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Flamingo Land to revise disabled access guide after Newton Aycliffe man with Down’s syndrome was prevented from riding a roller coaster alone

ByKeith M. Jones

Sep 4, 2015

A theme park will consider whether its online accessibility guide should be more visible after a man with Down’s Syndrome has been prevented from riding alone.

Gareth Bowen-Jones had been eagerly awaiting his visit to Flamingo Land, near Malton, North Yorkshire, for weeks when he visited his mother, Evelyn, last week.

But sadly, confusion over the park’s disability policy kept him from taking a ride for more than four hours.

As Ms Bowen-Jones doesn’t like theme park rides, Gareth, 30, of Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, had planned to ride alone.

However, it is Flamingo Land policy that those with a direct access bracelet – a pass that allows people with disabilities to skip the line – must be accompanied by a caregiver in the event of an evacuation.

The information is included in the ‘plan your visit’ section of Flamingo Land’s website, as well as in the frequently asked questions, but Ms Bowen-Jones – who wore the purple caregiver bracelet – thinks it’s not obvious to know where to look. for that.

She said she was unaware of the restrictions when she requested the bracelets and accused the lure of applying “general policy.”

She said her son was more than able to ride on his own, and in a complaint to Flamingo Land: “He was discriminated against, treated like a child, ignored by your staff and his day was ruined. I am totally disgusted.

After being turned away several times, Mr Bowen-Jones removed his bracelet, only to receive the same response when he reached the first row of the queue.

He said: “I am a 30 year old male and I was treated like a 14 year old boy.”

Eventually, just an hour before his coach left, Mr. Bowen-Jones received quick coupons and was allowed to ride alone, which further confused the family.

In an email to Ms Bowen-Jones, Ross Snipp, deputy director of Flamingo Land, said the company would consider whether the accessibility guide could be made clearer and easier to find.

He said the fact that the accessibility bands are for those who can’t stand in line would be highlighted, as well as the purpose of the caregiver band, and said he would ensure the policy is enforced. coherently.

He added, “If any of our staff has spoken to you directly and has not addressed Gareth, then I apologize wholeheartedly. This is not normal from our staff and we have never had comments like this before. ”


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