Amusement Parks Need to Better Accommodate People With Disabilities
There’s a first time for everything, and this past week was a big first for my family. We loaded up the car and took my son, Cayden, to an amusement park for the first time. While it sure was a lot of fun, there were also some challenges.
The first issue was that there weren’t many rides he could go on. Because of his Pompe disease, Cayden has very low muscle tone. This means that seats for him must have a high back in order for him to sit properly. The more supportive they are, the better. Most of the rides were just too rough for him to ride alone. However, due to the height limit, I couldn’t ride with him.
My little brother could ride with him on a few, but the options were pretty limited. My brother is only 15 months older than Cayden, so he’s still young himself! I don’t want to put Cayden’s safety in the hands of a child, just because I know how nerve-wracking that can be for everyone involved.
Another issue was the bathroom situation. Cayden isn’t a baby, but he’s still in diapers. I think many people fail to realize this about others with disabilities. The family bathrooms the amusement park had weren’t very suitable for Cayden’s needs.
While there was a baby-changing station in one of the buildings, it was overcrowded and way too small for him. These baby-changing stations are for smaller babies and infants, not toddlers. At 30 pounds and a little over 3 feet tall, Cayden is just too big for most of the changing tables that are offered in public places.
There was one accessible bathroom in the entire amusement park. While I appreciate this, it was hard having just one. Some children don’t like to wait to have their diapers changed. Who would? With only one accessible bathroom, we would’ve had to walk very far to get to it depending on where we were, which wasn’t always feasible.
This left us with one option: changing him in the stroller in the middle of a crowded amusement park. I felt very bad. Who wants to be exposed for any and everyone to see? I sure wouldn’t. I had my sisters stand beside the stroller while I got him changed and cleaned up as quickly as I possibly could.
After we left the park that day, I really got to thinking. Do amusement parks take people with disabilities into consideration when building and operating their parks? Do they ask people with disabilities about ways they could make their park better and more suitable? Would they even be willing to make changes to their park if these concerns were brought to them?
In this day and age, I think it’s important to accommodate everybody, especially people with disabilities. They have every right to be able to go out and enjoy their lives just like anyone else. Some amusement parks do an amazing job accommodating people with disabilities, and I think that all parks across the country should do the same.
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Very interesting article. Eye opening and something for amusement parks to consider.