Waterpark Blues

One of the biggest stumbling blocks that we face, when we’re going out to an amusement park, is how to cope with the water park.

Most water parks are not really built to accommodate people with disabilities.  It’s easier with a land-based ride, since there’s usually an exit and an entrance, and most parks seem to use the exit as a ‘fast-pass/disability’ access point.  But a water ride… usually has one way to ride it, and going in the exit doesn’t work.

And like a lot of kids with Autism, the Monster is drawn to the water.  He’s not much for land rides – he has to be in a particular mood to want to go on one – but water, he’s there like gangbusters.

So this is obviously a problem.  We’ve been sticking to the lazy river at Sesame Place, and the Count’s Splash Castle and the other ‘open-play’ water areas, but haven’t figured out how to handle the slides.  We have similar problems at other parks, and have made similar adaptations.

However, there’s these three little numbered tabs on the bracelet that they give the Monster each time when we go to Sesame Place.  Apparently, these are ‘bypass the line’ markers – one for each of the three tube-based rides in the park.  We’d heard about them last time we went (see Updated Review: Sesame Place), but hadn’t tried them then.  In theory, you just get a lifeguard’s attention at the bottom, they take the number off the bracelet, and then escort you to the top of the queue for an immediate ride.

My major concern was that folks would get upset and say things as we made our way up to the top, given that the cut-the-line bracelets don’t work in the water park and that it smacks of special treatment.  But, my wife was resolved that we were going to go on the one family ride together, and so we marched to the bottom of the ride.  It took a few moments to get a guard’s attention, but… they were as nice as could be about the matter.  Off came the number ‘1’ from his bracelet, and the guard escorted us immediately to the top of the line.

did get a comment from another parent when I took the Monster to another ride to do the same thing, though the parent was equally apologetic when I shot back an offer to trade (my child’s Autism for their ability to jump to the front of the line).  And I do think in that case, it was more a misunderstanding about why there was special treatment being given, since as mentioned, the cut-the-line bracelets don’t work on the water rides… and the fact that it was a very busy day at the park, given the heat and the weekend.

Given our experience, I’m going to be interested to see what Water Country USA does offer when we go down there in a few weeks… but it goes to show you that it pays to ask if there are accommodations when you go to a water park.

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