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You Must Be This Tall to Ride

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"Looks like you came up a bit short, Ben."

Marina: Hey, Pearl. Why do you always wear those thick-soled boots to this park?
Pearl: My dad gave them to me. They make me tall enough to ride the rides...

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 suddenly grow tall enough for it, 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/her fear, going on anyway, and generally enjoying him/herself. This variant is almost always played for laughs.

See also Totem Pole Trench for a common plan to circumvent height limits. May lead to Height Angst.


    open/close all folders 

  • This sets off the plot of a Skechers' commercial for their Pretty Tall children's sneakers, which make girls one inch taller.
  • The commercial for New Swirled Crunch Berries where Cap'n Crunch crunchatizes 3 kids who are too short to ride the Swing-N-Whirl by growing a Crunchberry tree, his enemy Jean LaFoote appears as a growth chart who came alive later.

  • 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.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: Hayate's absurdly rich mistress has an entire amusement park that was given to her by her cruel grandfather 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.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The poster for Good Boys has the characters beneath a "You must be this tall to see this movie" sign, with an R rating above it.

  • 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.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End: Manny is unable to take part in any activities in a family adventure theme park other than a water slide since they require a certain age and height, as shown in one drawing where he can't reach a bear's paw that functions as minimum height.

    Live-Action TV 

    Puppet Shows 

    Theme Parks 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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!"
    • Within the campaign itself, there are two separate jokes the survivors can make.
      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.
  • Inverted in The ClueFinders 4th Grade Adventures: The Puzzle of the Pyramid. The Egyptian gods would like to help stop the Evil Plan, but it turns out they're too tall to enter the pyramid where this is taking place. So the gods give their powers to the eponymous protagonists, who are average-sized human teenagers able to enter the doorway.
  • 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 to 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 Pizza Tower, one random wooden cutout piece in the background of the Slum area is a sign that reads "You need to be this tall". Beneath the measurement line is a pixel-perfect outline of the protagonist Peppino, who is one pixel short of being tall enough (including his hat).
  • Psychonauts 2's final level, a parody of It's a Small World, has one of these signs blocking Raz and Lili from further exploring the mind of the Big Bad. To get in, Raz simply breaks the legs of the size-measuring sign and somehow manages to convince the operator that they're older now.
    Lili: We're VIPs.
    Ride Operator: Oh, does that stand for Vertically Impaired Preteens?

    Web Animation 
  • 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.
  • One of the bullet points in this Neurotically Yours rant is that there are people who go to amusement parks or other recreational places that, for whatever reason or for the sheer proof that human stupidity is constant, decide to bypass any and all safety measures that are there for the protections of the amusement park patrons.


    Web Original 
  • Referenced in What If? article #77, pointing out that if a person maintained the growth rate they had as a baby for their entire life, they would only be within the safe height for roller coasters for one year.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Amphibia episode "Sprig's Birthday", one of the many things Anne does with Sprig is take him to an amusement park in Santa Monica. He's denied entrance to a rollercoaster on account of being too short, but his Puppy-Dog Eyes and the fact it's his birthday win the operator over and he's allowed on. Sprig repeatedly slips out of his seat during the ensuing ride, and Anne has to grab him by the arm to stop him falling out entirely.
  • 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.
  • Pictured above: 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, Rallo 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 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 because of a hitch in his invention he didnít notice; while waiting in line he grew a few more feet than necessary).
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: When Inch High Private Eye gets embiggened in an episode, the very first thing he does is rush to a nearby amusement park and get on a ride that has this sign. He makes the park attendant repeat himself when they allow him on the ride.
  • 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.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • 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" features a Running Gag that involves a young boy being told that he is 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 is 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:
  • 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 a "safety thing" to prevent people from potentially getting hurt—Brandy brings up the fact about 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.
  • House of Mouse:
    • In "Goofy's Menu Magic", Goofy suddenly becomes a master chef (thanks to Fairy Godmother's magic wand) and Mickey asks to watch him cook in the kitchen. Goofy refuses and puts up a cardboard cutout of himself, saying "You must be this tall, and goofy, to enter".
    • Inverted in "House Ghosts", when Daisy tells Paul Bunyan that he's too tall to enter the club. However, he turns out to be the Seven Dwarfs in costume.
    • The short "Donald's Rocket Ruckus" has Donald's nephews trying to make themselves taller to go on a fast ride, but are constantly sidetracked by their uncle. They actually are tall enough to ride, but Donald decided to be a jerk and raise the sign a few inches higher.
  • In the Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi episode "The Ride Stuff", Kaz is too short to go on a rollercoaster, so Ami and Yumi disguise him as a British rock star lady by Yumi standing on top of Kaz. Kaz even lets out an Ill-Timed Sneeze... and the guy operating the coaster isn't suspicious! The plan works, and he gets on... but the safety bar won't go down all the way.
  • 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 overdo the growth and learn there are 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, Doctor Diminutive, they can do that 'cause they're evil.
    • A requirement to be a Flawless Girl in "Attack of the 50 Foot Sister" is to be never under 5'10". Candace is 5'8", 2 inches shorter than this. She attempts to remedy this problem with a growth potion the boys invented; however, it backfired on her and made her 50 feet tall, as one could guess from the title of the episode.
  • 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.
    • In "Hex Games", Vicky installs one of these signs on a popular ramp as part of her tyrannical rule as "Queen of the Skate Park". After successfully challenging her for the position, the first thing Timmy does is tear the sign down.
      Timmy: Thank you, thank you! And as the new Queen of the Skate Park, I decree... [Pushes a button, making Chester's braces produce a laser that destroys the sign] LET MY PEOPLE SKATE!
  • 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 Peridot, 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. When she tries to get on, it at first looks like she just edges over the requirement... until Mr. Smiley pushes down on the top of her head, revealing that the "triangle" is just hair.
  • 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 sweet-talk the operator into letting him on.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In "The Incredible Shrinking Town" Jimmy is banned from the Vomitorium due to his short size. Jimmy loses his temper about it and attempts to use his shrink ray on the ride attendant, but before he could use it, the ray gets knocked out of his hands by a couple of his classmates running about to barf and then gets flung into the air, landing on a hit-the-target mini-game and when the coach hits it, it goes crazy by shrinking everyone in Retroville.
  • In "Sally's Not Amused" from Pete the Cat, Sally experiences this with every ride at the amusement park save the ones in the "baby" section, to the point where she starts experiencing serious Height Angst. Callie and the other kids snap her out of it by singing a song to her about all the great things about being small, and she is also cheered up during a show later on when she turns out someone small is needed to top a pyramid. Finally, at the end of the story, Sally tells the others that she wants them to go on on all the rides they withheld going on because of her, saying that they made her happy and she wants them to be happy.
  • Pippi Longstocking: "Pippi Enters the Big Race", the registrar tries to prevent Pippi from entering the race by pointing out she doesn't meet the minimum height requirement. Pippi's pigtails go up on their own when she gets measured, allowing her to meet the requirement.
  • Briefly mentioned at the very beginning of the Dragon Tales episode "One Big Wish". After the kids come home from the carnival, Max expresses how upset he is that he wasn't tall enough to go on the roller coaster.
  • Inverted in the Sonic Boom episode "Mombot": Dr. Eggman gets disqualified from the children's science fair because he exceeded the maximum height.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "The Stud, the Nerd, the Average Joe, and the Saint", Yosemite Sam is trying to get people to sign a petition so he can get his guns back, since the government took them away from him because he wasn't using them responsibly. One of the flashbacks shows Sam shooting at a cutout of a minimum height requirement at the carnival because he wasn't tall enough to ride the roller coaster.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "The Wreck of the Mauna Loa", when Mr. Krabs believes SpongeBob and Patrick have stumbled upon what he thinks is the titular sunken ship, but is actually an amusement park ride based on it. One boy can't go on the ride due to not being tall enough, but Mr. Krabs pushes the sign down until it's shorter than the boy.
    • At the end of "Say 'Awww!'", after Plankton's latest invention, Q.T.-Pi, is converted into a ride at Glove World, Plankton is dismayed when he is turned away for being too short to ride despite being the one who built the robot in the first place.
  • In "Fairground Chip" from Chip and Potato, Chip and Nico encounter this with the rollercoaster at the fairground. This is a problem because Nico is approved to go on it, but Chip gets denied after Nico has already boarded and Nico is scared to ride without Chip. Chip therefore lends Nico her Potato in order to help calm him down.
  • The Pet Alien episode "Attack of the 50 Foot Boy" has a fairground ride that Tommy is slightly too short to ride, which the measuring machine even mocks him for. When the aliens make Tommy taller, Tommy not only gets to ride it after all, but he gets his revenge by stomping the machine to pieces.
  • In "Lost and Found" from PB&J Otter, Peanut and Jelly Otter are at an amusement park and Jelly is tall enough to ride, but the attendant is unsure about Peanut, whom he refers to as her "little brother" despite him being older than her. As it turns out, he is just tall enough if he stretches and the attendant is too laissez-faire to care that he stretched.


Video Example(s):


Tiny Tommy of Earth

Tommy wants to ride the newest ride on the fairgrounds, but is slightly too short.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouMustBeThisTallToRide

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