As a plus-sized person who is also an adrenaline junkie, one of my biggest fears in visiting any theme park is my ability to fit on the rides and attractions. It can be somewhat nerve wracking to wait in line for a ride that you are super excited about, only to find out once in the seat that the lap bar won’t close or that the seat belt won’t connect. Knowing that this is a concern for many plus-sized folks, my friend Julie and I set out to find out which rides are the most plus-sized friendly at Dollywood. We put together a video to show you our experience, and I included more details in the text below.
Please keep in mind that each body is shaped differently, and what works for some won’t work for others simply due to body shape. Dollywood’s Accessibility Guide states that “certain attractions may not accommodate individuals approaching 270 lbs. and/or 6-ft.-4-in height.” We made every effort to account for this and to be as thorough as possible when testing out each of these attractions.
Blazing Fury uses a lap bar system and has no divider in between the seats to separate the two passengers in each train. The lap bar comes down very easily and caused us zero problems. We both agreed that Blazing Fury is an extremely comfortable attraction for a plus-sized person.
Tennessee Tornado has an over-the-head restraint system. Julie and I both were able to have the restraint easily work for us, even with my larger chest. While there is no test seat for this attraction, we both agreed that this one accommodates people of most shapes.
Lightning Rod utilizes a lap bar and seat belt system. Like most of the coasters in Dollywood, it has a test seat at the entrance. Neither Julie nor myself were able to make the seat belt connect while on the test seat, so this ride did not work for us.
Wild Eagle has a row on each train that is specifically designed for larger guests. Row 4 has a red colored number in its gate line and also has a red seat belt that is one inch longer than the seat belts on other rows of the train. The hosts at Wild Eagle work hard to make sure you fit into this ride and told us that they highly recommend any guest of a larger size to ride in row 4 in order to ensure their ability to ride.
FireChaser Express has a lap bar system that easily worked for us. There is a divider in the seat that goes between the two passengers, so keep this in mind if being too wide is a concern of yours. The test seat out front has a red light and a green light for you to make sure that you fit before hopping in line.
Thunderhead uses a lap bar and seat belt system. While we were there, Julie and I decided to ride separately to make the lap bar and the seat belt fit us better. When we tried to ride together, the seat belt would not connect. Riding as a single rider worked perfectly and we were able to enjoy Thunderhead together from our individual seats. We found out later there is a seat belt extender that could potentially accommodate us so we could ride together. We’ll have to ask the ride attendant for this next time so we can try it!
Mystery Mine is a ride where your ability to fit comfortably on the ride truly depends on how you carry your weight. We hopped on Mystery Mine and Julie fit just fine, I however, was unable to get the restraint system to fully lock due to having a larger chest. The host tried extra hard to make it work, but it just was not in the cards for me. However, the host did give us a ride re-entry pass that we can use in the TimeSaver line at any ride that accepts TimeSaver passes. This was a fantastic consolation to a situation that could have been somewhat embarrassing. Hosts at Dollywood always go the extra mile to accommodate guests.
Dragonflier has an overhead lap bar and a seat belt system. There is a test seat out front for you to see if this ride will accommodate you. Like all other coasters, the hosts will work hard to make sure that they do everything they can to make the ride work for you. You can see in my video how awesome the host was about helping me ride.
Other Recommended Attractions:
Barnstormer has both a lap bar and seat belt system. The test seat in front of the ride is very useful in determining if this ride will accommodate you. Both Julie and I were able to fit on the ride, although it was somewhat of a tougher fit for me.
Smoky Mountain River Rampage has a very large Velcro seat belt restraint that will accommodate almost any sized rider. As a result of researching to write this blog, this is another attraction I discovered that has a seat belt extender you can ask a ride attendant for.
Daredevil Falls uses no restraint system and easily fits any size rider.
Dollywood Express Train Ride is a crowd favorite where size does not matter.
I hope that you have found this guide helpful. As mentioned earlier, there are test seats available and the hosts are incredibly kind and will do everything possible to allow you to safely ride the attraction. No one wants to be the person that does not fit on a ride while visiting the park, but if you find yourself in that position, please know that you will be met with nothing but kindness and even a ride re-entry pass for another attraction.