Woman files discrimination complaint against Universal Orlando for alleged weight discrimination

Posted Monday, March 19, 2018 11:19 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A woman said she felt fat-shamed when she was unable to ride Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal's Islands of Adventure. She filed a discrimination complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. She said overweight people should be a protected class.

Read more from WFTV/Orlando.

Monday, March 19, 2018 11:47 AM

It's somewhat humiliating to have to ask for an accommodation because of one's weight.

Though apparently it's not humiliating to go on TV and tell the world about your somewhat humiliating experience.

I'm not sure I even get this. She talked about her first visit and how she wasn't able to ride a lot of the attractions, yet this ride she was allowed on but not precisely how she wanted to ride (with one less person on the bench)...and that's what you're going to take issue with?

Also...

Universal doesn't have weight restrictions...

While technically true, it took me less than 60 seconds to find this page on Universal's web site:

Under the tab labeled Larger Framed Guests

All passenger restraint systems—including lap bars, shoulder harnesses and seat belts—must be positioned and fastened properly to assure your safety. Guests who don’t fit properly in a safety restraint won’t be allowed to ride. Guests whose waistline is at least 40” or greater may not be accommodated on the rides, and are strongly encouraged to try the test seat provided at the entrance of the attraction to ensure your ability to ride.

Last edited by Vater, Monday, March 19, 2018 11:59 AM
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Monday, March 19, 2018 11:56 AM

This is why I could never be an owner of anything. They offered her a free dinner when I would be handing her a gym membership instead.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 12:18 PM

This is ridiculous. Overweight people should be a protected class? Nope. We shouldn’t.* Absolutely ridiculous. You fit on the ride but essential wanted a second seat. Maybe Universal should go the same route as the airlines; if you want/need an extra seat, but a second ticket. Problem solved.

*Note I said WE. I’m overweight. While I do have some health issues that contribute, I know my eating habits are a big part of it. And guess what? I don’t stomp and scream that I should be able to ride Wicked Twister without fastening the belt.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 12:33 PM

Does anyone else see the irony in that this was a King Kong ride? Just because its called King Kong doesn't mean it fits King Kong.

I am 6' 6" and have been turned away from many rides. Never have I ever bitched or made any complaints to the park about it. This whole country playing the "poor me" or "I'm the victim" and expecting something in return is just absolutely nuts to me.

Last edited by Dale K, Monday, March 19, 2018 12:34 PM
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Monday, March 19, 2018 1:20 PM

Excessively tall people should be a protected class.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 1:27 PM

I disagree I think it is reasonable to put one less person in a row to allow a guest on the ride .

The Team Member at load told her they needed to ride filled to capacity .

That is a decision based on numbers on a chart .Not do we give a guest a good time .

I am a big guy I have been turned away on a few rides. I sometimes got a head of line pass for another ride.

for the time I spent in line .I am fine with that .It shows they are trying to insure all guests are happy not just a number.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 3:00 PM

Regardless of what they could have done to satisfy the guest, they get to decide what they're willing to do. They weren't willing to do this, so tough luck.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 4:53 PM

If it was just a matter of putting one less person in the row I don't see why they couldn't have done it. Should they be obligated to? No. Should this woman get compensation of some sort? No. Would it have been good customer service to put one less person in the row so she could ride? Yes.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 5:12 PM

But then you have to ask are you "ruining" the person left off that row because his/her group is loaded in the same boat, maybe in other rows, so now he/she has to ride alone.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 5:28 PM

Yeah, employees either dropped the ball or need to be empowered to make these kinds of judgement calls.

With that said, crying weight discrimination is stacking stupid on top of stupid.

...and stupid is definitely not a protected class.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 5:56 PM

I know that feeling of getting thrown off MF at CP several years back. It is an embarrassing experience. I feel bad when I see people getting thrown off rides. Filing a lawsuit is just dumb, and don't want to add anything more than Gonch already has.

Most parks have a lot of signage specifying that over weight people will not be allowed to ride if they don't fit. I notice a lot parks try as hard as they can to close restraints for larger people. When I got ejected at CP was when you had to fasten your own belt and get the lap bar in a cleared position. A few visits later they had relaxed that rule and try to assist.

I am a foodie. My wife and I love food, and really enjoy cooking and dining out. I understand why people eat unhealthy, and use food as an escape. I chose to do weight watchers, and lost 65 lbs. Now I don't use weight watchers. I just use Samsung health app to track my food, and jog 2-5 miles a day. It enables me to have some cheat days to enjoy the food that I shouldn't eat.

Just because of my body type I still need a push on the restraint. El Toro immediately comes to mind because it's rare that I can get the restraint in a clear position.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 8:36 PM

Wait, so...she didn’t get turned away from the ride, she asked that no one sit beside her “for Their comfort” and the employees told her they can’t keep other guests from sitting beside her. Um. No. I don’t even know if this is an employee training issue. I don’t buy her whole story after I read that part. And she’s not that big.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 8:57 PM

Tek thats exactly how I feel. This doesn't seem to make sense at all, yet she was so embarrassed that she went to the news with it?

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Monday, March 19, 2018 9:26 PM

The ride has bench seating and no restraints...like a tram. I'm under the impression that ride ops insist X number of riders slide into each row. She asked if they could do one less because she is so big (for everyone's comfort, presumably - I know I'd prefer not to be smooshed into the row) and they denied the request because they have to "push for capacity"

This is a bit different than saying, "Please don't fill the seat beside me."

Honestly, the request doesn't seem unreasonable and I'd go as far as saying I think the ops should be watching for guests of exceptional size and adjusting accordingly.

But crying fat shaming and weight discrimination is the wrong reaction.

People blow everything out of proportion and everyone is a victim anymore.

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Monday, March 19, 2018 9:37 PM

Man, next time I need to read the article. I just started reading responses and replied.

Not to change the subject. Opening weekend for kings dominion and Busch Gardens Williamsburg. BGW changed it to a Saturday opening(usually friday,) so we had to change the visit. Leaving Saturday morning and going straight to kings dominion. Looking forward to the hurler replacement(Looking more forward to CP @mean streak replacement) we'll go BGW 2 days Sunday and Monday. Drive home on Tuesday.

Last edited by Coasterfantom2, Monday, March 19, 2018 9:38 PM
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Monday, March 19, 2018 9:48 PM

If you have to say, "Not to change the subject," you probably shouldn't change the subject.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018 1:10 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

..empowered...

It's interesting that you use this specific word. I worked at IOA a looong time ago, 2000 - 2001, and this is the exact word they used in their culture for going above and beyond with helping guests have an enjoyable experience at the park. Employees were "empowered" to get creative and solve any problems a guest may encounter at the park.

Short example; I was told to move all the rental stroller that were blocking the entrance to JP River Adventure into the Stroller Parking area. It rained afterwards. An irate family came to me screaming and cursing because their dry clothes that were in the stroller got wet. I called my boss and asked if he could send someone to cover my position for a few minutes so I could take care of them. I took the family to the gift shop, and on the parks dime, bought them all dry t-shirts and ponchos. They went from irate to thinking it was the "best day ever!"

I went above and beyond to make it right, all because park management "empowered" me to do so. A few days later, I received a $5 coupon for the employee cafeteria, The IOasis, for my quick action.

That was sixteen years ago. I wonder if they still have that program? It would have been tailored made for this Kong situation.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018 1:59 AM

Almost like I know what I'm talking about when it comes to the service/hospitality industry. ;)

Sadly, so much has been dumbed down and reduced to procedure or a list of tasks or flowchart and no one seems to train and trust their employees any more.

This story is a perfect example...

1. Put five people in each row as quickly as possible
2. That is all

...of the stark contrast of your story and how things should be able to be handled. Trust your employees to make decisions to ensure the guest experience doesn't suffer.

It's a pet peeve of mine. No one really seems to be expected to know how to do anything or truly understand their jobs or the big picture. You're given specific tasks, not a position.

You can teach anyone to play a specific song on guitar. It doesn't mean they understand scales, chords, theory or anything about music or the technique of playing the instrument. Put them on stage and they can play that one song as well as anyone. Just don't ask them to adjust, improvise or really do anything beyond that song exactly as practiced and learned.

That feels a lot like the state of the workplace (especially at this level) in 2018.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 7:06 AM
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018 7:12 AM

If she were a woman of unusual size I’d be more inclined to agree. But looking at her, I can’t imagine she’s wider across than I am. She’s plump, but not two seats worthy. Could the employees have sat one less? Sure. But they didn’t refuse to let her ride. I still think it sounds fishy.

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