Disney Fan Loses 230 Pounds Due to Accessibility Issues at Florida Theme Parks

Disney World Guest
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

A Disney World fan has shared his story about becoming a “slimmer person” and how spending thousands to change his life has been for the better.

A large, colorful archway sign welcomes visitors to Walt Disney World, featuring its iconic slogan

Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney parks worldwide pride themselves on being welcoming. It’s part of the ethos of The Walt Disney Company; it runs through its skeleton. Back in 2021, Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro quoted Walt Disney himself in a public blog post: “To all who come to this happy place: Welcome.”

The executive went on to say how Disney was “creating a place where everyone is welcome” and how “that means cultivating an environment where all people feel welcomed and appreciated for their unique life experiences.”

Guests walking down Main Street, U.S.A. in Walt Disney World Resort

Credit: Lee (myfrozenlife), Flickr

While the sentiment is there, and everything Disney creates has universal appeal, logistically, this is not always the case.

Under health and safety guidelines, attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort—and any theme park, for that matter—have strict conditions for guests. Some of those conditions relate to guest height, weight, and age—if the attraction contains adult elements (think Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort), for example.

Guests ride TRON

Credit: Disney

As for Walt Disney World, the official resort website includes this information on each of its attraction pages. The rules about these often lead to disappointment from guests who don’t meet the requirements to ride. For Ben Clark, he was unable to enjoy many of Disney’s attractions due to his weight.

But that has all changed thanks to a £5,000 (approx. $6,300) surgery that has seen the English native lose 231 pounds.

A large, colorful archway sign welcomes visitors to Walt Disney World, featuring its iconic slogan

Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Woman Removed From Multiple Attractions at Theme Park as Breasts Cause Safety Hazard

35-year-old Ben Clark traveled to Poland in October 2022 to have gastric sleeve surgery, as reported by Kent Live. One reason behind the drastic measure was a Walt Disney World Resort vacation a month before the operation.

“He realized the need to take action on his weight when he was unable to board rides at Disney World during a trip to Orlando, Florida, US, in September 2022,” writes Kent Live. “Ben spent £5,000 on the procedure, including flights and medication, and lost 16st 7lbs and can now fit on the rides with ease.”

Cinderella walking toward Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Not only has the surgery given Clark the chance to enjoy the Florida Disney parks once again, but it has also allowed him to pursue his earlier passion for musical theater. He took the role of Prince Charming at a recent pantomime performance of Cinderella.

Ben’s next step, the article notes, is to save money to have excess skin removed and to pay for a trip back to Walt Disney World.

“I really want to have the chance to do the trip again and do those rides and experience Florida as a slimmer person,” Clark said.

Crowds on Main Street U.S.A. at Disney World with Cinderella Castle in the background

Credit: Forsaken Fotos, Flickr

The story of a guest not being able to fit onto certain rides is not an uncommon one. In fact, a social media creator based in the United Kingdom dedicated her platform to testing out rides at Thorpe Park Resort as a “plus-sized person.”

“I used all the test seats that I could find, which most people don’t have to do,” Heather O’Neill told Need to Know back in July 2022. “But rides aren’t built for plus size/fat people; it’s about accessibility and making spaces inclusive for all bodies and accessibility needs.”

Guests aboard a roller coaster going over a top hat inside Thorpe Park in the United Kingdom

Credit: Thorpe Park Resort

Similarly, the creator Jason Vaughn of @fattestedtravel often tests out rides in order to give his audience accurate information on how accessible the attraction is. Prior to the opening of the TRON Lightcycle / Run ride in Magic Kingdom, Vaughn asked Disney if he could come and try the test seat out.

Vaughn also spoke out last year, discussing how Universal Orlando Resort was making positive efforts to make people feel comfortable on rides.

Guests walking into Universal Studios Florida

Credit: Universal

Related: I’ve Been to Disney World More Than 25 Times. And as a Plus-Sized Person, I Think I’m Done.

As mentioned earlier, the official Walt Disney World Resort website provides information about certain restrictions guests may face when heading to the theme parks. When referencing body shape and size, Disney’s language (taken from the TRON Lightcycle / Run page) is as follows: “The seating and restraints on this attraction may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding.”

Do you think Disney World is doing enough for all guests? Let us know in the comments down below!

About Thomas Hitchen

When he’s not thinking about the Magic Kingdom, Thomas is usually reading a book, becoming desperately obsessed with fictional characters, or baking something delicious (his favorite is chocolate cake -- to bake and to eat). He's a dreamer and grew up on Mulan saving the world, Jim Hawkins soaring through the stars, and Padmé Amidala fighting a Nexu. At the Parks, he loves to ride Everest, stroll down Main Street with an overstuffed pin lanyard around his neck, and eat as many Mickey-shaped ice creams as possible. His favorite character is Han Solo (yes, he did shoot first), and his favorite TV show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer except when it's One Tree Hill. He loves sandy beach walks, forest hikes, and foodie days out in the Big City. Thomas lives in England, UK, with his fiancée, baby, and their dog, a Border Collie called Luna.

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