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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Friday, June 14, 2013 7:07 PM
bjames's avatar

Parents angry about the policy change? Don't visit Kings Island.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013 12:04 AM

Gonch - you and other have valid points. But, if a child cannot tolerate lines and crowds, do we just not take them anywhere and make them live sheltered lives? IMO - it boils down to them being able to go out and enjoy the great things in life (like coasters and amusement parks) but do in in different manner.

It's a priceless experience taking Bryce on these coasters and seeing his face light up with excitement, knowing that if it wasn't for the special access, we would be robbed of this experience. These kids did not ask to be given any disability, and deserve to do these things on a limited basis.


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

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Saturday, June 15, 2013 2:31 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I just want to reiterate how broad Autism spectrum disorder (as it's now called) is. I teach high school math in a school for students with learning disabilities and I had an Algebra 2 student who I literally did not know had Asperger's until the end of the school year. He was marginally socially awkward, but would have had no trouble waiting in line, getting on a ride, evacuating in the event of an e-stop, etc. etc. I also see students who I can immediately tell have more severe autism. They can't maintain eye contact, can't sit still, and can't understand basic rules of social behavior like when it's appropriate to talk.

I'm not sure how a park could fairly differentiate between the two (or legally) and taking the middle of the road is going to exclude some kids on the severe extreme and allow others on the mild extreme to take advantage.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013 9:16 AM

Fun said:

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.

I'm all for any kid being able to experience things based on their abilities, but I have to agree with this. If the ride e-stops or something else and the kid starts freaking out uncontrollably, wouldn't that pose a safety hazard for the other riders, whether or not there's an evacuation? There ARE parents, sadly, who don't think of this, only that "My child should ride this, and therefore they will."

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013 10:42 AM
Carrie J.'s avatar

There are people without an illness that might freak out uncontrollably if a ride e-stops or something else. Just saying.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:55 PM
sws's avatar

ApolloAndy said:

I had an Algebra 2 student who I literally did not know had Asperger's until the end of the school year. He was marginally socially awkward, but would have had no trouble waiting in line, getting on a ride, evacuating in the event of an e-stop, etc. etc.

Hell, that's better than your average ACE member.

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Friday, June 21, 2013 12:14 AM

Carrie - I was thinking the same thing. There are regular guests that freak out if they stop for 5 seconds on the lift. In many cases, I think a disabled person would handle it better.


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

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Friday, June 21, 2013 2:42 AM
LostKause's avatar

Everyone with autism has differing levels. A really good friend of mine is socially awkward in the opposite way as most. He is too friendly and trusts anyone he meets, which is something he needs to work on. He has no trouble at all standing in line and would have not problem climbing down a lift hill. He is in college and on the Dean's List. I am very proud of him, because his doctors said that he would never even graduate High School because of his disability. I don't see it as a disability, but a gift.

On the other end, I also know a kid who frequents my workplace with autism who has a very hard time talking to me, even though he has told me that he likes me and wants to talk to me. I tell him all the time that I understand, that it's okay and I will still be his buddy. I don't think he could wait in line long and I am not sure that he could traverse stairs in the event of a coaster evacuation.


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Friday, June 21, 2013 3:15 PM

Something that is not mentioned is the inconsistency across the parks. I was told by an enthusiast friend who travels with two or three autistic children pretty frequently that she had to have one of her party wait in line for the entire duration and then her other party members could join her. It was just her and two autistic kids. How is this a reasonable request from the park for someone in this situation?

I don't see an issue with doing a time stamp, but the parks have to all enforce the same policies, and they also need to work on the policies to make them less...for lack of a better word, just plain stupid.


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

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