Universal Studios Hollywood is facing criticism over the body size limitations for riders of its new “Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge” attraction.
The ride, which is a part of the highly anticipated Super Nintendo World area, utilizes augmented reality and animatronics to allow guests to compete as part of Team Mario in a battle against Bowser and his minions. It requires passengers to wear VR headsets and sit in vehicles modeled after Mario’s standard kart that can only accommodate people with a waist size of 40 inches or smaller. Since the average waist size in the U.S. is 40.5 inches for men and 38.7 inches for women, a significant portion of the population would not be able to enjoy the new Mario Kart ride.
While Super Nintendo World won’t be open to the general public until Feb. 17, some Universal Studios pass holders were able to try out the new rides during a special preview event.
Some social media users accused the park of being “fatphobic” and called it out for its alleged lack of body inclusivity.
“Still mad about that 40-inch waistline requirement for the Mario Kart ride,” a Twitter user wrote. “It’s just blatantly fatphobic, there’s nothing about it that can’t accommodate a bigger human. Let alone an average-sized one, as 40 inches is hardly monumental. I’m a few pounds from there myself!”
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
“Can we discuss how at my biggest I would not have been able to fit on Mario Kart?” another tweeted. “A 40” waistline is about a size 20. Are you freaking kidding me, @UniStudios? It’s a DARK RIDE.”
“Nothing but wonderful things to say about Super Nintendo World except this: the body size limitations on the Mario Kart ride are absolutely ridiculous,” wrote YouTuber Rocco Botte of the comedy group Mega64. “I’ve never had any issue fitting into any ride in my entire life, and I can BARELY fit into this one. Completely absurd.”
Experts pointed out the restrictions on some rides are set in place to abide by stricter safety standards requested by insurers who may be concerned about visitor lawsuits.
According to theme park designer Jim Shull, rides that require full restraints limit the size of the adult it can fit.
“If you size every seat for the largest possible person, you’re guaranteeing that a smaller child cannot ride,” Shull, who worked as a Disney designer for over 30 years, told The Wall Street Journal.
In response to the backlash, a Universal Parks and Resorts spokesperson told KTLA that the waist limit is not exclusive to Super Nintendo World, noting that it is working to balance guest needs with a strong focus on safety.
“We have a company-wide task force actively working with this community to make changes that can help them safely increase access to our experiences,” the representative was quoted as saying.