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26 inMotion Volume 24, Issue 4 July | August 2014 and a subheading for ‘guests with disabilities’ or ‘accessibility.’ If I can’t find what I’m looking for, I email the park.” “When I get there, sometimes I meet a guest services employee who will deny an access pass,” she adds. “That’s when it helps to have a signed doctor’s note stating the nature and permanence of the disability. Even so, sometimes I arrive to find out the access pass policy just changed last week.” Karen says she relies heavily on word-of-mouth and social media to find the best destinations for her family, but adds, “Even then, I have to plan out every hour of the visit and create a back-up plan.” She chides, “‘Vacation’ is not an accurate description of these visits.” A cause for amusement Having done extensive research and testing, Karen says smaller theme parks seem to be more accommodating. “My family had a beautiful experience at Knoebels in Elysburg, Pennsylvania and Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada,” she says. “Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana has a ‘virtual queue’ boarding pass policy for guests with disabilities similar to the Cedar Fair, Six Flags and Disney chains. I have been told that Holiday World also makes accommodations on request and the staff will go out of its way to ensure the comfort of guests with disabilities.” Several years ago, an attendant at Six Flags America in Washington, D.C. refused to let Peggy board a ride, which soured her taste for that particular park, but she says she found Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania and Disney World in Orlando, Florida much more positive experiences. The United States Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities. Federal standards and guidelines for recreation facilities, including amusement rides, are available at access-board.gov. Policies have changed at many theme and amusement parks, but the experts agree: that’s no reason to stop finding your fun. Candy says the policy changes are very controversial: “But I think something had to be done, as the previous policy was blatantly abused. We had a New York tour company that offered VIP, essentially ‘cut to the front of the line,’ tours to Access Pass People with disabilities are eligible for the Access Pass, which affords free admission at all federal facilities that charge entrance fees, and also offers discounts for some amenities, such as camping. The free pass can be obtained at the park, which charges an entrance fee, with proof of disability, or online at: store. usgs.gov/pass/access.html. Photos courtesy of rogwilmers.com


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