When enjoying time in the sun at a water park, you may have noticed that some slides or rides have a posted weight limit. If you’re planning a trip to a water park or a theme park with water rides, it’s always a good idea to check the weight limits to make sure that you’ll be able to slide or ride wherever you want.
Is there a weight limit for water slides?
There are no universal weight limits for water slides. Instead, many water slides or rides post a weight or height limit for that particular attraction. This can mean that, within the same water park, one slide might have a weight limit of 200 pounds while another slide might not have a weight limit at all.
In general, weight limits for water slides range from between 200 to 350 pounds. If the slide features a strap, lap bar, or another apparatus that you ride in, there may also be a height limit. For this type of ride, you usually need to be 4 feet tall, minimum.
Water slides with curves or loops are more likely to have weight limits. Straight slides generally don’t have any weight limits. Most theme or water parks post the weight limits for their rides on their websites, so you should be able to check ahead before you plan your trip.
Weight limits are also usually posted on a sign at each ride. If you’re not sure if you’re over the weight limit, there might be a nearby scale you can step on to make sure you’re able to enjoy the slide safely.
Why do some rides or slides have a weight limit?
Like regular slides at a park, water slides use gravity to propel you down a slope. The water increases your speed, helping you slip along the slide. Gravity makes heavier items fall faster, and this is true when it comes to the physics behind a water slide as well.
A heavier person will have more momentum, and their speed won’t decrease as much through turns or over uphill portions of the slide.
Many water slides use turns or loops to safely decrease a person’s speed so that they don’t hit any corners too fast. This also slows the person slightly as they exit the slide, creating a fun splash instead of a dangerous, hard landing.
These turns help to prolong the ride, making it feel more fun, but they’re actually a safety feature. However, this slight slowing doesn’t work as well for people who exceed the weight limit.
Too much momentum can also cause people, or the ride itself, to be pulled out of position. If the weight limit is exceeded, people may find that they ride too high up the wall or they’re not able to complete turns.
If people are too short for a ride or slide, there can also be issues. For example, a child who is too short for a ride can slip out from under the lap bar that is intended to keep them in place. This can also happen with shoulder harnesses. Conversely, if a person exceeds the weight limit, the harness or bar might not be big enough to secure them safely in their seat.
What are the risks of exceeding the weight limit?
Riding a water slide that’s rated for a weight lower than yours can be very dangerous. If you pick up too much speed, you might not slow enough as you exit the slide. Instead of splashing into a pool, your speed will cause you to hit the water with force.
This can result in bruises and even broken bones. If you come in too quickly, you also run the risk of slamming into the person who exited the slide ahead of you, which could injure you both.
Similarly, if you have too much momentum, you might ride up too high on the slide. If the slide is enclosed, it will most likely be safer, but you could still be flipped upside down, which can result in a hard and painful drop back to the slide’s bottom.
If the ride is open, however, you could be thrown over the edge. Many water slides are several stories tall, so being thrown over the edge could result in serious injury.
If you’re on a water ride, exceeding the weight limit can cause the ride itself to warp. This can be dangerous not only for you but also for any people riding with you or after you.
If the harness or lap bar on a ride is too big or too small for someone, that person can also be thrown from the raft or car.
Is the weight limit flexible?
Weight limits on water slides usually operate with a margin for error. For example, if the slide states that the weight limit is 250 pounds, the slide can probably safely handle 300 pounds. However, it’s never a good idea to exceed the posted weight limit, and it’s always better to obey the rules and stay safe.