Cedar Fair ride boarding policy angers parents of children with autism

Posted Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:18 AM | Contributed by Iceman3

Parents are taking to Facebook and online support groups to express frustration with what they say is a policy change at Kings Island that doesn’t accommodate the special needs of autistic children. In recent years, the park permitted riders with disabilities to enter a ride area with a companion through an alternate entrance and ride after just a brief wait, parents say. That changed this summer when the park began requiring disabled riders to request a boarding time – equal to a ride’s anticipated wait time for all guests in line – and return at the designated time.

Read more from The Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:29 AM

Wait. What's the acutal 'problem' here? They don't have to stay in the line, they get to ride, how is this an issue?

Ohhhhh...they don't get immediate access anymore. Right. How much is Fastlane again? :)

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:31 AM

I'm pretty sensitive to stuff like this, especially after my own kid went to school in a birth-to-3 developmental intervention program with kids who had disabilities. But my understanding is that too much accommodation will not help these kids in the long run. Personally, my strategy with this would be to not tell my kid we're going to ride until it's actually time. This does sound a little more like a complaint for the relative inconvenience for the parents more than a disservice to the kids.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:38 AM

I'm definitely in the camp of accomodating people with disabilities, and even when many people have stopped believing in developmental disabilities such as autism, I understand that keeping a kid in line that doesn't understand it can be stressful to the kid, the parents, and those around. I'm all for the no waiting in line.

But I'm definitely all for them being assigned a time to come back too.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:39 AM

Friends of mine go to parks with their autistic child all the time. I believe they told me the policy Cedar Fair uses, works for them. Obviously there are different degrees to which each child has to deal with. But, if you can't come up with a way to occupy your child while not having to wait in line, I'm not sure how you do anything anywhere.

*This opinion is from someone who has never had a special needs child and was not meant to insult or offend anyone. It's just my opinion as an outside observer.*

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:40 AM
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Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:48 AM

Like most things, I imagine the hardship exists in the change and adjustment. For example, if a parent with an autistic child had a tradition set of getting to the park and riding X first thing every visit, then I would imagine the first few times they visit the park and can't ride X immediately, it might cause some of the reaction described in the article.

I have no idea how long it takes an autistic child to adapt to a new tradition or norm.

I'm not saying that's cause to keep the policy unchanged. Just that I could see the potential challenge the change might cause these families.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:37 AM

Sheesh, I've been doing it all wrong. I've been making my kid learn to wait in line (my 4 year old is Autistic) and we get the routine right after about 2 or 3 visits to the park. I had no idea such a service existed.

Since he eventually learns to wait in line, should I use this? I'm in the camp of teaching him to act as normal as he can, which I understand there are some stresses involved with him when learning a new routine. But it's easy for him to learn because he loves Cedar Point.

~Rob

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:45 AM

Right now, the opinion-ator at the bottom of the article is reading 48-0 in favor of the current policy (establish ride times first, and come back to skip the lines then).

I think a parent could make a game of this with their autsitic child.. tell them the first go around is to "scout out the rides and decide the order to tackle them" or similar... go make the ride times appts, then go back and hit 'em all at the right times so that the kid doesn't have to wait. Distract the kid with food or games to fill the slots between scheduled ride times if needed, or catch some quick flats.

Basically, this question amounts to: Does being autistic cause someone to deserve a free Fastlane pass? My answer, mean as it may be, is no. I think the current policy is a fair arrangement. Parents can always buy a pair of Fastlanes if they don't want to deal with the scheduling system.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:45 AM

An "autism diagnosis" contains such a wide array of individual situations, it's hard for me to comprehend a single policy working in all cases...but I hope they figure something out that seems "best fit" for the vast majority.

Hopefully soon we'll have a better understanding of autism, and better treatments. I've seen and heard of some truly remarkable results, and the future does look pretty promising.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:08 PM

What rollergator just said.

In fact, technically speaking, "Asperger's Syndrome" no longer officially exists, as it's simply been rolled up into an extremely broad (way too broad in my opinion) lump-em-all-in diagnosis.

and even when many people have stopped believing in developmental disabilities such as autism,

I can honestly say I've never heard of anyone who doesn't "believe" in autism anymore; could you expand a little bit on that thought? I'm assuming you're alluding to what is now considered autism today versus the 1980's or even a large part of the 1990's, which is more or less a completely life-crippling disorder.

My first reaction to this was that there has probably been some abuse to the system. How does one prove to the ride operator that the child has autism? (I'm not kidding here). Do you go to park services and get a card? The truth is, there are millions of kids diagnosed today who would not even register on anyone's radar as being autistic. Socially awkward and shy, perhaps, but not autistic.

Last edited by OhioStater, Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:12 PM
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Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:18 PM

As a parent of a young child, diagnosing autism and other syndromes and conditions (like OCD and ADHD) is annoyingly frustrating. A lot of the basic criteria seem to me to apply to every kid ever born. My kid has developmental delays, but they're not labeled as disabilities. At the end of the day, I just want to know WTF I'm dealing with so I can help the kid.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:33 PM

I am all for helping people with disabilities. But when the story broke of rich moms hiring handicaped children to help them get on rides than I am all for making them sign up for a time to come back that is equal to the amount of time they would have spent in line. I would think that there is something they could ride on to keep them occupied while they wait for their assigned time.

It's a shame that there are sick people out there that have to ruin things for the honest people.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:20 PM

John Carle said:

I am all for helping people with disabilities. But when the story broke of rich moms hiring handicaped children to help them get on rides than I am all for making them sign up for a time to come back that is equal to the amount of time they would have spent in line. I would think that there is something they could ride on to keep them occupied while they wait for their assigned time.

It's a shame that there are sick people out there that have to ruin things for the honest people.

I'm all for this! Not only have I read of one-percenters hiring handicapped people to avoid long waits for attractions I myself have seen people rent wheelchairs, then place one of their kids in that wheelchair to feign a disability so they can receive priority treatment. I hate being the Devil's Advocate, but "Affirmative Action" Programs such as this must come to a Grinding, Screeching HALT!

Last edited by Regulus, Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:21 PM
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Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:33 PM

Unnecessary rants aside, you don't need to quote a post that immediately precedes yours.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:39 PM

Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse Me! Next time I won't quote a post unless there is at least five posts above my post is on a new page than the one I'm quoting.

Last edited by Regulus, Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:40 PM
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Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:25 PM

Hey, don't get mad at Jason. It's the act of a few abusers who ruin the ability of others to post freely. We have to take a stand somewhere!! ;-)

Last edited by Carrie J., Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:29 PM
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Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:39 PM

It's a good "courtesy" rule, I think, and a simple one to follow. Also, I always check to see if the "click to view newer posts" button has popped up before I hit send. That enables me to add the much argued but handy ^^ if someone has jumped ahead of me while I was typing.

Incidentally, I have no kids autistic or otherwise, but I find this topic extremely interesting and food for thought.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:39 PM

I think the Cedar Fair policy is fair for anyone with physical or developmental disabilities. I hope they are not pressured into changing it. If they want to go to the head of the line they can buy a Fastlane pass.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:45 PM

I haven't read the article yet. As I am on break and have limited time. I did cruise the posts.

I have a 16 yr old step-son with Autism. It is really nice that many parks recognize their needs. Bryce l;oves coasters. He cannot talk and still refuses to be potty trained. So, parks can be a real adventure for him. He does ok waiting a few minutes. But after that he will get cranky if he is not moving. It can get to the point he will fuss and start screaming and make it miserable for anyone around him.

At Cedar Point and Six Flags parks so, the pocily allows Autistic child with party immediate access once per ride per day. If we would want to ride a 2nd time that same day, we would get the time stamp. I feel that is a very fair policy. We had not tried Kings Island yet, so was not aware of how they did theirs. I am ok with wait times at smaller parks as you could get him on several rides throughout the day (Holiday World has time stamp instead of immediate access). At a bigger park, where all the lines are 2+hrs, we would spend more time dragging him around park to kill time until time slot is ready. There's only so many things you can do with an Autistic child.

I understand from a park prespective, you don't want people abusing it. But they have to understand what a family with an Autistic child has to endure throughout the day at an amusement park.

The first time we took Bryce to CP, we did the coasters in the back of park in morning before there were lines. It was after lunch before we went to aprk-op to get the special access form. Getting him to wait too long, he will try to pull away and run. So far, he has been to CP, HW, SFGAm, SFStL, SFOT and have had no issues.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 6:30 PM

Regulus said:
I'm all for this! Not only have I read of one-percenters hiring handicapped people to avoid long waits for attractions I myself have seen people rent wheelchairs, then place one of their kids in that wheelchair to feign a disability so they can receive priority treatment. I hate being the Devil's Advocate, but "Affirmative Action" Programs such as this must come to a Grinding, Screeching HALT!

The problem is, you can't legally ask people WHAT their disability is (rightly so -- that's personal information). There's a special place in hell for people who cheat the system by faking disabilities and the like, doubly so for people who drag their children into the fraud.

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