Wheelchairs and amusement parksAug 01 12:38
Is it possible for someone in a wheelchair to have a pleasant experience at an amusement park? I keep wondering, because it has yet to happen to me.
I guess the problem I have is that there are so many rules and regulations at amusement parks. Part of them are for good measure; they're needed to keep us safe, but there are some rules that are a bit over the top.
For example, I was told that I couldn't ride a carousel at an amusement park. An upside down roller-coaster I can understand, but a carousel? I was a bit surprised. But what can you do? Just roll away....
As a quad, there are a lot of rides I can't go on. Rollercoasters are usually out, unless they have some really great strapping mechanism for both upper body and lower (have yet to see), but I can go on quite a number of "kiddie" rides. The Til-a-Whirl, The Scrambler, those cool cars on tracks that if you ride with another person you can totally go on.
But some amusement parks will even make you fill out a form (becoming the status quo) once you arrive. They'll give you a paper that tells you which rides you can go on (usually very limited). It can be a bummer. In the past, I would just show up at an amusement park with my trusty friend and have them help me onto rides that I knew I could handle. Unfortunately, there are people that have pushed their limits and ruined the rest of the fun for us.
I will say however that I had a pretty good time at Disneyland several years ago. There were a ton of rides I could go on, and they had some really actually positive rules in place. My number one favorite being? We always got to skip the front of the line. A very handy thing at a place like this.
At the end of the day, all we want to do is go to an amusement park and be genuinely amused, just like everybody else. We are paying full price after all. I'm really glad Morgan's Wonderland opened a few years ago (a disability amusement park in Texas), but what I would really like to see are just a few more universally friendly rides at amusement parks across the country. Too much to ask?
Have you had a great time at an amusement park? Which rides have you found work good for people with mobility impairments?
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.