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When we first moved to Virginia I couldn’t wait for the right time to take Stink on her first trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  I have fond memories of that theme park and wanted her to experience all the fun shows and rides that I used to enjoy.  So despite being over 2 hours from Busch Gardens I signed us all up for annual passes this spring and schlepped the family down to Williamsburg every few weeks for some good ol’ fashioned family fun.

fat friendly busch gardens williamsburg
My sister and I are total goofballs

But the problem with loving theme parks so much is that the rides can be hit or miss for a plus size person.  This handy little guide will cover all the most popular Busch Gardens rides with important tips for planning a fat friendly vacation.  Each ride is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most fat friendly and 1 being a ride you should probably skip.

Note: I am 5’6″, size 18/20, about 230 lbs, and carry most of my weight in my tummy.  Brandon is 6’4″, size 42 and about 260 lbs.  Not all fat people are built the same so your experience on each ride may be different according to your weight and body type.

First things first, almost all the rides have a rather narrow turnstile entrance.  Many times I have to turn sideways to get through and this is the most uncomfortable part on many of the rides.  I think Busch Gardens would be hailed as a much more fat friendly theme park if they eliminated these unnecessary barriers.

The Flying Machine

Fat Friendly Rating: 10

The Flying Machine is a common theme park ride and one that I usually refer to as “The Mixer”.  It’s a moderate thrill ride that’s good for people of all ages.  The Flying Machine has a simple metal bar that swings from the side of the cart, locking in a set position place over your lap.  There is plenty of room available, making this a comfortable ride for folks of all sizes.

Le Catapult

Fat Friendly Rating: 2

Le Catapult scrambler ride is located in a quiet corner in New France.  Like The Flying Machine there is a door that swings from the side to lock into place.  However there’s an additional padded bar that needs to come down to sit over your lap.  It’s an incredibly tight squeeze.  If you’re riding alone or with another adult you have the option to keep the bar up but it would be at an awkward height around chest level.  When riding with children, however, it’s necessary to put the bar down in order to keep the smaller riders safe.  Unless you’re on the smaller end of plus size I would steer clear of this ride.

Turkish Delights

Fat Friendly Rating: 8

busch gardens review

Tea cups are one of our favorite amusement park rides!  The Turkish Delight tea cups at Busch Gardens are large and roomy with enough space for multiple riders.  However, with the spinning wheel located in the center of the cup it may be a little tight for guests with large stomachs, though not so tight that it’s impossible to ride.

Roman Rapids

Fat Friendly Rating: 8

The Roman Rapids is one of three water rides in Busch Gardens.  It’s the only water ride we’ve been on since Stink isn’t a fan of getting wet.  6 bucket seats face each other in a giant tube as you bump along a thrilling rapids.  You will get SOAKED on this ride!  Each pair of seats shares one extra large seatbelt so plus size guests can sit by themselves if needed.  Because the seats are bucket and not bench-style, however, your hips and butt may spill over but it’s not too uncomfortable.

Mach Tower

Fat Friendly Rating: 8

plus size busch gardens williamsburg

Ok, there’s no way in hell I was going to ACTUALLY get on this ride but I did try out the sample seat at the entrance.  The Mach Tower has your typical shoulder restraint system but if you’re large chested there’s no need to worry.  A seatbelt buckles between your legs and connects to the restraint, adding an extra layer of security if you’re unable to cinch the restraint down tightly.  My only complaint is that due to the free-fall nature of this ride the seats have to sit a little higher off the ground.  Shorter guests like myself will struggle to get in and out of the seat and being larger makes that even more awkward.

Note: Cody from Attraction Chasers states that there are larger seats in the blue section.  If you’re unsure whether you’ll fit you can ask about these seats.

Battle for Eire

Fat Friendly Rating: 9

plus size busch gardens williamsburg

The Battle for Eire is a new virtual reality ride that opened up in 2018 in the Ireland section of Busch Gardens.  It was widely anticipated by theme park goers but in all honesty I was a little disappointed in the picture quality of the ride.  Still, it’s a great way to introduce younger kids to the VR world.  The seats on the Battle for Eire are just traditional movie theatre seats with armrests.  A standard seatbelt is the only restraint and the ride is enjoyed by wearing an adjustable VR headset.

Der Wirbelwind

Fat Friendly Rating: 3

Ahh, the swings.  Another classic theme park ride.  Stink has been wanting to ride the “big kid” swings for a while now and this year she was finally tall enough to go with an adult.  Unfortunately this ride was not comfortable for either Brandon or myself.  The small seats are tight in the hips with a very low back.  It’s a ride for older kids and adults but I felt like the seats were made for 5 year olds!  A metal bar slides up and down the chain on the swings and buckles between the legs.  If you’re anything other than petite sized then you probably won’t find this swing comfortable at all.

Apollo’s Chariot

Fat Friendly Rating: 4

plus size busch gardens williamsburg

The seats on this daring roller coaster can be hit or miss for fat people, depending on your build.  The large lap bar has to lock tight against your stomach and the extremely narrow seat might not accommodate those with large hips.  I myself barely fit into this seat.  Fortunately there’s a sample seat you can check out at the entrance to the ride just to be sure.

Verbolten

Fat Friendly Rating: 8

fat friendly busch gardens williamsburg
Image courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

As far as roller coasters go Verbolten is pretty dang fat friendly.  Lacking in loops or corkscrews this coaster has a simple padded lap bar with wider seats than some of the other roller coasters.  Don’t be fooled though, this ride is scarier than you think.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The Trade Wind

Fat Friendly Rating: 10

The Trade Wind is another classic amusement park thrill ride.  This spinning bobsled ride has cars that can fit two adults with a lap bar that locks in a set position, leaving plenty of room for your stomach and chest.  It’s one of my favorite thrill rides in Busch Gardens.

Loch Ness Monster

Fat Friendly Rating: 8

fat friendly busch gardens williamsburg

The Loch Ness Monster is probably my favorite roller coaster at Busch Gardens.  It’s thrilling but not too scary and when you get to the peak of the ride you have amazing views of the park.  The shoulder restraints and seats are comfortable enough for plus size people, though extra large guests may feel squeezed.  Because this coaster is 40 years old, however, it’s not as smooth as some of the other newer rides.  I went home with a couple bruises on my elbows after a few rounds on the Loch Ness.

The Battering Ram

Fat Friendly Rating: 7

This giant pirate ship is a great introductory thrill ride for kids.  Large bench-style seats hold up to 6 passengers in a row with 2 lap bars shared between them.  While the ride can accommodate plus size guests it’s the ride partners that you need to be concerned about.  Because the lap bar is shared it can get tricky when riding next to small kids.  You’ll need to pull that bar down very tight in order to keep them secure, especially if you’re sitting on either end of the ship.  However if you’re riding with other adults then it doesn’t have to be too tight.

Da Vinci’s Cradle

Fat Friendly Rating: 7

Ahhh, the carpet ride.  I rode this thing once, screamed my head off and swore I’d never get on it again.  I just can’t get over that dropping feeling.  Like the Battering Ram this ride has bench-style seats with shared lap bars, though from what I can recall there are also seatbelts.  A fellow plus size friend who’s larger than me had to request a seatbelt extender which they had on hand for this ride.

Other Rides and Shows

Though I haven’t ridden them because I’m a giant scaredy cat the Alpengeist and Griffon both have rows with larger seats for guests with a chest size over 52 inches.  I’ve also been told that the test seat at the entrances to those rides are the bigger seat so just because you fit in the test seat doesn’t mean you should ride in a traditional chair.  When in doubt always ask for the bigger seat.

Aside from rides Busch Gardens has a number of excellent shows.  The ones that I’ve been to (Mix It Up, OktoberZest and Celtic Fyre) all have comfortable seating.  Our favorite show by far has been OktoberZest.  Held in the enormous (and air conditioned!) Festhaus it’s got songs that kids can dance and sing along to and has large picnic bench seating for dining.  The Festhaus food isn’t that great but we usually order a giant dill pickle or cup of strawberries to snack on during the show.

While there may be a number of rides that aren’t suitable for plus size guests I have to say that overall Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a very fat friendly theme park.  They have comfortable seating in their restaurants, test chairs for big thrill rides and plenty of shade.  Now all they need to do is get ride of those tiny turnstiles!  All in all there’s plenty for a plus size person to enjoy that makes this park worth visiting if you’re in the mid-Atlantic.

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A Plus Size Guide to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The perfect ride guide for this fat friendly theme park! #plussize #themepark #amusementpark

11 Comments

  1. We really like Busch Gardens, make sure you check it out at Christmas. We don’t really do thrill rides because of health issues, but the shows and the decorations are so much fun!

  2. I went for opening day 2 weeks ago and found out that they removed the larger seats from the Mach Tower. However, the worst thing was, I tried the test seat out and had no issue, when I got on the ride with my son, I could not get the seat belt fastened. A ride attendant came over to help, but even though it fastened, it didn’t, “Clear” so, I had to take the walk of shame. The worst part about this is, I signed up for a membership, now I can only ride maybe 4-5 rides in the park. Oh well, time to diet.

  3. Alpengeist row 5 and 6 has double seatbelts for larger people as well.

  4. Awesome helpful guide! Thank you! I am a little overwhelmed though and wondering how many rides I will actually be able to ride on with my kids. They’re 8&10 and I feel like if I have to ride in a different place than them on most rides, we’re all just going to miss out on a lot and it won’t be worth going. What do you think? Thanks!

    • I think most of the rides that would be a squeeze for you are rides that your kids can do alone, whereas my daughter was still too short and needed an adult to ride along. Now that she’s old enough to do, say, the swings alone I let her go on it while I wait. I think that if you’re open to a variety of rides then you should be able to find enough to fit you. Have fun!!

      • Fat Rollercoaster Enthusiast - Reply

        I just came back from Howl-o-Scream 2019, if you have wide hips, you will not be able to ride Apollo’s Chariot, Griffon, and Invadr. I know because sadly I tried, I had to do the walk of shame for Apollo’s Chariot because I didn’t bother to try the sample seat out in front of the ride like I should have. The other two I tried the sample seat and found out before I went in line. This is the first year I got so big I was unable to ride a rollercoaster and was a tough pill to swallow but I will be having Gastric Sleeve surgery soon and looking forward to a newer healthier body.

  5. We had a great time. You’re right, the Verbolten is scarier than you think haha!!! I couldn’t ride the Mach Tower, though, which was a disappointment. I forgot that there might have been bigger seats to ask about, though.

  6. I am 6 foot tall and 350 with a 48 waist, will the park suck for me?

    • Hmmmm, it depends on how heavy you want to focus on rides while you’re there. There should be at least 3 rides you could easily enjoy, the Trade Wind and Da Vinci’s Cradle come to mind. Though on the latter you’ll have to ask for a seatbelt extender. But Busch Gardens also has A LOT of amazing shows to see. The Oktoberzest show is set in a beerhall with bench-style seating. The tables are packed a little tight but the seats are very fat-friendly and the show is amazing. So you could definitely fill up a day at Busch Gardens, it just might not involve as many rides. Side note: the last time we went to BG we only did about 5 rides anyway because the lines were so long :/

  7. I just went today and the rides were not plus size friendly at all! I was really disappointed! I barely fit on Alpengeist and Finnegans Flyer. After getting off Apollo’s Chariot I refused to ride any more rides the rest of the day. I’m 5’10 and a size 22 and all my weight is in my belly. Alpengeist crushed my chest and it’s not that big! Just don’t want others as disappointed as I was today!

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