Katie Price has brought the issue of theme park accessibility for the less abled to a BBC Radio 4 programme in a discussion that included input from BALPPA chief executive Paul Kelly and Dawn Childs, group engineering director at Merlin.
The businesswoman and media personality Katie Price was guest editor for an hour long programme and used the platform to spur discussion as to what the industry has done to date, and what more it can do to give less abled visitors a high quality amusements experience.
Price, whose 16-year-old son Harvey suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome, remarked that her family is a firm exponent of theme parks and broad offering available, but raised concern that those in wheelchairs, or with other mobility issues may be missing out.
She said: “When you’ve got a child with a wheelchair or they don’t walk very well, they want to go on a ride as well. Now, for wheelchairs some people might say, you can lift him out of a wheelchair to put him on a ride, but then what if you got someone with oxygen tanks and all the medical stuff around them, you can’t just lift them out there.”
She further raised the question as to whether rides could yet feature safety mechanisms suitable for wheelchairs, something that Dawn Childs, group
engineering director at Merlin, remarked was becoming increasingly
prevalent throughout the UK’s largest attractions such as Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland.
Adding his voice to the conversation Paul Kelly, chief executive at BALPPA, commented that the drive for visitor inclusivity is a strong one in the sector: “It is a big cost, a lot of our member businesses, we have over 300 members, are long term businesses, family businesses, multi generational and have run for a very long time, so they will a lot of things to change, to get into place and some have been doing this for a very long time.”
He added that whilst the cost is high operators throughout the UK leisure industry continue to diligently improve their offering in this respect.
“We run a lot of seminars and workshop days and the most popular at the minute are ones about accessibility and understanding how to work in the disabled environment.” he said.