturers to be more accommodating. Sounds familiar.
Anyway, I’m thinking about our OP, DoubleMeatTaco and his VooDoo drop. If I recall, that ride is a 2nd gen Intamin Free Fall, the same model that operated at Kentucky Kingdom. I’m of the understanding that the height limit suggestion/restriction has as much to do with leg length as it does with torso or shoulder height, especially on a drop tower of that style. Longer legs may find their way into the wrong place resulting in injury.

SteveWoA said:
...Surprisingly enough, the only ride I have ever been denied on for my height was Green Lantern at SFMM though out of some 300 coasters.

That makes you lucky.

There are things in this world that one does not need to do, and Green Lantern was one of them.

--Dave Althoff, Jr. (who had the misfortune of riding that piece of fuvg)

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

1% is a lot of pissed off people when you’re talking a park that gets 3 million guests a year.

"That being said… What I hate is the inconsistencies, more than anything."

This is the biggest issue. Half the time I can get on the ride, half the time I am denied. It just depends on the teenagers who have just been hired to run the ride. It's a crap shoot.

Last edited by DoubleMeatTaco,
Vater's avatar

DoubleMeatTaco said:

these kids are like 5" foot

Last edited by Vater,
hambone's avatar

If we're only talking about height, there are two considerations I can think of, upper body length or leg length. (Or obviously both.)

For leg length, it's tricky - if you have a car that has any kind of barrier in front of the legs (like most coaster cars), there's only so much a manufacturer can do without making the car unreasonably long. Or without forcing the passenger into a contorted position that might compromise safety in some way. That shouldn't be an issue on your typical drop ride, however.

As for upper body length, it seems to me that an OTSR could be mounted on a kind of adjustable piston, the way that stand-up coasters have saddles that raise and lower. That would add expense and maintenance and potential breakdowns, of course - and I suppose increase the possibility that the restraint might not work as well for smaller riders if it's not adjusted correctly. So potentially that kind of change could make the ride less safe overall, in real-world situations.

Are there rides that have this kind of mechanism? I can't think of any off the top of my head (other than, again, stand-up rides).

Having very rarely been able to ride roller coasters with my (6'7") partner, I sympathize.

hambone said:
…As for upper body length, it seems to me that an OTSR could be mounted on a kind of adjustable piston, the way that stand-up coasters have saddles that raise and lower.(…)

Are there rides that have this kind of mechanism? I can't think of any off the top of my head (other than, again, stand-up rides).(…)


I don’t know how it is in its current incarnation but X was the ride that got the “Arrowbatic” restraints which adjust up and down as well as in and out. I don’t know if the restraints survived the ride’s redesign.

—Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Dave beat me to it. X, in all it’s yellow and purple glory, had one of the coolest restraints ever. The mechanism adjusted up and down like you describe. The restraint was like a butterfly that closed in front. And then it was pushed snug against you. Flippin’ awesome. Now I’m curious if they still use that restraint. And I had never heard the term “Arrowbatic” but that’s pretty cool too.

But then again, what do I know?

Yes, as far as I remember, X2 still has the same restraint when I rode it a few years back. Adjusted up and down and wrapped around both arms like the old school Togo's.

Vater's avatar

Vater said:

DoubleMeatTaco said:

these kids are like 5" foot

Aw, you edited the original post. You're no fun.

Yes, I did and I am fun :) I should never post from my phone. My eyesight is not the best and it's easy to make a typo as in the 5-inch foot kid. Good catch!

"HARLEY QUINN™ Spinsanity" is the best ride at Six Flags America IMO. They have this awesome automated restraint system that automatically comes down once all riders are set. If I had a dollar for every time a rider tried to pull down the restraints on their own, I would be rich. I understand that "Voodoo Drop" is 25-years old, so I will just rack this up to a 25-year old ride that I can't ride, depending on the teenager operating the ride.

"Arrowbatic" was the suspended wild-mouse prototype that Alan Schilke (yes, THAT Alan Schilke, when he was at Arrow) was showing off at an IAAPA show many years ago. I don't believe any got built, but the show-car they had on display had some interesting features that did ultimately make it into production, including two different versions of that "butterfly" restraint and two slightly different seating positions. Hey, it was a prototype. Pity the ride never got built; it was pretty well developed at the time.

I've found very little about it online, and the photos I have found so far are terrible, reflecting the condition of the Internet at the time they were uploaded. I don't remember what year it was, so I don't know whether I have any photos of my own, or if the video I have is on VHS, 8mm or DV25...I shall do some digging.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

GooDFeLLoW's avatar

So i think the technical explanation is that someone of your exact same height could have a torso longer by several inches (longer torso and shorter legs). In this case, the over-the-shoulder restraints wouldn't come down far enough before being stopped by the shoulders. They don't have an easy way to have people measure torso only, so they have to just have a blanket height limit. My dad used to be stopped from riding the arrow looper Demon at CGA. One time when he was allowed on it, the should restraints were super uncomfortable and pressing down on his shoulders, so he must have been a long-torso person.

Last year I was on the Kings Dominion 270-foot drop tower. I have to say, it does not compare to the feeling you get from the 180-foot Voodoo Drop at Six Flag America. My thought is that the huge 40-person circle design drop ride, causes too much drag and you don't get that "dropping" feeling in your stomach.

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