“The LEGO Film” anthem “The whole lot Is AWESOME!!!” hasn’t all the time rung true for everybody, however LEGOLAND Resorts revealed new efforts Thursday to assist guarantee “superior is for everybody,” together with autistic visitors.
By the tip of subsequent month, all three U.S. LEGOLAND Resorts will formally be Licensed Autism Facilities, becoming a member of a rising variety of theme parks working to enhance accessibility for visitors who’re neurodiverse or have sensory points.
No less than one in 44 kids is autistic in accordance with the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Community.
“One in all our core values is round belonging,” Scott M. O’Neil, CEO of LEGOLAND’s guardian firm Merlin Entertainments, advised USA TODAY. “What, to me, is most enjoyable is creating an area for kids on the spectrum to know that they’ll include their households and mates and have a enjoyable and secure and enriching expertise and hopefully create recollections that final a lifetime.”
This is how they hope to do this.
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What visitors can count on
LEGOLAND Florida, neighboring Peppa Pig Theme Park and LEGOLAND California are already Licensed Autism Facilities. LEGOLAND New York might be one when it reopens for the season on March 31.
Each attraction at every resort has been rated for its stage of stimulation on every of the 5 senses: listening to, sight, scent, contact and style. Friends can discover sensory guides with these rankings on-line, printed within the parks and posted outdoors sights.
“That permits the mother and father to actually take into consideration their distinctive youngster. Each youngster who (is autistic) is a bit bit totally different, and totally different triggers might change a whole trip,” mentioned Kelly Hornick, head of promoting & communications for LEGOLAND Florida Resort. “We type of take the guesswork out.”
All resorts supply low sensory areas the place visitors can relaxation and reset. LEGOLAND Florida and New York have designated quiet rooms. LEGOLAND California can even flip off all sound results on its latest experience, Ferrari Construct & Race, from 1 to 2 p.m. for visitors involved about overstimulation. There are additionally earplugs obtainable upon request at First Assist to assist cut back noise.
Assisted Entry Passes can be found in any respect three resorts for visitors who cannot stand in line for lengthy durations of time resulting from bodily or cognitive disabilities or different medical circumstances.
Friends may also count on park staff to be skilled in interacting with autistic visitors.
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What’s a Licensed Autism Middle?
To qualify for certification, at the very least 80% of workers should by skilled and authorized by the Worldwide Board of Credentialing and Persevering with Training Requirements (IBCCES), which is guided by each autistic self-advocates and different specialists.
“That is actually simply to assist them do their jobs higher as a result of what we usually discover is a whole lot of people wish to be useful, they wish to be pleasant, however they’re not sure of what to do and they also hesitate to have interaction,” IBCCES President Meredith Tekin beforehand defined” What we wish to do is simply break down these obstacles … to assist the guests have enjoyable.”
O’Neill mentioned there’s nothing like seeing the awe and pleasure on youngsters’ faces within the parks, “For us to increase that belonging out to all kids in America is what offers us goal and happiness.”
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Accessibility at different theme parks
Sesame Place Philadelphia was the primary theme park ever to grow to be a Licensed Autism Middle in 2018. Sesame Place San Diego opened as one final yr.
“For us to have the coaching … to actually type of concentrate on the best way to finest assist households, relying on what stage of want there’s for every of these people, it has been nice to see all of our staff embrace that,” Sesame Place San Diego President Jim Lake advised USA TODAY. The park gives sensory guides, low sensory parade viewing areas, quiet rooms and noise-reducing headphones, amongst its lodging.
This summer season, the Southern California park will open The Depend’s Splash Fort, a multi-level water play space. (LEGOLAND New York can be opening a brand new water playground this summer season.)
“We’re actually enthusiastic about this one as a result of it is obtained a big quantity of recent floor stage areas, so it is actually accessible to everybody,” Lake mentioned, noting there are 111 totally different interactive options. “There are three water slides. There is a bunch of valves, levers, bridges, hydro blasters, a bunch of interactive type of props that may present an actual tactile expertise for people who need (it).”
Households nervous about overstimulation can lease cabanas close by or retreat to 2 quiet rooms additional away within the park. The attraction’s sensory information may also assist set expectations earlier than visitors even arrive.
“You may make a choice on whether or not, A, it is a the fitting attraction for you, after which B, the way you wish to truly expertise the attraction,” Lake mentioned.
Different theme parks which have earned IBCCES certification embody Discovery Cove in Orlando, Knoebels Amusement Resort in Pennsylvania, Nickelodeon Universe in Minnesota’s Mall of America and Six Flags parks, which in 2020 introduced changing into the primary household of theme parks to have each park licensed.
Different locations like Walt Disney World and Common Orlando Resort have their very own accessibility applications in place.