Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Amusement park abolishes "special" access for disabled children

From the Fort Mill Times June 25:

SHAKOPEE, Minn. — A new policy at Valleyfair says that guests with disabilities have to wait in long lines for rides just like everybody else.

While some parents of disabled children are dismayed at the policy, saying it is just another hurdle in their children's lives, some advocates for the disabled say they've always wanted to be treated equally.

The amusement park used to have special access entrances that allowed a disabled guest and three others to bypass the long lines.

Valleyfair's parent company, Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment, said some people were abusing the previous policy.

"We want to be as fair as possible for our disabled patrons, and make their day as memorable as it is for everyone else," spokeswoman Stacy Frole said. "But we also wanted to keep a policy that others don't take advantage of."

Valleyfair's Web site says the new policy, enacted in time for this season, is an effort "to be fair to all guests."

Joan Willshire, executive director of the Minnesota State Council on Disability, said the new policy seems to be legal, and her office has not received any complaints about it.

"They didn't have to allow people to go to the front of the line, so to speak," she said. "At the end of the day, what we all want to strive for is being treated like everybody else. So we will all have to gain patience."