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 20 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.
- This sets off the plot of a Skechers' commercial for their Pretty Tall children's sneakers, which make girls one inch taller.
- Simple Samosa: In "Carnival Chaos", Vada keeps getting barred from riding the carnival rides due to being too short, much to his annoyance since his friends are tall enough to get on the rides.
- 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".
- 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 (she doesn't get caught because the skirt she's wearing is long enough to hide the platforms). This gets Junior mad enough to mess with the speed of the ride to make everyone barf.
- 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.
- A little person on an episode of Murphy Brown complained about how embarrassing it was to be shooed away by Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.
- Inverted in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The gang goes to a waterpark and Mac and Dee are excited to go on their favorite slide from when they were kids. However, the lifeguard points out the slide is meant for kids and people taller than five feet are not allowed to ride. They ignore him and go down the slide anyway. Mac's legs proceed get stuck during one of the turns and they wind up trapped for hours.
- Parodied in The Far Side: A giant monster encounters a sign even taller than itself reading "You Must Be This Tall To Attack The City".
- Garfield and Odie wore Jon's shirt to get past that.
- This strip has three signs: "Beware of Dog"; "Thrills Galore!"; and "You must be this tall to be bitten". The minimum height requirement is very low.
- The Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition level "Babe Land" has a sign with Duke's likeness before a ride entrance, saying "You must be 48 pixels tall to enter".
- In Left 4 Dead 2, the poster for the Dark Carnival campaign (which is set in an Amusement Park of Doom) reads "You must be this tall... TO DIE!"
Nick: You've gotta be this tall to get in, Ellis. Sorry buddy, you'll be missed.Coach: "You must be this tall to ride." Well, at least there won't be any jockeys.
- Within the campaign itself, there are two separate jokes the survivors can make.
- The Curse of Monkey Island: When Guybrush is trapped in the Carnival of the Damned, all he has to do to escape is go out through the gate leading to the roller coaster — but the roller coaster has a You Must Be This Tall restriction, and he's also been magically reverted to childhood, so he's too short to be allowed through.
- In Batman: Arkham City, Harley Quinn's message on the speaker radio in the Steel Mill starts off with: "Welcome to Mr. J's Carnival. You must be 74 inches tall to ride." (This is a reference to Batman's in-game bio, which lists his height as 6 foot 2 inches - 74 inches on the nose.)
- In SPY Fox 2: Some Assembly Required, Napoleon Le Roach's backstory involves him being disallowed as a child from going into a Famous French Pastries of the Past exhibit for this reason (being a cockroach, he was too short pass through the turnstile) and everyone else in line laughing at him for it. This is what inspired him to build a giant Dogbot that would be gradually wound up by people going through the World's Fair entrance turnstile and then go on a rampage once ready.
- The trailer for the Nuka-World DLC for Fallout 4 features Cappy and Bottle, the mascots of Nuka-World, demonstrating safety the hard way. One of the rides has a maximum height limit, which Bottle tries limboing under. He then finds out why there's a height limit when the coaster reaches a tunnel ...
- 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 this Loading Artist strip, the protagonist is denied the right to ride on a roller coaster because of height. The protagonist makes accordion-like shoes which give him added height... and which he uses to kick and knock out the ride attendant.
- Hark! A Vagrant: In "Founding Fathers (stuck in an amusement park)" James Madison argues about such a sign with a carny.
- In Housepets! the Milton Ferrets open a theme park, then Keene notices that the height requirement is taller than he is, so he has it lowered.
- Cosmic Dash has a height check before some rides in the Schmoofyland amusement park. Dorian and Kraker easily clear the mark, but Guugel, being a small Oculothorax, is rejected.
- Penny Arcade: After Tycho is taken over by a headcrab, it spent the first day controlling his body going to Six Flags and riding all the rollercoasters it was too small to ride on its own.
- Angelo Rules plays it for drama, with one episode revolving around Angelo trying to help his friend Sherwood get on a zip line he's slightly too short for. He achieves this by giving the guy on duty (false) tips to win over his sister.
- 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 the Mickey Mouse Works short Donald's Rocket Ruckus, Huey Dewey and Louie all want to go on the rocket ride but Donald, who is the ride's engineer, fears they'll get hurt and imposes a minimum height bar on them. The three all pass, and so Donald raises the bar on purpose.
- In an episode of The Cleveland Show Rollo is excited 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 midget (specifically 6'5, which is giant by midget standards but only a bit over average height) by a Mad Scientist, goes on a rampage through an amusement park, where the attendant is now forced to allow him access to the rollercoaster rides. The dwarf pauses its rampage to enjoy the ride before resuming.
- 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 getting 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.
- The Simpsons:
Bart: *the safety bars locks over him* Woah, that ain't good...
- In "Selma's Choice", Bart applies ice cream bars to the bottom of his shoes to meet the height requirement. He then experiences the point of the height requirement 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. He did make the Mother Goose train more fun for the preschoolers, though!
- The preshow video in the Universal Theme Parks' The Simpsons Ride reminds riders of the actual safety restrictions by showing 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.
- In "Caper Chase", Mr. Burns is a member of a secret society whose entrance door has a sign reading "You must be this rich to enter".
- On Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, Whiskers and Gaspar le Gecko launch a protest over the shorter animals not being allowed on a water park ride called "Flumes of Fury" (or a majority of the other rides at the park). Brandy and the lifeguard/ride attendant who kept preventing them from getting on the ride explain that it's "safety thing" to prevent people from potentially getting hurt—Brandy brings up the fact on how animals like Whiskers and Gaspar are just going to have to deal with the fact that there are some things that they just might be too small for. Whiskers and Gaspar, however, refuse to listen to them and force themselves onto the ride...where they get injured due to their small statures.
- 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. Played With in that they actually were tall enough to ride, but Donald decided to be a jerk and raise the sign a few inches taller.
- 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 just to make children suffer. But the ride turned out to be really dangerous, so they actually ended up saving the kids from harm.
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series: In the episode "Short Stuff", Stitch tried to use Jumba's growth ray 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 Uncle Grandpa has Pizza Steve trying to get on a ride based on him. He actually succeeds, 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.
- The Fairly Oddparents: In "Love at First Height," Timmy and his two best friends, Chester and AJ, are too short to ride a certain rollercoaster at a park called Adrenaland. According to AJ's calculations, none of them will be tall enough to ride the until they're at least sixteen—Chester and AJ try remedying this by using a "tall kid kit" to look like an adult and end up being invited to a kid-free area of the park. Timmy just wishes he's sixteen years old and his fairy godparents grant the wish.
- Steven Universe: In the episode "Too Short To Ride", Steven, Amethyst and Peridot are all too short to ride the roller-coaster at Funland. Steven and Amethyst can make themselves taller by shapeshifting and are able to ride. Peridot, however, is unable to shapeshift, due to being an Era 2 Gem, which don't have the powers of Era 1 Gems due to dwindling Homeworld resources. Steven and Amethyst spend the rest of the episode trying to make her feel better.
- In "Curious George vs. the Turbo Python 3000," on the PBS animated Curious George, both George and a little boy are stymied by this. George tries various tactics such as wearing a tall hat and raising up his arms, but they don't work. Then he tries to get bigger, only for a strong-man to tell him that he'll be as big and strong as him if he follows his routine... in five years. Then he hears that sleeping helps you to grow and so he goes to sleep, and has a dream in which he grows huge, only to be told that he can't ride the Turbo Python 3000 because he's too big to fit in the seat. In the end, George wins because Captain Zany, the head of the park, already had a loophole built in. He knows that monkeys don't grow very big, and so he spins around the sign revealing the "monkey sign," which is how tall monkeys must be to ride.
- In the Bob's Burgers episode "Bye-Bye Boo-Boo", Boo-Boo uses this as the theme and marketing ploy for his first solo album. The album is titled "You Must Be This Tall To Ride My Heart" and he promotes it by going on roller coasters with contest winners. He indignantly insists in his promotional video that he is in fact tall enough to ride roller coasters now, and when he goes to the measuring sign at Wonder Wharf, he just barely makes the requirement, as pointed out by the MC. In "Boyz 4 Now" he was forced to use a booster seat on the tour bus because he hadn't even hit 80 lbs yet. Needless to say, he has a bit of a complex about his size.
MC: Just kissing the line there.
- Family Guy: "Amish Guy" had a variation where the gang visits Six Flags, only to discover that the main rollercoaster has a weight limit (you're not allowed to ride if you're fat enough to look hilarious on a miniscooter) and Peter is way over it. After a few half-hearted attempts at losing weight, Peter decides to cheat by wearing a girdle, manages to get on a new ride that just opened... and the chain pulling the carts up the track snaps, causing a crash that kills at least one kid attendant.
- American Dad! had an episode where Reggie (a CIA agent whose brain was put in a koala bear) takes Hayley on a date to an amusement park only to be turned away because he's way too short for the rollercoaster. He manages to sweettalk the operator into letting him on.