When I was new to LA, I had gotten an annual pass to Universal Studios a couple of times. Then when I worked there at Halloween Horror Nights in 2007, 2008, and 2010 I had free tickets from working. But since my last season of working in 2010, I hadn’t been back to the park. They had made a bunch of upgrades and changes over the years, but this month they opened The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter so I figured it was time to go back to check it out (it also helped that Costco is selling an annual pass for $94!).
Overall, I think the day went pretty well. But there was one thing that got to me. But first, the good stuff.
As soon as we got to the park, we made a stop to get lunch (we got there around 12:30). We could have chosen to eat somewhere outside the park, but we figured why not have some fun and eat somewhere inside. We originally thought we would eat at the restaurant in the Harry Potter area, but the restaurant had a pretty long line so we decided it wasn’t worth it. We ended up at the restaurant in the Simpsons area of the park and we all got some pretty yummy burgers!
After getting some food, it was time to have some fun! The first ride that I went on was the Transformers ride which had been built since the last time I was in the park so it was new to me! This ride is a simulator ride that does move around a track and has both a 3-D movie and sets combined. I really like simulator rides and I thought this one was extremely well done! The sets and screens blended together nicely and it really felt like we were moving the entire time! I wish we had time to go on it again, but since I have an annual pass I can now go on it whenever I want.
After that ride, we headed back up to the upper lot to meet up with one of June’s friends who was joining us. We met up at the Harry Potter section of the park where we got some Butterbeers to cool down in the heat.
I thought it was pretty good and I think I’ll probably get it again the next time I’m at the park. We also wandered around the area a lot admiring how cool it looked and seeing all the kids use their wands to make things happen in the store fronts.
We did ride the Forbidden Journey ride, but more about that in a bit. We also rode the little rollercoaster in that area. Even though it is a kid’s coaster, it did go pretty quickly and I thought it was really fun.
When we left Harry Potter, we headed down to the studio tour.
One of June’s friends had never been on the studio tour and they had changed things since I had been there, so we were all pretty excited to go on it (plus, we got to be in the shade and got a bit of a breeze when the tram was moving). The studio tour is such a classic. I love getting to see the various backlot spaces and the fun things that are added to the tour (like King Kong) are always entertaining. And I love going past Bates Motel since that is where I worked for 3 years.
Since the last time I was at Universal Studios, they had added a Fast and Furious thing to the tram tour at the very end. It is done similarly to King Kong with giant screens wrapping around the tram (and they even have a screen in the very front unlike in King Kong). It was really fun and a cute addition to the tram tour, but I do miss the avalanche/Mummy cave that used to be there.
After the tram tour, one of June’s friends needed to head home. We walked around the upper lot a bit checking out all the fun little signs that Universal has added to make the upper lot more fun (and more like Disneyland).
Then we headed over to Waterworld to watch the show (and enjoy the shade in the stands). The show has been around for a while and it hasn’t changed much, but it’s still really fun to watch the performers doing the stunts.
Ok, now time to talk about the not-so-fun part of my day. The first ride we rode in the Harry Potter area was the Forbidden Journey ride. When that ride opened in Florida there were dozens of news stories about how fat people were being turned away from the ride. I knew that the ride here had similar restrictions, but a couple of my friends who are 2 sizes bigger than me rode the ride and had no issues. And I searched a bunch of online forums and it seemed like my measurements would fit into the seats just fine.
I loved walking through the line (we took our time since there really wasn’t a line and we wanted to see everything) and right before you get onto the ride there is the “fat police” who looks for heavier people and makes them try a test seat to see if they fit. And yes, I got picked out by the fat police.
I’m sure the employee was trying to be nice, but it was pretty humiliating especially since everyone else walking through the line saw what was happening. And honestly, I fit into the seat just fine. I just wasn’t able to close the harness to the level they needed it to be closed for really random issues. First, the seat tilts back and since my hips don’t bend all the way I had to be part way out of the seat to get the harness to come down. And my arms weren’t able to get the harness all the way down (there was maybe an inch between me and the harness) because of the angle of the seating. But when one of June’s friends came over, she was very easily able to push the harness down to the level that they need it to be at. The employee said it would be fine for me to ride so we headed on our way down the ride.
When we got to the ride, I had the same issue with not being able to get the harness down to where my body is. I asked the employees there to help and they said they weren’t allowed to push down the harness (again, there was like an inch between my body and the harness). They were trying to take me off the ride when I finally convinced them to let June’s friend out of her seat so she could press the harness down for me. Even after everything was fine, there were 3 employees asking me if I was sure if I wanted to ride the ride and if I was ok. Yes I wanted to ride the ride! I was just mad at them because they wouldn’t help me pull a safety harness down (and I understand that maybe they legally cannot touch a safety harness, but I was still annoyed).
The ride itself was fun. I loved the half movie half real set aspect of it and even though the 3-D has been getting negative reviews I didn’t think it was that bad. But honestly I didn’t enjoy the ride as much as I could have because I really felt awful for being called out by the fat police.
I’m so insanely grateful for June and her friends for being so cool about all of it. They never made me feel bad and they also agreed that it was pretty ridiculous that they refused to help me. They didn’t make it feel like a big deal and after we were on the ride they never brought the subject up again because there was no need. But even though we weren’t talking about it, I was still thinking about it.
Now that I know that because of the tilt of the seat it is difficult for me to pull the harness down, when I ride again I’ll sit down first and have a friend help me pull it down. But this also means that I cannot go to the park alone if I want to ride because I need the help. Honestly, I think even if I was 100 pounds less I’d have the same issues because my hips literally won’t bend that way when I’m sitting tilted back. So it’s not even as much of a weight thing for me as it is a hip issue thing for me.
I really tried to not let the fat police incident ruin the rest of my day at Universal, but it definitely put a damper on my day. That one tiny experience was really the only negative thing about the day and it sadly is one of the bigger memories.
Hopefully the next time I go to Universal I will have a better experience and will have better memories of the day.