My favorite thing to do on a hot sunny day was to go to an amusment park. I’m pretty sure most everyone enjoys these types of parks because of all the variety of fun they bring. The food, live shows, games, and shops are all exciting to go to. However, the best part for me was the rides. Any type of ride I loved, yet I lost a big amount of love for these parks today. While I cannot go to these amusement parks anymore due to my disabilities, many other people with disabilities can go. Yet more and more of these people are being turned away and banned from going on these rides just because they are disabled.
One recent example of this type of discrimination happened in Kansas this April. Teenager Kathryn Embry went on a school field trip to a local Scheels All Sports with her friends and classmates. Kathyrn has Down Syndrome, which is a disability that can seen physically by other people. While she was trying to board the Ferris Wheel with her friends, the operator stopped her from getting on, because of her disabilities. Kathyrn’s parent’s contacted the store manager who said that their policy stated that everyone must understand the rules before getting on the ride.
However, it seemed that since you could “see” Kathyrn’s disability, no one bothered to ask her or to explain the rules to her. She eventually went on the Ferris Wheel, but with an adult chaperone. This is a case of outright discrimination based on physical experiences. The family stated, “We’re about educating — not just the community at large, but business — about how even if it’s unintentional, it’s still illegal and it’s still wrong because it perpetuates stereotypes and it hurts a population, especially who are hitting this young adult stage” (Chan, Justin).
Another case of this type of discrimination occurring was in 2015 with the Sonny Trewin. He is four years old and has spinal muscular atrophy. Grace Palmer, the mom, phoned the park before they all visited to make sure that it would be accessible for her son, Sonny. It was confirmed that there would be 21 rides that he would be able to go on. The family had gone to Chessington World Of Adventures in Europe, where they were met with the inability to go on 2 rides. The park has a 3-step policy, where one must be able to walk at least three steps in order to go on the ride. However, Grace Palmer did note that other, abled children were being carried on rides without any fuss. This “rule” was not stated anywhere in the park’s brochures, website, or terms and conditions.
Six Flags is one more theme park that has been discriminating against people with disabilities. In May of 2018, a United States Veteran, Johnny Jones, was refused access to going on the rides at Six Flags due to their policy. Jones has two prosthetic legs because of bomb explosions from his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. In response he tweeted, “’SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and Disney will literally move mountains for you. Six Flags will tell you ‘nah bro, you gotta have two real legs'” (U.S Veteran). Because of Six Flags’ policy, he is not even to ride the tilt-a-whirl.
Having disabilities is difficult. Whether you are born with it or received it for some reason, disabilities are limiting. It’s hard to process that theme parks are further cutting down the activities that disabled individuals can do. I want to raise awareness to the discrimination that is going on, with seemingly no reason behind it but judgments. Imagine if you were denied the ability to go on rides because of something you couldn’t control? Yeah, that would suck.
Thanks for reading this important article today! Have you or someone you know been personally discriminated against at a theme park? How do you think we can stop this issue? Please subscribe and I’ll see you next time my Un-imaginables!
Chan, Justin. “Teen with Down Syndrome Said Store Wouldn’t Let Her Ride Ferris Wheel Because of Her ‘Disabilities’.” AOL.com, AOL, 19 Apr. 2019, http://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/04/19/kansas-teenager-with-down-syndrome-said-store-wouldnt-let-her-ride-ferris-wheel-because-of-her-disabilities/23714172/?guccounter=1.
Imms, Adrian. “’No Compassion’ for Disabled Boy Not Allowed on Rides at Theme Park Because of His Condition.” The Argus, The Argus, 15 Apr. 2015, http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/12890397.no-compassion-for-disabled-boy-not-allowed-on-rides-at-theme-park-because-of-his-condition/.
“U.S. Veteran Denied Access to Amusement Park Ride Due to Prosthetics.” StandUnited NewsStand, 7 June 2018, news.standunited.org/veteran-denied-access-amusement-park-ride-prosthetics/.
Original Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash