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 6:45 PM
Fun's avatar

If a rider literally cannot wait in a line and follow those rules of participation, what business do they have on a ride that could stop hundreds of feet in the air and require them to walk down stairs during an evacuation? Waiting in line seems like a good test of their ability to participate safely under unusual conditions.

Last edited by Fun, Thursday, June 13, 2013 6:45 PM
Thursday, June 13, 2013 7:33 PM

GregLeg said:

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.

I agree! I posted on another thread about something I saw at the Vancouver World's Fair in 1986 where, during the last show of the day at their Omnimax Theatre, I saw two boys switch places on the wheelchair their parents had rented somewhere. If it weren't for the fact it was the end of the day (About 9:30 PM PDT) I would have had a HISSEY FIT and reported these little Shysters to the Authorities. :(

May I add that the Americans With Disabilities Act REQUIRES all rides to be handicapped accessable, anf if the ride has stairs that aren't wheelchair accessable, then a Lift or Elevator must be provided.

Last edited by Regulus, Thursday, June 13, 2013 7:41 PM
Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!
Thursday, June 13, 2013 7:58 PM

The way the article reads, it sounds like this was the actual policy to begin and parks did not follow it, making the immediate boarding a perk. And they want to make it consistant across the entire chain. Will be interseting how this developes. I will contact the park before I plan on taking Bryce there. If they eliminate the instant boarding, we will not be taking him.

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

Thursday, June 13, 2013 8:33 PM

As much as I feel sorry for those who are disabled, I also feel sorry for the Parks, as they often find themselves in a "D*mned if you do, D*mned if you don't" situation. Look at all the threads posted about parks denying someone on a ride because of some kind of disability, citing an example of someone with the same disability getting killed on a ride because the ride's restraint system didnt work because of the riders disability. (Two examples were the riders who got thrown off coasters at Darien Lake and Six Flags New England). Next thing you know the parks ends up getting sued for discrimination.

Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!
Friday, June 14, 2013 2:26 AM
LostKause's avatar

Disabled people do not want anyone to feel sorry for them, fyi. They want you to be proud of them for their accomplishments.

Friday, June 14, 2013 3:18 AM
sws's avatar

Is that why they repeatedly tell people they have a 4.0 GPA??

Friday, June 14, 2013 5:22 AM


I actually didn't mean to vote that up, though. Oh well...

The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist


Friday, June 14, 2013 9:08 AM


Please bear with me on this next part, as I just woke up. Travis, you mentioned that most disabled people don't want you to feel sorry for them but basically be appreciative of their accomplishments. I get that, and I am a firm believer in equal human rights as much as possible (for obvious physical/developmental disability, I still think some rides are unsafe and totally agree with strict blanket rider policies at amusement parks). That being said, BECAUSE I don't think disabled people should be treated differently and because they don't usually want to be treated differently, they should be able to wait in line like everyone else or nearly the same like everyone else. Sure a time stamp to come back is fine. I don't have a problem with it. However, why should a disabled person get what amounts to a free FastLane pass? What kind of message does this send? Not just to the general public, but disabled patrons as well?

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Friday, June 14, 2013 9:43 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

A few times my wife had knee problems when we visited Cedar Point. She could hobble around and walk gingerly on her own, but there was no way she could trek several miles over the course of a full day at the park. So we rented a wheelchair. It was a little embarrassing to wheel her up to a ride and have her stand up and walk to the seat on her own (with no cast or brace) in front of everyone who had waited. I could easily understand how people would see that and think that we were milking the system, and I basically made it a point to not make eye-contact with anyone. I knew that we weren’t being deceitful and that my wife would much rather have been able to walk through the park side-by-side with me like normal, but the onlookers didn’t know that.

In a sense, the park’s time stamp policy helped remove some of the guilt. I knew that we weren’t gaining an advantage because we had to wait for the coasters just like everyone else. I embraced the policy for that reason.

Friday, June 14, 2013 10:00 AM
James Whitmore's avatar

Just a little factoid from my personal experience a few days ago at Cedar Point when some riders boarded Blue Streak from the exit side. The ops made a point to announce more than once that these riders had waited just as long as everyone else. I have no idea what policy/program the rides were using, but obviously not Fast Lane, as it merges on the entrance side of the platform. But the ops were working the PR angle.


Friday, June 14, 2013 10:11 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

That's interesting. I bet that's in conjunction with Fastlane, because they made no such announcement when my wife and I boarded from the exit in years past.

Friday, June 14, 2013 10:41 AM
Pete's avatar

I can see the point behind both sides of this story and both the park and the parents make valid points. Tough call to make as to who is right. What I found disturbing though is that autism increased 78% compared to a decade ago according to the article. Why is that? Environment? Diet? Bad gene pool? It seems like something bad is going on for so many more kids to be autistic.

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

Friday, June 14, 2013 11:09 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

It's probably more accurate to say that diagnoses of autism increased 78%, and that's a big difference.

Friday, June 14, 2013 12:01 PM

Exactly. What actually appears to be on the increase is serious allergies, but autism's been around. This discussion has made me think back to my grade school days where classmates with challenges were more than likely autistic but no one knew. This would be early 60's and we just classified them as "weird". There were no special programs, all students were in the same class, and the teacher was ill-equipped but did the best she could.

My heart goes out to those here (and everywhere) that face the daily challenges along with their autistic child. I'd like to say I don't know how you do it, but I think I do. Bless you all.

Friday, June 14, 2013 3:48 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Bakeman31092 said:

It's probably more accurate to say that diagnoses of autism increased 78%, and that's a big difference.


RCMAC said:

This discussion has made me think back to my grade school days where classmates with challenges were more than likely autistic but no one knew. This would be early 60's and we just classified them as "weird".

While there's no doubt we're helping some kids who were being missed before, I think the sudden increase in diagnosis also means we're indulging some kids that perhaps we shouldn't be.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, June 14, 2013 5:51 PM
Friday, June 14, 2013 5:14 PM
OhioStater's avatar

In the past 5 years, I've actually been asked by at least half a dozen parents to switch their child's diagnosis of a learning disability to a diagnosis of autism. Why? They can get mandated support from the schools with that diagnosis that they can't get with others. This is not an uncommon situation doctors and therapists find themselves in. Frankly, I've never done it, so they move on until they find someone who will.

It goes way beyond awareness, it's more like a hyper-vigilance, and Gonch hit the nail on the head. We're casting a net that's way too wide, but, it's a "better safe than sorry" idea that has swept the whole field. Like I mentioned above, if you were ever diagnosed with Asperger's, guess what? "POOF", that has magically become autism in 2013.

One thing we know for sure is that early intervention is absolutely key, so part of this wave is so that kids that can benefit from early intervention can get it.

I'm just relieved no one on here has said the word vaccine yet. I still meet parents who have more faith in Jenny McCarthy than medical science.

Last edited by OhioStater, Friday, June 14, 2013 6:02 PM
Friday, June 14, 2013 5:41 PM

Normal circumstances, I wouldn't have a problem with the time-stamp. But, with some Autism (like my step-son), walking around for 2 hrs waiting for his ride is a bad thing. He starts to get fussy if all he doing is walking. He is more content if he is riding. I have seen him when he gets that way. He will keep pulling away and can take off running if you let go. He sometimes will just sit on ground screaming.

Like I mentioned before, I feel the policy in effeect at CP was fair. Once per day per ride. That cuts down on anyone wanting to abuse it. If we want to take him on a ride a second time, we get the time-stamp.

Many people do not realize what it is like to deal with this disability. RCMAC - I appreciate your comment. It can be a real challenge sometimes. It is nice to be able to get him around the park on many rides and then go take a break and chill. He gets cranky walking around and needs break half way through day.

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

Friday, June 14, 2013 5:56 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Here's an honest question not meant to attack, but rather create discussion:

At what point does the world have to bend to accomodate a disability and at what point does one have to understand their disability prohibits them from doing certain things?

With all due respect to those affected, my gut feeling is that if you can't wait to get on a ride then perhaps you shouldn't be at the amusement park.

(and yes, I realize the irony given it's me saying it and my stance on Fast Pass and such - but it's a serious question)

Friday, June 14, 2013 6:08 PM
OhioStater's avatar

As a parent of a young child, diagnosing autism and other syndromes and conditions (like OCD and ADHD) is annoyingly frustrating

What struck me was someone's comment about a ride e-stopping and everyone being forced to do a walk-down. If someone's autism is so severe that they honestly could not stand to be in a line for more than a few minutes, what on earth would you do in that situation? You could very easily be putting your child's life (and the life of others) in serious danger.

I've never though twice about someone with a disability going ahead of me on a ride, or being put on a train in "my row". In fact, I typically make a point to smile and make a kind gesture, as I'm sure they get faced with their fair share of dirty looks throughout the day.

That said, where I would personally think the line needs to be drawn, Gonch, is safety. The amputee that flew out of Superman/Bizarro, for example, or the situation described above.

Last edited by OhioStater, Friday, June 14, 2013 6:12 PM
Friday, June 14, 2013 6:22 PM

Gonch, I'll take you on on the points you raised then add a few thoughts of my own (as someone who has a genetic inability that has worsened with age)...

The world shouldn't have to bend to accommodate because not everyone in the world is on an even keel with regards to their abilities and it would be impossible to even attempt it. I've got crappy knees so I know that riding Mantis or Riddler's Revenge or Shockwave is not a good idea for me because I am limited by my bone stuff.

I still intend to visit parks and ride coasters as much as I can and will do til it becomes impossible and have had some brilliant times with peeps from here and elsewhere at my spiritual home (Blackpool). Much as I'd have loved to have ridden everything with them, I knew that there's a level of risk that I won't go beyond, based on past (non-park) experiences.

I know the sentiments expressed here are genuine and I hope this isn't taken as an insult but I neither want anyone to feel sorry for me nor feel proud - it's a tough one but I'd rather be viewed as an asshole with wonky knees than an asshole who jumps the line :)

I never and have never, demanded priority treatment and I'd be more than happy to wait alongside everyone else but without the risk of someone inadvertently causing me a dislocation from bumping into me. So yes, I'm happy to wait in line so long as said line and patrons are not going to innocently send me to hospital unintentionally.

Feel free to come back at me and pick holes in my statement - I'm happy to engage :)



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