Add These 10 Parks To Your Summer Vacation Calendar
July is a popular month for fun in the sun, refreshingly sweet treats and of course, amusements parks! Few things can top spending the day in your favorite amusement park with family, friends and good food. However, for parents of children with special needs, this fun-filled adventure can become a bit more complicated.
Worries set in for parents of children with disabilities surrounding how much of the park will be wheelchair accessible, if there are special needs ride passes available and how to ultimately provide their children with an experience comparable to that of any other child.
Fortunately, there are countless theme parks across the U.S. that have gone above and beyond for those attendees who may require a bit more assistance to make the most of their day.
We’ve rounded up the top 10 amusements parks in the world that go above and beyond for kids with special needs, check it out:
1. Disney World — Orlando, Florida
While already a popular summer destination for families, Disney World offers an array of services for guests with special needs. This guarantees that you can still book that long-awaited Disney trip without having to worry about any lack of accommodations.
These services include:
- Advanced Ticket Purchase
- Stroller and Wheelchair Rental
- Strollers to be used as Wheelchairs
- Rider Switch
- Assistance in accessing attractions
- Break Areas
- Companion Restrooms
- Attraction Guides
- Dietary Accommodations
2. Morgan’s Wonderland — San Antonio, Texas
This unique theme park is special for a few reasons. The most important reason for parents of children with special needs is that Morgan’s Wonderland is the first and only theme park in the world where all rides are fully accessible and sensory-friendly. This means that parents won’t even have to inquire about accessibility concerns beforehand, as the entire park is based on the idea of inclusivity and fun.
Morgan’s Wonderland is a non-profit organization that offers free admission to patrons with disabilities.
3. Legoland — Carlsbad, CA
Legoland offers an exciting experience for the whole family. Enjoy rides, attractions, entertainment and dining without having to worry about accessibility.
Most attractions at Legoland are accessible to disabled guests, and detailed health restrictions are posted at each ride. The park also has special vision and hearing accommodations available for guests with issues surrounding sight and sound. And, if you are able to plan ahead, contact Legoland about 2 weeks ahead of your visit to receive specialized care and attention. You can download an Access Guide from their website, which outlines all areas of the park that are wheelchair-friendly.
4. Holiday World — Santa Claus, Indiana
Located right in the middle of a cornfield in Indiana, Holiday World is an attraction that is certainly worth the trip. Repeatedly named the cleanest and most friendly theme park in the world, this park is sure to provide your family with a trip full of memories.
You may want to plan your trip around Holiday World’s annual “Fun Day”, which is when the park opens its doors to 2,500 very special guests — all of which have some form of mental or physical disability. All discounted admission proceeds are then donated to organizations that advocate on behalf of children with special needs. You can download Holiday World’s “Rides Guide & Information for Guests with Disabilities” packet online before your visit to start planning out your day in the park.
5. MarineLand — Niagara Falls, Ontario
MarineLand is known for their attractions and exciting shows featuring dolphins, orcas and beluga whales. What’s also great about this park is that MarineLand offers discounted admission for individuals with disabilities, as well as a ride wristband for one rider and caregiver to skip the line.
Additionally, guests with special needs are able to park in an area that is closest to the entrance to help those who may require wheelchairs or assistive devices. Upon entry, you can rent wheelchairs and enjoy accessible-friendly areas for shows, rides and restaurants.
6. Sesame Place — Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Just 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, Sesame Place is a popular spot for children of all ages and disabilities. Upon entering the park, families with children with special needs can sign up for the Ride Accessibility Program, which matches the individual abilities of guests to the requirements of each ride. Riders will then be able to choose 6 dry attractions and 3 tower water attractions they would like to bypass the line.
For guests with vision or hearing impairments, Sesame Places offers an array of accommodations to ensure that they enjoy their day no matter their disability.
7. Knoebels — Elysburg, Pennsylvania
Similar to Sesame Place, Knoebels is also located just a few hours outside of Philadelphia. This park features rides, attractions, games, gift shops and food stands that are all accessible for guests with special needs.
Entrance to Knoebels is free. Guests are able to purchase individual tickets for the rides they would like to enjoy. Those guests with disabilities can receive a “Courtesy Pass” from the First Aid station, which allows the individual and up to 3 family members or friends to bypass the lines and enter the rides through the exit gate. Wheelchairs and Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) are also available to rent at the park if needed.
8. Darien Lake Theme Park Resort — Darien Center, New York
Located just between Buffalo and Rochester, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is a popular choice for roller coasters, attractions, and they even have a 10-acre water park! For families with children who have special needs, this park offers many helpful accommodations to ensure that all are able to enjoy their day.
Darien Lake features accessible parking conveniently located close to the park’s entrance, as well as Priority Access Entrances to its most popular rides. Guests with disabilities are able to bring up to 5 family members or friends with them to the front of the line, where they will be assigned a riding time. Simply return at your designated time and enjoy the ride.
9. SeaWorld — San Diego, California
SeaWorld is guaranteed to be a fun-filled adventure for the whole family. For guests with special needs, this park offers extensive options for their rides, attractions, restaurants and more.
SeaWorld San Diego provides Special Access Passes for guests with disabilities. By signing up for this pass before your visit, you will be given a pre-scheduled boarding time for each ride. Also, if you fill out the Ride Accessibility Questionnaire before your visit, you will receive a list of rides and attractions personalized to your interests and needs. For guests with vision or hearing impairments, SeaWorld also offers sign language interpreters for their marine-life shows and tours as long as you contact the park up to 2 weeks in advance.
10. Six Flags — various locations throughout North America
There are 18 Six Flags located across North America and all are known to be a hotspot for crazy fun roller coasters and live entertainment.
At all Six Flags locations, guests with special needs can receive an “Attraction Access Pass”. This pass allows riders who are unable to wait in lines for extended periods of time to sign up for a riding time and enter through the Exit line with 3 companions. The only requirement to obtain this pass is a note from your doctor that indicates the guest has a disability or other qualifying impairment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or applicable state law that prevents the guest from waiting in a standard queue.
Making The Most of Your Next Amusement Park Visit
With so many parks at your disposal that cater to the needs of children with disabilities, parents can rest assured that the whole family will have an amazing day enjoying the summer weather.
If you are planning to visit any of the parks listed above (or the many others that offer similar options!), be sure to check out the section of their website devoted to accommodations for guests with disabilities. You will be able to receive further information on how to best plan your trip, and most even offer a printable guide that will help you map out your day in the park.