One-size amusement ride seats may be a problem for guests of various sizes

Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2013 9:38 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The death of a roller coaster rider in Texas has focused attention on the vexing problem theme park operators face trying to accommodate passengers of various shapes in one-size-fits-all seats. News reports about a woman who fell to her death from a Texas roller coaster suggest her girth may have played a role. The accident follows one in 2011 in which an Army veteran who had lost both legs fighting in Iraq plummeted to his death from a New York roller coaster.

Read more from The LA Times.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 11:53 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

LostKause said:

Joe Schmo has no chance against the food industry and their spending boatloads of money on figuring out how to encourage people to eat more food.

Tell that to the large majority of people that aren't obese.


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Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:07 AM

I find ignorant comments by some to be disturbing. I do believe that roller coaster manufacturers need to be far more inclusive in their design. Overweight people is just one small part of the community who are literally left out of being able to ride roller coasters including dwarf, amputees, and others with different physical characteristics.

I would recommend the manufacturers to enlist these communities in help for coming up with ideas on how to better and safely accommodate people of different sizes so all can enjoy the rides. There's really no reason to leave anyone behind, or at least, making serious effort to be far more inclusive than the industry has been.

Marvin

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:29 AM
sws's avatar

LostKause said:

Joe Schmo has no chance against the food industry and their spending boatloads of money on figuring out how to encourage people to eat more food.

Yeah, I agree. The food industry is a giant conspiracy that forces innocent people to eat against their will.

Last edited by sws, Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:30 AM
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Thursday, July 25, 2013 2:43 AM
LostKause's avatar

I love how you guys take something people say and exaggerate it to make it sound ridiculous. I'm trying to have a serious discussion here. There are thousands of news reports that back up what I am talking about. Here are two that I easily found by doing a search.

I never used the word "force" when talking about what the food industry does to customers. That word is too strong. You can use that word to make my view less valid. I used the word "encourage," because that word better describes what is going on.

I agree that the lack of personal responsibility is a big part of the problem, but there are factors that work against personal responsibility that should be addressed. I'm not even saying that the big corporations are "evil" for using science to sell more food. I don't know if I wouldn't do the same if I were involved in selling food. Profit would be more important than anything else, even the health of the idiots that buy my products, right?

Last edited by LostKause, Thursday, July 25, 2013 2:44 AM
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Thursday, July 25, 2013 3:11 AM
sws's avatar

You don't have to dig any deeper than basic economics. Fast food chains like McDonalds flourish because that's what the people want and are willing to pay for. It's fast, it's easy, and it's cheap. (Of course, the same could be said of my ex-wife.)

Once there became a back-lash because the food was not healthy, they created and promoted their healthier choice menu. Now they are potentially drawing in customers they never could before. Thus expanding their market at increased prices.

Give the people what they want. Pure genius. It's totally up to the consumer to change their purchasing habits.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 3:26 AM

While personal choice is still at the core of most (but certainly not all) weight problems, there's no denying that the food industry knows exactly what they're doing when it comes to getting people "hooked" on cheap, crappy food. I know this article is from a comedy website, but it's still a good quick read addressing the issue.

As for the calorie counting apps, I tried one of those once and quickly got annoyed by it. The last thing I want to do at lunch or dinner time is pull out my phone and play around with some app trying to search for whatever I might be eating that day and then trying to appropriately quantify it.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 7:39 AM
Break Trims's avatar

I trimmed off a stubborn 13 pounds using My Fitness Pal. Considering that the basic secret is to burn more calories than you ingest on a regular basis, it's not really difficult to lose weight when you have such vast caloric information with you at all times. As to the gravitational pull of McDonald's and high-fructose corn syrup, just avoid them. Vegetables are cheap, and cooking at home saves money anyway. Even if I'm on the road for work, I can find a Subway for a meal of less than 550 calories. I routinely down 300+ calorie double IPAs and the like, but it's because I've accounted for them, usually with a few miles of running or many more on a bike.

It's really all about taking an honest approach to what you actually eat on a daily basis. I'd say a major problem is that people simply don't want to know their own dark habits, and are thus powerless. Ignorance may be bliss, but being fat sure isn't.


Parallel lines on a slow decline.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 8:09 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

Alright Marvin, here goes:

I would recommend the manufacturers to enlist these communities in help for coming up with ideas on how to better and safely accommodate people of different sizes so all can enjoy the rides.

How exactly could these "communities" assist the engineers and manufacturers with their designs? This isn't an art contest. There are ways to properly restrain people, and the engineers are the experts. Maybe we need smarter engineers, but there's no need to enlist the help of the general public.

There's really no reason to leave anyone behind, or at least, making serious effort to be far more inclusive than the industry has been.

Sure there is. It's a balancing act between being as inclusive as possible and being as safe and efficient as possible. Yes, you could make seats large enough to accommodate obese people, but then you run the risk of disallowing smaller people, like young children. Would you really rather put a restriction on families to accommodate the obese community?

And if you say "no, I want everyone included," then you're talking about adjustable seats and adjustable restraints, but then you're compromising safety (because there's more variability in the way the restraint is applied and more potential for mechanical failure due to the added complexity) and efficiency (longer time to apply the restraint and inspect it to make sure it is properly applied). Again, that's not an even trade-off.

Also, you're speaking as if hordes of people are being turned away at the queue day after day. I don't see this happening. Riding a roller coaster takes a toll on your body, and obese people typically have other health problems that make life generally uncomfortable. If we account for those that are even willing to walk around the park all day, we still have to ask ourselves how many of them want to subject themselves to a roller coaster, even if they are able to ride.

And for those that do attempt to ride and are denied access at the platform, how many of them come away pissed at the park/manufacturer for designing something that doesn't accommodate them? Yes there is the occasional one-off lawsuit, but that's anecdotal. I'm betting that most obese people who can't fit are upset with themselves for allowing it to come to that point.

There's a reason it's called the "walk of shame," not the "walk of grievance."

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:33 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Marvin Miller said:

There's really no reason to leave anyone behind

Profit. Which may sound cold, but it's not like Six Flags is in the business of rainbows and flowers.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:08 PM
sws's avatar

Marvin Miller said:

I would recommend the manufacturers to enlist these communities in help for coming up with ideas on how to better and safely accommodate people of different sizes so all can enjoy the rides. There's really no reason to leave anyone behind, or at least, making serious effort to be far more inclusive than the industry has been.

I anticipate that "No coaster enthusiast left behind," will be just as successful as "No child left behind."

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 10:05 PM

I put this on another thread but it seems to fit well here as well so I will re post my point. The average us woman height in the US is 5 foot 4, while the average weight for a woman is almost 160. That means the average adult woman is in the overweight category almost into obese according to a BMI calculator. I used to be be that exact height/weight combo, but I now weight 125 and still am 5 foot 4 which is a BMI of 21.5, right in the middle of the healthy range. So that means that my current size represents the average height of a woman and the appropriate weight for that height, but I am on the verge of being too small to ride certain coasters. The idea of overweight riders being more "at risk" seems to get more talk but think of perilous plunge and hydro, shoot the chute rides that have had 2 smaller riders fall out. These restraints are too large for myself a person of appropriate size.. Rather than be concerned we are excluding some obese visitors shouldn't it be a more concerning issue we are excluding people of appropriate size?
Next point, including larger riders at the expense of smaller riders seems like a poor buisness strategy. Parks are focused towards families with kids (hence focused on groups that include smaller riders), people of healthy weight are likely to health issues (so they would be less likely to be excluded based on other ride requirements), healthy people are more likely to live longer (more potential visits), healthy people are more active (again, more potential visits), its cheaper to produce attractions that are smaller because less material is involved, and lighter trains put less stress on the track. Yeah you might sell more food and include a few more guests in the short run but expanding seats doesn't seem like a winning long term strategy.

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Friday, July 26, 2013 3:33 AM
bjames's avatar

Jeff said:

You don't have to be a statistician to see that the percentage of people who can't fit on rides is not 35%.

Because ride manufacturers have to account for how fat America is, they need to build in a huge amount of extra space for obese people (34%). That's just sad. The extra one percent is the people who need to buy two seats on airplanes. (However, I'm not saying the woman died because she was too fat, personally I blame the ride-op for being incompetent)

Last edited by bjames, Friday, July 26, 2013 3:36 AM
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Friday, July 26, 2013 6:38 AM

LostKause said:

I love how you guys take something people say and exaggerate it to make it sound ridiculous.

...

I used the word "encourage," because that word better describes what is going on.

You also said people have no choice but to give in to the temptation. That sounds an awful lot like an enabling viewpoint to me.

If people were less politically correct, and showed a bit more tough love toward this sort of behavior, I would think it would give fewer people the justification they need to continue that behavior.

Consider the mortgage crisis. I've spoken with several people who were in bad situations that essentially parroted the "the banks are evil and tricked us" justification. Even after losing one's home, more people than I'm comfortable with didn't get that regardless of those evil tricksters at the bank, it was still their signature at the bottom of the contract. At least with the mortgage crisis, there was the perhaps understandable excuse that mortgages can be overwhelmingly complicated agreements (though honestly, if you're not fully confident you understand a 6-figure contract, why the hell are you signing it?).

Not eating far more calories than one burns? Not even in the same ballpark as far as difficulty to understand.


Brandon | Facebook

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Friday, July 26, 2013 7:27 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

bjames said:

... personally I blame the ride-op for being incompetent

Why?

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Friday, July 26, 2013 8:19 AM
Jason Hammond's avatar

bjames, presumably the computer gave the employee a "Go" signal for the lap bar, or the computer wouldn't have let the ride dispatch. You can't blame the employee for doing the job the way they were instructed to.

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Friday, July 26, 2013 8:20 AM

854 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
http://www.rollercoasterfreak.com My YouTube

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Friday, July 26, 2013 8:45 AM
LostKause's avatar

djDaemon said:
You also said people have no choice but to give in to the temptation. That sounds an awful lot like an enabling viewpoint to me.

I reread what I typed in this topic, and I can't find where I said that. Is there any was you could do me a small favor and quote me on that please.

If people were less politically correct, and showed a bit more tough love toward this sort of behavior, I would think it would give fewer people the justification they need to continue that behavior.

You might be right about "tough love." Maybe we need to change the way we tiptoe around the subject; maybe not though. Are you that the chemicals that are put into our food to make us eat more is just used as an excuse fat people use to justify eating more? If so, I disagree.

Mortgage crises...Not eating far more calories than one burns? Not even in the same ballpark as far as difficulty to understand.

Agreed, but just because people understand how food, calories, and weight works doesn't mean that it is easy to resist temptation. Try telling a smoker that how easy it should be for them to quit smoking because they know it's bad for their health.


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Friday, July 26, 2013 9:24 AM

LostKause said:

I reread what I typed in this topic, and I can't find where I said that. Is there any was you could do me a small favor and quote me on that please.

LostKause said:

About the comment alluding to being fat is a choice, it is not entirely true.

This is where I disagree - it absolutely is a choice, in the context you're using here. That is, outside of some rare genetic exceptions, being fat is a choice.

Are you that the chemicals that are put into our food to make us eat more is just used as an excuse fat people use to justify eating more? If so, I disagree.

It doesn't matter what they put in there. I see commercials that imply that purchasing a certain vehicle will make people like me more, or that if I wear certain clothes, my peers will respect me more. They're doing the same thing - playing on my emotional (which is also chemical, by the way) response to get me to make a particular decision. I can choose to either give in and buy the car and clothes to the detriment of my bank account, or I can choose not to.

Someone who feels compelled to eat 5 Big Macs a week can choose to either give in to that impulse to the detriment of their health, or they can choose not to.

Try telling a smoker that how easy it should be for them to quit smoking because they know it's bad for their health.

As someone who smoked for almost 15 years before quitting, I know that quitting isn't easy. And I'm not implying that avoiding tempting foods is easy either. I'm simply saying that in each case, the person making the choice should be held accountable for that choice, rather than Marlboro or McDonald's.

Last edited by djDaemon, Friday, July 26, 2013 9:26 AM

Brandon | Facebook

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Friday, July 26, 2013 12:08 PM
rollergator's avatar

913girl said:
The idea of overweight riders being more "at risk" seems to get more talk but think of perilous plunge and hydro, shoot the chute rides that have had 2 smaller riders fall out.

It was a small rider on Hydro, but the PP incident involved a large woman...292 lbs. per the L.A. Times report.

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Friday, July 26, 2013 1:07 PM
LostKause's avatar

"Entirely" is the key word in the quote. That means that I agree with you to a degree, but not fully. I think we both are more in agreement than you suggest.

About the cigarettes, it is a great example to help me make my point. The companies that make cigarettes put chemicals in their products that make them more addictive than heroin. I am assuming that there is a chance that scientist working for the food industry have found a way to hook customers as well. Have you ever tried to eat just a few potato chips? Sometimes, it seems impossible. That's why I pretty much stay away from chips.


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Friday, July 26, 2013 1:28 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

So by creating products we like, these business are bad?

Somehow I don't think that argument would hold water in any other scenario.

"Roller Coaster designers make their rides too fun. I'm bankrupt because I'm addicted to riding!"

I just have no tolerance for victim mentality.


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