You Must Be This Tall to Ride
"Looks like you came up a bit short, Ben."
Amusement parks are the thrill of children everywhere and the bane of adults seeking to keep them under control. With rides filled with excitement, thrills, and a bit of danger, these areas are a kid's paradise.
However, due to pesky safety regulations, equipment and seats made to accommodate adults, not to mention pesky liability issues and lawsuit-happy parents, park regulations dictate that younger children can't ride the most intense, exciting and popular rides. In Real Life
, these safety concerns are perfectly valid and are there to protect children - safety harnesses that fit an adult may be too large to properly restrain a child. In fiction, this is rarely if ever pointed out. Though rarely mentioned, the inverse of this is also true of Real Life
: child-scale rides are often too small to be safe (or at least comfortable) for adults (and some adult-scale rides are too small for adults of exceptional size).
This trope is prevalent across various media, though will rarely occur in works not set between the middle of the 20th century and Twenty Minutes into the Future
. Generally, usage of this trope is followed by said kid desperate to find a way onto the ride, and doing so may be considered a Rite of Passage
into becoming a teenager. This trope may either be played for laughs in order to highlight the zany schemes that the children will take in order to sneak onto the ride, or for drama if the kids end up getting hurt due to neglecting the precautions of a very Reasonable Authority Figure
In contrast, it may also be used as an excuse for a child or young teenager who is legitimately scared of said ride. Of course, the plot requires that said child actually be tall enough to ride, in which case elaborate, wacky hijinks are played in order to avoid the ride, before finally admitting his fear, going on anyway, and generally enjoying himself. This variant is almost always played for laughs.
Anime and Manga
- This sets off the plot of a Skechers' commercial for their Pretty Tall children's sneakers, which make girls one inch taller.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: Hayate's absurdly rich mistress has an entire amusement park that was given to her as an elaborate Kick the Dog—all the rides require a height she is as yet unable to reach...and she may never grow into it.
- The plot of Big is sparked by a 13-year-old boy being told he wasn't tall enough to go on a roller coaster.
- In Final Destination 3, a couple of boys who've ducked past the "You Must Be This Tall" sign are kicked off the Devil's Flight coaster by the attendant.
- Walter in The Muppets is shown being unable to go on a carnival ride.
- In Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Alvin goes on a waterslide during the cruise by jumping above the height of the "You Must Be This Tall" sign. No, really.
- In Problem Child 2, during the fair scene, Junior tries to get on the Crazy Dance ride, but is told that he has to be as tall as the tentacle, which he just barely isn't ("But it's only a millimeter!"). After getting the usual teasing from the local bully, he encounters Trixie, the girl who's just as bad as Junior is, who wears elevator shoes in order to get on the ride. This gets Junior mad enough to mess with the speed of the ride to make everyone barf.
- In Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, when Mickey is in a dungeon that's rapidly filling with water, a sign reads "You must be this tall to survive this dungeon".
- One Curious George book has George go to an amusement park but being too small ride on a roller coaster or play with bunnies in the petting zoo. He then has a dream that he grew to five times his previous size, only to find he's now too big to fit on the roller coaster and too large to play with the bunnies safely.
- In the Strong Bad e-mail "theme park" in Homestar Runner, The Cheat tried to be tall enough to ride the Bowels of Trogdor roller coaster, but was unable to do so even when standing on tiptoes and wearing a top hat, so Strong Bad recommended he go to Sweet Cuppin Cakes Land instead, much to his disappointment.
- In the Ben 10 episode "A Small Problem", Ben is told he's too short to go down a water slide, which he immediately decides to rectify by turning into Ripjaws. Maybe it's for the best that he ended up as the less-noticeable Grey Matter instead.
- In an episode of The Cleveland Show Rollo is exited to go to an amusement park because he's finally tall enough to ride on the roller coaster. But when he gets there they measure him not counting his Giant Afro and he's still too short.
- Dexter's Laboratory: The episode "Ewww That's Growth" is about Dexter being upset about his pint-sized height; one of the ways his stature makes his life harder is that he's denied going on a rollercoaster with his family. After he makes himself very tall with an invention of his, he is allowed onto the ride (during which he crashes painfully into a wall.)
- Kick Buttowski has this problem with a ride. The ride operator takes pity on him.
- The Mighty B!: Bessie is too short (by one-sixteenth of an inch!) to go on the ride, but her dog threatens the operator and he bends the rules so the dog won't rat him out.
- Subverted and lampshaded in the Robot Chicken sketch "Attack of the Giant Midget". A dwarf, turned into a giant by a Mad Scientist, goes on a rampage through an amusement park. It comes to a "you must be this tall" sign, then pauses a moment to let the irony sink in before continuing on its rampage.
- The Sinbad the Sailor segment of Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights has the captain (who is depicted as a dwarf, similar to Mr. Spacely or Mr. Peebles) being too short for a log ride filled with the treasure he's after. He reacts by destroying the measurement sign and gets on the ride anyway.
- The What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode "Roller Ghoster Ride" featured a few scenes that had a young boy being told that he was too short to go on certain rides (such as the Sky-Diving Simulator, the Slingshot and the Rocket Coaster). In the end, after the villain of the episode was caught, he asks the gang why he wasn't considered a suspect (despite having a decent motive to do it), Velma explains that it was because he was too small to actually fit in the costume. In the end, the boy gets to ride with Shaggy and Scooby on the food-based ride that was built for the amusement park.
- On The Simpsons, Bart attempts to subvert the trope in "Selma's Choice" by applying ice cream bars to the bottom of his shoes to meet the height requirement. It gets played straight when the ride starts and he nearly falls out going through a loop because he is not big enough for the safety bar to catch him.
- In "Lisa the Vegetarian", Bart faced the opposite problem at a ride for not being short enough. But he did make the Mother Goose train more fun for the preschoolers, though!
- Becomes a plot point in Universal Theme Parks' The Simpsons Ride as a way to remind riders of the actual safety restrictions! The preshow video reveals that Maggie is too small for the new Krustyland ride, and left with Grampa, who has all the prohibited health conditions (heart problems, etc.). Alas, he falls asleep, she wanders off...and it becomes a Brick Joke in the ride itself.
- On Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, Whiskers and Gaston le Gecko launch a protest over the shorter animals not being allowed on a water park ride called "Flumes of Fury." The lifeguard who kept preventing from going on the ride explains that the rules are supposed to prevent people from getting hurt, and even Brandy points out that there are some things you just might be too small for. Whiskers and Gaston, however, refuse to the listen to them and force themselves onto the ride...where they get injured due to their short stature.
- One House of Mouse short has Donald's nephews try to make themselves taller to go on a fast ride, but are constantly sidetracked by their uncle.
- In one Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi episode (The Ride Stuff), Kaz is too short to go on a roller coaster, so Ami and Yumi disguise him as a British rock star lady by Yumi standing on top of Kaz. Kaz even lets out a Sneeze of Doom...and the guy operating the coaster isn't suspicious! The plan works, and he gets on.
- A devil once persuaded Johnny Bravo into raising the minimum required height to make children suffer. The ride turned out to be dangerous and they actually saved the kids from harm.
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Lilo tried to use one of the experiments to get past this limitation only to learn there's maximum height requirements as well.
- Phineas and Ferb: L.O.V.E.-M.U.F.F.I.N. once held a contest to pick a leader and there was a rule like that for the entrants. Sorry, Professor Diminutive, they can do that 'cause they're evil.
- An episode of Curious George has George being told he's too small to go on a ride at an amusement park and he does everything he can to make himself grow. He's later told that as a monkey, he won't get bigger or taller than he already is, so the ride attendant takes out a sign that reads "You Must Be This Tall If You're A Monkey".
- An episode of Uncle Grandpa has Pizza Steve trying to get on a ride based on him. He actually succeds, only to find out why such regulations exist.
- In "D.W. & Bud's Higher Purpose" on Arthur, D.W. and Bud spend most of the story trying to figure out a way around one of these restrictions to ride "The Buzzard." When they actually finally succeed, they end up making the surprisingly mature decision that it's too much for them and end up heading off to ride a more kiddie ride.