The United Kingdom is home to some of the World’s best theme parks and every year millions of thrill-seekers allow themselves to be hurtled around tracks, tipped upside down and dropped from a great height in search of adrenaline-inducing fun.
Brain injury survivors should exercise extra caution before getting on a rollercoaster or ride. Fast speeds, high g-force and jerky movements may be dangerous for some brain injury survivors and could lead to further injury, as well as exacerbate symptoms such as dizziness. If you have a brain injury it is very important to seek medical advice before getting on a rollercoaster or ride. You should also consult ride-specific safety advice and ask members of staff if you are unsure about the nature of a particular ride. If there are any safety doubts then you should avoid the thrill rides, but most theme parks offer a range of other attractions to ensure you can still enjoy a fun day out.
Brain injury survivors may need to make other considerations before attending a theme park or attraction. For example, many theme parks cover vast areas of land and you may need to walk long distances between rides. Therefore, if you experience reduced mobility or fatigue following your brain injury you may want to consider using a wheelchair or walking aid, even if you normally manage without. Many theme parks offer wheelchair hire facilities.
Most theme parks offer a separate queuing system for disabled guests who find standing in a queue for prolonged periods a challenge, whether due to physical disability or the hidden effects of a brain injury. This may mean you can skip the queue by entering a ride via a separate entrance, or book onto a ride using a virtual queuing system.
Each attraction will operate a different system with regards to queuing for rides, however it normally involves applying for some sort of ‘Access Pass’ either before you go or at the customer service office. Proof of eligibility, such as a benefit award letter, is often required.
Consider using the Headway Brain Injury Identity Card to explain your difficulties to theme park staff.
Below we examine accessibility at some of the UK’s biggest theme parks and attractions:
The biggest theme park in the UK, Alton Towers plays host to some of the most iconic rides in Europe.
Brain injury survivors may be entitled to one free carer ticket and a second carer at half price. Proof of disability is needed when purchasing tickets, they will accept the following documentation:
Guests who cannot stand for long periods of time, either because of physical disability or learning/emotional impairment, are offered a Ride Access Pass, which comprises of a red wristband.
Alton Towers offers accessible toilets, including a new Changing Places toilet, and wheelchair hire.
For more information about accessibility, including ride-specific information, download the Alton Towers Access Guide 2019.
Drayton Manor does not offer free carer tickets, however carers are entitled to the same concession as the disabled guest.
Drayton Manor offers an Easy Access Band to guests who have a disability which would make accessing the rides through the standard entrance difficult. Up to three people can accompany the wearer of the Easy Access Band onto the ride, one of which must be a registered carer.
Accessible toilets are available throughout the park and there is also a new Changing Places toilet.
For more information, including ride-specific information, please download the Drayton Manor Access Guide 2019.
Chessington World of Adventures is a theme park and zoo 12 miles from central London.
Brain injury survivors may be entitled to one free carer ticket and a second at a reduced rate. They should present one of the following documentation:
Brain injury survivors may be able to get a Ride Access Pass. These are categorised by different colour wristbands depending on individual need and up to three companions can accompany the guest onto rides. Apply for one online before your visit to save time on the day.
Chessington World of Adventures has disabled access toilets and a Changing Places toilet.
For more information, including ride-specific information, please download the Chessington World of Adventures Disability Guide.
Wales’ biggest theme park claims to have ‘thrills for all’.
Brain injury survivors may be entitled to one free carer ticket upon proof of eligibility.
At Oakwood Theme Park brain injury survivors may be able to get a Ride Access Pass. The website highlights that the pass is not just for those with physical disability and includes visitors who:
Proof of eligibility is required and can include a letter from a GP confirming that you or your loved one will have difficulty queuing for a prolonged period of time.
Disabled access toilets (including a Changing Places toilet) and wheelchair hire are available.
Thorpe Park Resort is home to the UK’s fastest rollercoaster – Stealth!
Brain injury survivors may be able to get one free carers ticket with proof of eligibility and a Ride Access Pass.
The Ride Access Pass allows access to rides via a virtual queuing system for the disabled visitor and up to three helpers.
Thorpe Park has disabled access toilets and a new Changing Places facility.
Find out more about accessibility, including ride-specific information, by downloading the Thorpe Park Resort Accessibility Guide.
A trip to Blackpool isn’t complete without a visit to Blackpool Pleasure Beach!
Unfortunately, the attraction does not offer discounted rates for guests with disabilities or their carers.
However, brain injury survivors may be able to get an Entry-via-Exit (EvE) wristband. This enables them and one guest to enter a ride via the ‘Speedy Pass’ gate.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach has accessible toilets (but no Changing Places toilet) and wheelchair hire.
Find out more about accessibility by downloading the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Access Guide.
Scotland’s biggest theme park welcomes visitors with disabilities and endeavours to make each visit fun, safe and enjoyable.
Information on accessibility is quite limited but download the M&D Leisure Accessibility & Disability Policy or call 01698 333 777 to find out more information prior to your visit.
LEGOLAND’s Total Sensory Space recently became the first of its kind at a theme park resort. The space is designed for visitors with specific sensory needs and is full of interactive sensory experiences designed to create a calming environment.
If waterparks are more your thing then Sandcastle Waterpark is the UK’s largest indoor waterpark with over 18 slides and attractions.
Sandcastle Waterpark goes to great lengths to ensure the attraction is accessible for all, including:
Find out more information about all the services on offer by visiting Sandcastle Waterpark’s website.
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