Providing Equal Access to Amusement Parks
June 13, 2013
By Autism Society
The Autism Society strives to nurture equal opportunities where all people, regardless of abilities, are provided and accepted as part of the diverse fabric of communities. Having fun and enjoying leisure time with family and friends are important aspects of a fulfilling life and thriving in the community at large.
Cedar Fair -- who operates 11 amusement parks across the country, including VA’s Kings Dominion and OH’s Cedar Point -- discontinued an autism-specific program last year. They approached the Autism Society wanting to ensure offering equal access to their attractions to all guests. The Autism Society provided feedback on their drafted pass program. While this policy does not provide immediate access to guests with autism, it excuses them from actually waiting in line (which can be problematic for some on the spectrum) therefore granting equal access to rides with wait times experienced by other guests of the park. While waiting for the ride time, guests can enjoy many other attractions of the park as outlined on the pass or visit sensory friendly locations available throughout the park. At the designated time, pass holders proceed through the exit to take their seat on the ride. The Autism Society advised Cedar Fair, but policy and implementation plans where the ultimately the decision of Cedar Fair and its employees.
Additionally for families considering an amusement park visit, the Autism Society developed information and vacation tips for those living with autism. Click here for more information on enjoying the amusement park.
Scott Badesch, CEO and President of the Autism Society, clarifies why nurturing equality is a vital role in an ever-changing community: “We strongly support individuals throughout the lifespan to gain equal access to services. Our role was to discuss with Cedar Fair the challenges autism can present, and identify accommodations that provide all park goers with equal access to entertainment. It is through equality that we successfully remove the divide between the autism community and the community at large, and simply can live together at home, at work, and at play.”
Autism Society initiatives such as Safe and SoundTM, Sensory Friendly FilmsTM and the FOCUSTM Employment Program, involve corporate and public service organizations interested in increasing awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum and provide great access to opportunities where those living with autism can participate fully in their communities. Oftentimes, through education and simple modifications, these programs can “level the playing field” so that individuals with autism have equal access to community events, employment, or areas of interest.
We are aware that some in the autism community have concerns with the policy change and we continue to work with Cedar Fair to address these concerns. Anyone needing to discuss the Autism Society’s role further can contact Vice President of Programs Jennifer Repella: 301.657.0881, ext 9014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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