Harry Potter Roller Coaster in Florida Modified for Fat Riders

Universal Orlando has changed its popular ride for obese Americans.

ByABC News
September 13, 2010, 6:15 PM

Sept. 14, 2010— -- Obese roller coaster enthusiasts rejoice: Universal Orlando has expanded some of the seats on its wildly popular "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" attraction to accommodate larger riders.

The change, apparently made just before this weekend, means that the scores of people who had previously been turned away from the ride because they were too large for safety devices can now enjoy it.

"Ever since it opened, there has been some discussion about how people couldn't ride," said Matt Roseboom, editor-in-chief of Orlando Attractions Magazine, which published a first-hand account of the change Saturday.

Roseboom said that since the ride opened in May, many guests complained they couldn't ride because their safety restraints wouldn't fully close. It was the only ride at Universal they apparently couldn't fit.

(The Harry Potter ride technically isn't a roller coaster but a simulator that travels on a track.)

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Universal had installed special test seats at the entrance to the ride so larger patrons didn't need to wait on an hours-long line only to discover that they didn't fit. A green light and you were good to go. A red one meant no luck until you shed a few pounds. Roseboom said those test seats now also have a yellow light directing passengers to a special few seats with modified restraining devices.

Instead of hundreds of guests being turned away each day, Roseboom said, attendants told him only one was rejected in two days.

Universal acknowledges the change but isn't saying much.

"We routinely make minor adjustments to new attractions after having the opportunity to watch them operate, but we don't generally discuss the details of those adjustments," Tom Schroder, a spokesman for Universal Orlando said in an e-mail to ABC News.

The park tries to accommodate as many guests as possible on its rides, and after watching "Harry Potter" operate for several months, Schroder said, "we made some adjustments to the ride's overhead restraint system that would allow more people to ride."

"We're thrilled to be able to give more people the opportunity to experience this attraction," he said.