Is Kings Island's new-ish handicapped policy chain-wide?

Friday, August 21, 2009 2:32 AM

About a month ago, my mom and I took an evening trip to Kings Island. However, she suffers from chronic pain from several sources including arthritis and back problems, and we bring a wheelchair with us.
However, when we went to get a disability guide from guest relations, we were denied because she was physically able to get up from her scooter and walk to the counter. This is, of course ignoring the fact that she cannot even walk to the back of the park, let alone stand up in line for 20 minutes without being in severe pain. The woman at the counter said "Well ma'am, you're standing right here in front of me so you obviously don't need a handicapped pass!"
I guess they are trying to crack down on people who get the pass to abuse it and skip lines, but we are not there for that, and we don't like the special treatment some parks give, either. Heck, the only rides with typical long lines that are gentle enough for her to ride are Delirium, Drop Tower, and Diamondback. We thought, that perhaps this lady was just out of line(no pun intended), so since we live very close, we just went home and decided to call and ask later.
When we called, they confirmed that this really is their policy. Especially since she appears healthy on the outside, we've got no chance. I am fuzzy on whether or not they would accept a note from a doctor but I believe it was a no. We talked to a few different representatives on the phone, two of which sympathized with us, and even noted people they knew that had been effected by it. The fact that KI changed this in the middle of the season, considering the price of season passes, felt low to us. (we know in reality this doesn't count for anything, but she has been a loyal customer since 1972, and was featured on the news talking about the big announcement of Diamondback last year.)
So, I'm sorry about the huge wall of text, but I haven't seen a thread anywhere that describes this change, and it almost makes me feel like it never happened. They offered to send us a letter explaining things in greater detail, which we gladly accepted. The letter basically told us that it was done in an effort to conform to Cedar Fair policies, which finally leads me to my question:

Has anybody else experienced this, and moreso, have they experienced this at any other Cedar Fair parks this year? Last year, we visited Cedar Point, waited through our shift of time at long lines, and had a wonderful vacation. Their website hasn't changed the policy at all, and of course Kings Island's is totally devoid of information, so this has led to our confusion.
Thanks in advance for reading trough this and maybe answering. For all I know(but doubt), they could have changed it back, so long as we weren't the only people who cared.

Friday, August 21, 2009 6:28 AM

Well, last season, Cedar Point changed their policy to only allowing a group of 2 using special access. An additional members would have to wait through the line and meet up on platform. I understand the change and do not have problem with it. I have never used special access before this year.

In July, I took my wife and her 2 kids to CP and needed to have special access for her son, who has Autism. Knowing the policy, we planned on splitting up. But, when we were in park operations, they explained they do it differently for Autism. They allow a group of up to 4 to have instant access. No waiting time, good for 1 use per ride per day. If you want to ride more than once, then you would do the stamped time wait. It is good to see the park recognizes the Autistic disability! Bryce is very impatient and hated waiting just couple of trains to get on. With all the negative things being said about CP decisions in recent years (me being one), I applaud them for the way they treat Autism!! There was a good crowd when we went. But, was still able to enjoy ourselves. We got the kids on 14 coasters that day. We rode several in morning with no waits before getting the secial access. I feel there is no reason to use it if there is little to no wait.

Again, THANK YOU! to Cedar Point for taking into consideration the special needs for children with Autism!

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

Friday, August 21, 2009 8:01 AM

TayTay said:
I guess they are trying to crack down on people who get the pass to abuse it and skip lines, but we are not there for that, and we don't like the special treatment some parks give, either.

I can understand the parks wanting to cut down on abuse (which happens a LOT -- don't even get me started on the number of times we've seen someone pull into a handicapped parking space and leave their elderly grandmother waiting in the car while they jog into the store... Oh, and the idiots who think the zebra stripes between spaces are good motorcycle parking are always good too.)

HOWEVER, there are many conditions (such as muscular dystrophy) which can leave a person looking fine at a glance but unable to wait in a line. Who makes the judgement call? I would think that at the very least a doctor's note should be considered acceptable.

"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."

Friday, August 21, 2009 8:29 AM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

I would imagine that you would need a doctor's note in order to get the handicap pass. It sounds like you did all the right things (calling the park, etc.). It stinks that the parks have to battle with abuse of the handicap pass system, but it is what it is, some think they are more entitled than others in avoiding waiting in lines, walking longer distances, etc.


Friday, August 21, 2009 12:02 PM
Jeff's avatar

I understand the need for policy, but isn't there a point where common sense kicks in? "Oh, you got out of your chair, you're good," hardly seems like common sense.

Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - - My Blog - Twitter - Video

Friday, August 21, 2009 12:46 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Given the elusive nature of physical challenges/handicaps, this would be an area where I would think you would want very little subjective judgment to take place. It's not fair to the employees and it's not fair to the guests.

Seems to me to be a no-brainer that some kind of medical documentation should be necessary to get the pass.

Still, Tay Tay, it's regrettable that your mom was spoken to that way. Hopefully all of your follow up will result in a positive outcome for the future.

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

Friday, August 21, 2009 5:18 PM

This (fortunately) something I have not had to deal with. But I thought that CP's policy on special access was the whole process of getting the ride admission list, getting wait times for each ride, and going through the whole documented procedure.

The nature of that procedure is such that it really shouldn't matter what the nature of your disability is. At any time you have a choice: either go to the ride, get your return time, and ride *once*, or wait in line with everybody else. I thought they very thoughtfully designed the system to be just cumbersome and limiting enough that the only people who would deal with it would be the people who really needed to use it. Yeah, it's kind of awful, but really, anything they do for disabled customers should be an opt-in process, not an opt-in and be evaluated process. It says right on their signs, "You know your physical conditions and limitations, $PARKNAME does not." Well, if that is the case, then some random employee working the customer service counter has no business deciding whether or not a particular customer should or should not be able to get special access.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Friday, August 21, 2009 5:35 PM

I can't stand it when people take advantage of the handicapped system when we used to suspect it we used to give them the disabled wait passes instead of just letting them on. My biggest problem is when the disabled people don't meet the rider requirements for the ride, and think that the pass is an exemption.

Last edited by TSC 2007, Friday, August 21, 2009 5:36 PM
Saturday, August 22, 2009 4:17 AM

Thanks for your responses.
I think it sounds like we'll try bringing in a doctor's note and see what happens from there. They didn't tell us that's what we should do, but I don't remember if they said it would be acceptable or not, and it's worth a shot, and the worst case is we get to witness them make the judgement call over a physician. ;)

Saturday, August 22, 2009 9:21 AM

Wow. At WDW, the policy regarding disabled guests was that if their only need is to use a wheelchair or ECV, here's the park special guidebook and follow the instructions. At Disney Hollywood Studios and DAK and newer attractions, about all the attractions are main streamed... meaning the lines are wheelchair and ECV accessible. At Magic Kingdom and Epcot, you go through the exit at older rides.

We weren't even allowed to look at doctor's note and gave the guests accomodations based on their needs... not their diagnosis. If there are other needs than having an accessible entrance, there are guest assistance cards with various stamps that do the job.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 1:18 PM
LostKause's avatar

I find it disturbing that CF would let their seasonal employees determine if someone is disabled enough to need assistance or not. They should simply take the word of the so-called "guest" on what their limitations are. Medical situations are personal, especially when it causes disability.

I was trained about disabled guests by Cedar Fair once for each of the three seasons that I worked there. They emphasised that a person who is using a wheelchair may be able to walk. I was trained to always ask how they wanted to board the ride. In Paddlewheel's circumstance, I would ask if they wanted, or were able, to get on the ride without their wheelchair, or if they wanted us to get the ramp out so that they could roll the chair onto the ride.

We knew that just because they were in a wheelchair, it didn't mean that they were not able to walk. Sometimes you could tell that the person in the chair wasn't able to get out, but we would still ask to make sure. Every situation was different, and we asked what the guests wanted to do.

I believe that this is a training problem. The people you are talking to about the situation, TayTay, may be confused about the policy. Either that or the chain has decided to look at their disabled guests differently. Something doesn't sound right to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 3:03 PM

I agree with some prior comments. The need for proper documentation is huge. Period. As for the wheelchair bound mother, yes, she can't walk the park. Its a big park, that is understood.

Chronic back pains? Anyone in this industry would agree a hyper coaster is not your them. 2 or 3 loose wheels and a dozen folks are at the Chiropractor the next day. Say Diamondback needed a walk down from the lift hill?

And the Giant Huss rides? Now what do you do? Always plan for the worst sometimes. Those signs are up for a reason.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 5:41 PM

I agree, if the do accept the documentation, it will be a better policy for everybody involved.
And I can also see the hyper coaster as a legitimate concern. I'm curious as to if you've ever ridden Diamondback though? It is definitely the smoothest, most gentle coaster I've ever ridden, despite its size. Hyper coaster is a vague term, since Diamondback has nothing in common with Magnum other than its height. Perhaps in the coming years, Diamondback will start to show age and then we would obviously not ride it. Also, walking down would not be an issue at all, standing up in line for 40 minutes would.
Not sure I follow you on the Huss though? If anything serious were to occur, people would be hurt, sore back or not.
In any case, that is separate from the entire issue. Those signs mean "Make your own judgment call based on your own limitations, ________ is not responsible for you, ride at your own risk." The difference of the issues is whether or not a person should ride vs. whether or not they have the opportunity to make that call on their own.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 6:38 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

RideMan said:
It says right on their signs, "You know your physical conditions and limitations, $PARKNAME does not."

Why did I take so much pleasure in Dave's use of a script variable in his post? :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009 10:48 PM

This is an issue which I've not had to deal with. My wife has a neurological disability that prevents her from walking or standing for more than very brief periods of time, so she would be in the same boat as Tay Tay's mom. But since she simply doesn't have the stamina to attend parks for more than a couple hours -- and she's never been that 'into' them anyway -- it's never been a problem.

I have to say, I like how this thread is being conducted -- civilly, and with respect. :)

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Sunday, August 23, 2009 2:33 PM

This really grabs my attention as either really bad training (or lack thereof), or a very gross misunderstanding of the policy on the part of the employees. In two summers at Cedar Point, whenever we would mention the problems with the special access policy obviously being abused, we were told that the Park Operations office has to give out the pass/policy no questions asked, because it would be a violation of the ADA to question or "pry" for further information on the disability. I find it very hard to believe that they would risk the wrath of the ADA on this.

Original BlueStreak64

Sunday, August 23, 2009 3:58 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

Ensign Smith said:

I have to say, I like how this thread is being conducted -- civilly, and with respect. :)

You sound surprised ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009 8:52 PM

Perish the thought! I never expect anything but complete courtesy and decorum here.... ;)

My author website:

Monday, August 24, 2009 5:33 AM

Very similar thing happened to my brother...but at a concert. We knew we were going to sit in the handicapped section, so we bought the cheapest tickets we could. When we got to the section the security guard would not give us a pass to sit there because my brother looked "okay" to walk up the stairs. My brother took his prosthetic leg off right there and told the guy "give me the pass or this goes up your ass," I nearly died right there. There was a slew of admin offering us free tickets and backstage passes.

This policy is in violation of ADA rights. That letter is basically a signed sealed and delivered lawsuit. It is discriminating against the severity of the handicap but by that person publicly denying you the handicap pass they are defemating your character. If there is anyone around to see (person you're with) they might assume that you are trying to cheat the system, thus, in their mind your character has been defemated. Also you bought the season pass assuming that the policies had been set for the season, and since they changed that is a clear cut "bait and switch." I suggest you contact a Civil Rights lawyer.

Last edited by woohooboy, Monday, August 24, 2009 5:41 AM
Mind you, even a tiny difference, such as that between 0 and 0.000126, can make a world of difference.
Monday, August 24, 2009 7:35 AM
phoenixphan :-)'s avatar

Yes, sue the park... thats the answer. I have never felt defamated at a Cedar Fair park (Dorney), just sometimes defacated. Oh...wait...

But, as far as an actual legal action, defamation of characted does not really apply in the instance. In order to sue for being defamed one must show that their reputation was harmed by libel or slander. Being denied access due to a physical handicap is not damaging to ones reputation. This, however, could be a policy that is in violation of the ADA. I think its important that you do check with your mothers physician, and they would have more knowledge, but if she suffers from any back pain issues, I would also advise against riding aggressive thrill rides.

Real men ride wood... coasters that is!

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