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How is the rider height limit determined for rollercoasters?

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How does a ride manufacturer or a theme park set the rider height limits? Would people really fall out if they were a bit shorter?


I can't see how even a short person could fall through some of the restraints on the ride...


Some of the height limits just seem so random to me, with some bigger rides having lower limits than smaller ones.

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It has to be based on the ride manufacturers specs. They design restraints to hold a certain sized person comfortably and safely. It isn't always that someone smaller could come out of the restraints so much as they wouldn't be held securely by the restraints and could be injured because of it.


I guess I look at it kinda similarly to AirBags in cars. There is just no way to make something affordable that can accommodate everyone. So they pick a range to aim for and they design around that.


I have definitely seen plenty of rides where the height rules didn't seem to make sense. I think it typically comes down to some flat rides where the restraint is designed to hold riders in but won't stop them from escaping (I've seen this on many flat rides) and so riders need to be mature enough to stay still. On the contrary many of the larger rides have restraints that are designed to prevent escape so they don't have the same issue.


Of course this is all kinda a guess so I'm happy for someone to present a contrary opinion.

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A story: when I was little, I remember being at Kennywood and trying to see if I was tall enough for the "big rides". According to the wooden characters- Snoopy or whoever- I was tall enough for the Jack Rabbit, an "adult" coaster, but not the Little Dipper, a kiddie coaster (?) So my mom went to the manager's office and asked how this was possible. They said that the insurance companies made these decisions and they had no control over it. Of course, this was 30 years ago- maybe things have changed since then. Anyway, I find the Jack Rabbit to be much more "adult", with the double dip making you fly out of your seat, than the now-defunct Little Dipper, which was pretty lame. Strange.

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