It’s tough to say exactly how many wheelchair users there are in the United States. Some statistics claim there are nearly 3 million regular users of wheelchairs in the country, while a recent report published by the Disability Statistics Center of the University of California suggests the number is closer to 1.7 million. But no matter how you slice it, one thing’s for sure: That’s a whole lot of people.
If you spend the majority of your day—or your entire day—in a wheelchair, you know full well just how frustrating it can be to get from point A to point B. According to the aforementioned University of California report, for instance, “four-fifths of wheelchair users report that their local public transportation system is difficult to use or to get to.” And “two-thirds of mobility device users have limitations in one or more of the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).” So the fact that most leisure activities aren’t designed to be easy for people with disabilities shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to any of us.
However, there is a good news for wheelchair-bound leisure seekers, both here in the United States and abroad. As accessibility issues are becoming more and more mainstream—and in some circles, more expected—theme parks, amusement parks, and other vacation spots that have traditionally been off-limits to those in wheelchairs are beginning to change their ways.
If you’re looking for a bit of traditional theme park fun but aren’t able to leave your chair, the following guide is a good place to start searching for opportunities.
Morgan’s Wonderland | San Antonio, Tex.
Alas, there is but one amusement park in the entirely of the country that is 100 percent wheelchair-accessible. It’s the 25-acre Morgan’s Wonderland, where attractions include wheelchair swings, an olde-tyme carousel, an off-road adventure ride, a train ride, and more.
Knoebels Amusement Resort
Known as “America’s Largest Free Admission Amusement Park,” Knoebels Amusement Resort is a vacation choice that’s located fairly close to home. You’ll find it in the small town of Elysburg, Pennsylvania, just a few hours from Philadelphia.
The park, of course, isn’t really free; if you want to ride, you’ll need to purchase ride tickets, just as it was done at fairs and carnivals in the old days. And not unlike the situation at the country’s many Six Flags parks, disabled guests of Knoebels Amusement Resort—along with up to three companions—can pick up a courtesy pass that allows them to skip rides lines by entering through each ride’s exit gate. The passes can be picked up at the park’s first aid station. According to the Knoebels website, the first aid station is located at the end of the main park office building across from The Flyer. It’s staffed from 9:00 a.m. until approximately one hour after the park closes. Wheelchairs can also be rented at the park for a fee.
Six Flags Great Adventure
Each of the Six Flags amusement parks located in North America offer what are known as Rider Access or Equal Access Passes to differently-abled guests. Snag one of these passes at the Six Flags park in, say, Jackson, N.J., and you’ll be able to skip the tedious process of waiting in line. What’s more, up to three friends or family members traveling with you will be able to do the same.
Sesame Place | Langhorne, Pa.
Another attraction located relatively close to home is this Sesame Street-themed park located in the outskirts of Philadelphia.
While not an entirely accessible park by any means, Sesame Place does produce an annual Accessibility Guide that “provides an overview of services and facilities available for guests with disabilities.” Some disabled guests, for instance, can take advantage of the park’s “Special Access” program to avoid to waiting in ride lines.
Disneyland and Disney World
Southern California’s Disneyland and Florida’s Disney World are known as two of the happiest places on earth for a reason. Naturally, they’re both well known for catering to guests with disabilities. Like most of the parks mentioned in the guide, they offer Disability Access Service Cards that allow guests to skip the long waits for rides. And like Sesame Place, they also produce a number of very useful accessibility guides for guests with any number of different disabilities. For more information, visit the Disneyland Access website, and the “Services for Guests with Mobility Disabilities” page on the official Disneyland website.
- To learn about some of the country’s more exciting vacation destinations that have been made accessible to persons with disabilities, take a look at “32 Vacation Destinations for Individuals with Special Needs,” a fantastic blog post on the website of Friendship Circle.
- Even better is the highly recommended Curb Free with Cory Lee, an accessibility-themed travel blog in which the eponymous Cory Lee “hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.”
Of course, while it’s fun to get out and have fun at these amusement parks, having used stair lifts Philadelphia can add to your quality of life at home. Contact us today to learn more about installing a handicap stairlift in your home in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware to resolve your elevation challenges.