Woman says she was fat-shamed at Universal theme park — and she's filing a discrimination complaint

A woman says safety bars prevented her from enjoying many of the Universal Orlando rides. (Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
A woman says safety bars prevented her from enjoying many of the Universal Orlando rides. (Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

A woman who claims staff at Universal’s Islands of Adventure “humiliated” her by refusing to accommodate her size has filed a discrimination complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, WFTV reports.

Angel Morales singled out the Orlando amusement park’s Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride, which she was unable to enjoy because employees allegedly declined her request to make room by having one fewer persons in her row. She said a worker on the ride told her they needed to “push for capacity.”

“It’s somewhat humiliating to have to ask for an accommodation because of one’s weight — that you have to put yourself out there and kind of beg to be able to ride and embarrass yourself because of weight,” Morales said.

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On a previous visit, the mom, who has an annual pass to the theme park, was able to experience Skull Island by riding with her young daughters. Though the ride features a bench without a safety bar, Morales was concerned that squeezing in next to strangers would make them feel “uncomfortable.”

Though Universal’s Islands of Adventure doesn’t have any maximum weight restrictions, some rides have been flagged as causing issues for larger visitors.

“[I] couldn’t fit on any of the Harry Potter rides because of my weight,” Morales notes. “[I] did a lot of bag-holding in Diagon Alley and that kind of thing.”

Morales said the park offered her a $100 gift card as well as dinner and movie tickets, but her experience has left her reluctant to visit again.

“Their interest is getting bodies and getting money and not accommodating paying customers,” she said. “That’s how I felt.”

Universal, meanwhile, told WFTV that it aims to be respectful of all guests.

“While we don’t comment on specific guest situations, we always strive to treat our guests with respect and we work to accommodate special requests when we can,” a company spokesman said.

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Morales’s story has met with mixed reactions, with some supporters expressing empathy while many critics say she should lose weight.

“I felt ashamed of myself when I could no longer fit on the Harry Potter ride,” one woman wrote on Facebook. “I went to the end of the line and waited for my kids and cried in the darkness. I’ve lost 140 lb. I can now fit in it and I’m proud. Lose some weight, honey! For your health!”

“I’m bigger and can not ride many rides at different parks,” read another comment. “It’s just the way it is. They have to build the rides to be safe… if you don’t like it, you have to lose weight.”

“I don’t fit on either of Harry Potter rides, [but] I didn’t feel fat-shamed,” added another commenter. “It was actually nice to see the tester seats in front of the ride. It is what it is, but I am now on the Potter diet; every time I eat something bad my daughter says Harry Potter haha.”

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