I can’t say enough great things about Hershey’s Park’s autism policy. I called ahead to ask about how it worked so we were prepared when we got there. Hershey Park has a questionnaire for guests with disabilities to feel out ahead of time. All of the questions pertain to ability to whether a rider can get on and off by themselves and can they hold on during the ride. General safety issues.
Here’s the form: http://www.hersheypark.com/general_info/accessibility.php
After we arrived, we went right to to Hospitality Services, just inside the front gate. It was busy when we arrived and the line was long, but I realized quickly that there was a separate ADA line. (The longer line was for purchasing SpeedPass.) We gave the attendant Rory’s form and they measured Rory to see how tall she was which determined what rides she could go on. Rory was a Hershey.
Rory got a special yellow bracelet to wear at the park. They gave me a boarding pass with Rory’s name on it that listed all the rides that a Hershey could ride. For these attractions, we simply had to go to the ride’s exit and show the attendant our boarding pass, and all five of us could get on the ride.
It was slightly different for roller coasters. There are four seats left open in the middle of every coaster for guests with this pass. So, for these rides only four of us could go on. I happily served as photographer while the rest of the gang enjoyed the ride.
The people in Hospitality Services were awesome, as were the attendants at every ride. It was VERY Disney-like. We all had a really fantastic time.
There was only one small blip in our otherwise perfect day and it had nothing to do with Hershey Park. Rory had a few rough moments. First was around lunchtime, when she was famished, and again right at the end of the day when she was flat out exhausted. A lot of people stared. I mean A LOT. Not just glancing. Full on stares. I wasn’t going to say anything, but Grace brought it up on the way home and mentioned how uncomfortable it made her. Kids stared, and the parents didn’t say anything like “Sweetie, it’s impolite to stare” because the parents were staring too. Granted, maybe some people hadn’t seen a meltdown on the scale that Rory had at the end of the day. But on the other hand, is it that unusual to see even a typical kid completely frazzled after a long day at a theme park? On both occasions, a Hershey Park attendant gently asked what was wrong and was there anything they could do to help. Totally awesome. This happened at the beach a few weeks ago too. Lots of stares. And seeing the stares today in Hershey and at Rehoboth made me realize we almost never get stares here in the DC area. Maybe our autism awareness efforts are working around here!