Sister hits Alton Towers employee after dragging a girl with cerebral palsy off the roller coaster

& # 39; Dear Alton Towers,

Yesterday (September 28, 2020) I spent my birthday in your theme park. Your website states that Alton Towers aims to "help guests with additional needs have a fabulous and memorable experience". It was certainly an "unforgettable" day for all the wrong reasons. I went with my friend Lucy and my sister Hannah. Hannah has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, but that's all. She is fully aware of her surroundings, understands everything you say and communicates non-verbally.

In this letter I will: (1) briefly explain what day we had and why we were so upset, followed by (2) our suggestions to you on how Alton Towers can do better so that we can make this world more inclusive. Please note that I have done my research, can see it from your side, and understand that health and safety are paramount. This is not a slanging match, but seeing how upset my sister was yesterday, I feel obliged to approach this topic in a positive and insightful way to ensure that other people do not have the same experiences.

& # 39; An explanation of the day we had and why we were so upset

“We have been to Alton Towers every year for many years and have NO problems. Hannah has ridden every ride she wanted before and has had the best experience. When we got to Alton Towers around 12pm yesterday, we went straight to customer service to get our handicapped access wristband and headed out for some fun! We were given a leaflet for our virtual queue, but at no point were we told what rides we could take or Hannah's disability was further questioned.

“We started the day and went to the smiler. When we saw Hannah in her wheelchair (pretty obvious Hannah cannot walk unassisted), we were shown to the disabled access point and then met by two other workers who showed us in the elevator. When we got to the top of the elevator, we were greeted by a wretched woman. I noticed a sign that said that the person had to walk 25 m unassisted in order to ride a roller coaster.

"When I noticed this, I told the woman that Hannah would not be able to do this and replied," Yes, she cannot ride. "The lady then turned to her co-worker and called on" SHE CANNOT LEAVE "and closed the door behind us. My problem with this situation is that Hannah is human – please speak to her directly. Do not be ashamed of her by you shout out their insecurities while driving so a lot of people can hear them. We passed three lots of workers and none of them thought of explaining the rules of the drive before we got there and had to turn around.

“We shrugged when we understood the importance of health and safety. We went to Rita. Hannah loves Rita, that will cheer her up. We came straight to Rita without waiting, which was a BONUS. The train in front of us was delayed because someone pulled their phone out, which meant the journey had to be restarted. This resulted in a 30 minute wait. During this time, no one questioned Hannah's level of disability, or whether she could switch or walk unassisted. Nothing. When the time came, two different workers watched me carry Hannah on the drive. We both sat down and were strapped down by the workers. Ready to go – how exciting!

“Until… a worker came up to me (not Hannah) and asked if Hannah could walk. They also asked if Hannah could get off the ride if it broke. I calmly explained that they had just seen me carry Hannah on this ride, so she obviously couldn't. At this point, we saw the crowd of people waiting and queuing for the next train. The girl said Hannah could not drive for health and safety reasons. I started crying because I was so angry. They had embarrassed us by making us publicly banned from driving. When I asked to speak to someone about it, I was consulted with the rudest, most disinterested employee. I've never experienced customer service so terrible.

“Hannah, heartbroken at the time, was furious and fed up with the ignorance of your staff. We made our way to the customer service center to turn the day. Alton Towers – Your lifesaver of the day was the gracious and empathetic man we met next who explained the health and safety aspects and the drives Hannah was able to continue. Why wasn't this done at the beginning of the day? The staff then gave us a refund and also managed to keep us all from crying. At that point we decided to draw a line, see what we could do, and start driving again.

"The teacups … it had to go smoothly, right? We enjoyed a nice little ride, Hannah started smiling. When we asked if we could go on again, we were told we had to take a two minute break between each trip so that we had to get off to get back on. Given that it took us more than three minutes to get the wheelchair and Hannah out, please explain to me without the queue (and I mean without the queue) how we couldn't stop for a second ride. This is a perfect example of how customization can be made for the needs of a person with a disability.

We then went to the duel, as the package insert specifically stated that this ride was handicap accessible, and spent five minutes looking for the handicapped access point. When we couldn't find it, we asked a member of staff. The answer was, "Oh yes, we used to have handicap access, but not now." At that point we could only laugh out of shock. Because of the ridiculousness of it all, we decided to leave. Why did the brochure say Duel was an accessible ride when there was no handicap access?

After spending £ 40 a ticket, driving an hour and a half, and wasting my birthday, we made two trips – the Runaway Train and the Teacups. If you know Hannah she's the biggest adrenaline junkie and these rides are known as the "Kid's Rides". She's not wrong. Wheelchair users want the same experience as everyone else.

& # 39; Our suggestions to Alton Towers on how we can become more inclusive

& # 39; Ok what's wrong with all of this? I would like to address two different topics:

"(1) Accessibility

Says Alton Towers, "We are committed to making all of our guests a pleasant and safe visit." And "We reserve the right to refuse admission to certain journeys if we believe that for any reason a person is at risk." I accept all of that, but we're in 2020 and other parks have been able to make real adjustments for wheelchair users.

“I went to Disney World, Universal Resorts, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and EVEN Alton Towers two years ago. How can this theme park claim to be inclusive for people with disabilities when an adult adult can only have fun on a teacup ride? As a family, we are also part of a charity that brings large groups of children with disabilities to Disney World every two years.

& # 39; Disney World claims on their website that for ALL trips, the person must be ambulatory or assisted by members of their group i.e. H. Any ride is accessible as long as there is another party supporting it. The same goes for Universal Studios and Blackpool. Why is this the case in the largest theme parks in the world, but not in one that is local to us? In addition, in Disney World, for example, there are 45 rides across 4 parks that are available to wheelchair users, 6 of which even have transfer devices.

“Please learn from the above, this is incredible. As a family we have helped Hannah achieve her dreams and set her no limits. We know that for health and safety reasons this is not always possible, but believe me, we will try. My advice to you, Alton Towers, is if you want to be as big and complete as other theme parks and have amazing experiences for all people, please take a look at what you as an organization can do to improve yourself. This includes major changes, e.g. Investing in transfer devices as well as minor adjustments (e.g. as mentioned above with the Teacup ride) to provide a better experience.

"(2) Attitude and awareness of employees

“The fact that most of your rides are not available for certain disabilities, the way we were treated and the lack of awareness and training with disabilities was the biggest problem here. It was a shame. Examples are not speaking to Hannah directly, going through numerous employees and gateways without them checking our ability to use the rides, rude shouting "SHE CANNOT GO" in front of everyone else, the lack of awareness of the limitations of the disability, the Not being able to make very small adjustments (i.e. with the teacups) and creating a very excruciating and embarrassing scene in front of a crowd at Rita and not immediately opening the safety gates to let us off the drive.

& # 39; This is the reason we're pushing this further. Alton Towers needs to invest in clearer guidelines for guests with disabilities, train employees on those guidelines, and then provide behavioral training for employees to prevent these issues from recurring. Please let Hannah and I offer to come in person and train your staff on how to speak to people with disabilities, raise awareness and develop a positive attitude about them. Not one person spoke to Hannah or apologized to her. She had to sit and listen as you argue with me about how her disability effectively ruined our day. Not our fault, yours.

& # 39; Greetings,

"Becky, Hannah and Lucy."

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