By Adria Nassim
I recently took a trip to King’s Island in Ohio with some friends. Amusement parks tend to be a popular destination for families during the summer. Just because families may have a child or adult with disabilities doesn’t mean they can’t take them along to take advantage of all the fun and shenanigans a day at the amusement park can offer. Actually, several amusement parks, including King’s Island, have now developed programs and services aimed at allowing visitors with disabilities to have a great experience.
First, I want to explain why individuals with certain types of disabilities can sometimes have a difficult time with theme parks. Individuals with diagnoses such as autism or other disabilities that may affect sensory processing may struggle to cope with the busy environment, loud noises, and crowds of a theme park. Individuals with disabilities can also have challenges with standing in line for a long time.
The first time I went to an amusement park without my family was when I was in my early 20s. I went with a youth ministry group, but it wasn’t a group specifically for people with disabilities. That may have helped me become comfortable with going to a park with other young people. It might also have helped my parents feel more confident about me going without them.
Families and friends can more easily take along people with disabilities
When I went to King’s Island, the park offered a boarding pass program specifically aimed at serving guests with autism and physical disabilities. My friends and I went to guest services at the front of the park as soon as we arrived. We told them I had autism and would like a boarding pass. The pass allows visitors with disabilities and their parties to board a ride at a specific time. Instead of having to stand in line and wait to board, we were allowed to go do whatever we wanted until it was time to ride. We were also allowed to go directly to the front in the event a line had formed when it was our time to board a ride. So, thanks to the pass, we never had to wait in a long line.
Taking on the roller coasters is my favorite part of the trip to an amusement park
I thought it was a really good system, and we all had a lot of fun. Some theme parks such as Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari have also added calming rooms in the last few years for guests with sensory challenges who may need a break from all the commotion.
My favorite part of our trip to Kings Island was riding all the roller coasters. I don’t know if I even actually like them or not, but I like to challenge myself. I always feel really accomplished when I finish a ride. It’s like I’ve slayed some steel monster.
If you’re interested in visiting an amusement park or finding out about their disability-related services and programs, you can usually find more information on their websites under the Accessibility tab.