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Old 06-17-2012, 06:47 AM   #1
loadsapixiedust
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Unhappy new rules for wheelchair users at Universal Orlando?

Does anyone here have any recent experience with new rules for wheelchair users at the Universal Orlando parks? I am really saddened and confused by what happened to a friend who was visiting from the UK for the last few weeks.

I heard from her that wheelchair users are now being told that the only ride where they can remain in their wheelchairs is the carousel at IOA and no other rides unless they can prove they can sit independently (even if they do not intend to transfer from their wheelchair). They cannot use the wheelchair accessible rides with special cars unless they can prove this. How can CMs in a theme park possibly be qualified to properly assess a disabled person's sitting ability?

In another case I heard of a family were told at the gate that there was no point bringing their child with CP into the park as there would be no rides for her. This just does not seem right to me, how can this meet ADA legislation? Has there been some change to ADA that would cover this? I hope someone can clarify what is going on.

Our teenage son loves Universal because he could ride in his wheelchair alongside the rest of the family on rides like MIB and ET but it seems they have now put a stop to this so what is the point in having adapted ride vehicles for wheelchair users? He will not be happy to spend all day on the carousel!
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:07 AM   #2
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Do you know if your friend was using a manual or power chair? My recollection is that none of the Universal rides will accommodate a power chair or ECV at all.


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Old 06-17-2012, 09:17 AM   #3
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Both cases were with manual chairs I am 100% sure of that. These are people who have visited before and are aware of the rules as published in the riders guide, however these rules seem to have been changed recently but there is nothing published to warn of this and the riders guide still lists many attractions where disabled guests may remain in their wheelchairs but CMs in the parks are saying this is not the case any more.
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:28 PM   #4
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This is definitely a situation where I would e-mail them directly.

Though I am a bit confused what is meant by "sit independently," does this mean transfer from the wheelchair into a standard seat, or does it mean sit by themselves in the chair without a companion with them?
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:10 AM   #5
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I have emailed them and this was the reply

Quote:
Universal Orlando® written policies are not available via email or our website. Please visit Guest Services upon your arrival so that we may arrange to meet your individual requirements. I also recommend that you visit http://www.universalorlando.com/Imag...cm13-10940.pdf for our Rider’s Guide to Rider Safety and Guests with Disabilities.
since we are the other side of the Atlantic it isn't really practical to visit them at the park. They have refused to clarify anything in an email or on their website and as far as I can see the Riders Guide still lists attractions where wheelchair users can remain in their chair.

The 2 families concerned were told that independent sitting ability (without a wheelchair) was required in order to ride anything other than the carousel. They complained at the time and were refunded the cost of their tickets when they were told by a manager that the rules had changed. I just cannot see how this meets ADA and it certainly wasn't the policy in force when we last visited a year ago. I hope someone with local knowledge or recent experience can shed some light.
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:54 AM   #6
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It would be the responsibility of the park to meet the guest's individual requirements, and not vice versa, with no added cost to the guest.

Such "meeting" may include providing the manpower to reseat the guest taking into account every physical limitation the guest might have.

It is up to the guest and/or his family to determine whether the guest will derive any appreciation from the ride.

A small number of rides may as of today be grandfathered from the above requirement, and a small number of rides may be too aggressive for some guests regardless of how they are seate.
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Old 06-18-2012, 07:53 AM   #7
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I don't know for sure, but I have 3 possible guesses - only guesses at this point.

1) The rule about being able to sit independently was clarified for people who are planning on getting OUT of their wheelchairs and somehow got miscommunicated to mean ALL guests in wheelchairs, regardless of whether they were transferring or not.

2) They may have had some kind of incident with a person who stayed in their wheelchair and had something unfortunate happen. As a result, they my be examining all their similar ride cars and their policies. This did happen at WDW and DL where sometng happened on Toy Story Mania. They temporarily shut down the wheelchair accessible ride cars while they retrofitted them with tiedown systems for the wheelchair.

3) The rules/guidelines for accessible ride cars (along with a lot of other architechtural type things) changed in 2011, with requirements for update in March 2012.
It is possible that their old wheelchair accessible ride cars did not meet the new guidelines and they pulled them all to retrofit them, rather than building totally new ones. That would make wheelchair accessible ride cars unavailable until they are fixed and back online.

I took a solo trip to Islands of Adventures in March. I did notice there was very little at that park that was accessible and/or my DD could ride. Most of the attractions are very intense, and for example, even with an ADA transfer car on the Flight of the Hippogriff, she would probably not be able to ride it.
I did notice the signs for different attractions - took pictures, but lost my camera card with those on.
One of the things I remember is that almost EVERYTHING had some kind of warning. Even the Carroussel warned against motion sickness, dizziness and a bunch of other things.
So, it's also possible that they got a new insurance or liability company that changed the rules on warnings and who can ride what.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:00 AM   #8
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Your guesswork is much the same as mine My friend tells me today that they said the rules were changed in September which would possibly tie in with some sort of legislative change around that time.

My initial feeling was that either someone has been wrongly applying rules for guests transferring to standard ride seating to all guests using wheelchairs (there has always been a clause in the riders guide about sitting independently, maintaining an upright posture and grasping restraints for those using standard seating) or that there had been some sort of safety issue or accident with a wheelchair user and it was a knee jerk reaction to that.

What baffles me is that they refuse to be honest and clarify or publish these new rules so that anyone affected can make an informed decision whether to visit or not. It doesn't seem like good PR to cause disabled kids to have a meltdown at every ride and end up refunding their entrance nor does it seem right to stop guests at the gate and tell them it's not worth coming in if they are a wheelchair user but then maybe they cannot just openly admit they no longer cater for disabled guests.

I guess we will have to wait and see how this one plays out . . .
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loadsapixiedust View Post
Does anyone here have any recent experience with new rules for wheelchair users at the Universal Orlando parks? I am really saddened and confused by what happened to a friend who was visiting from the UK for the last few weeks.

I heard from her that wheelchair users are now being told that the only ride where they can remain in their wheelchairs is the carousel at IOA and no other rides unless they can prove they can sit independently (even if they do not intend to transfer from their wheelchair). They cannot use the wheelchair accessible rides with special cars unless they can prove this. How can CMs in a theme park possibly be qualified to properly assess a disabled person's sitting ability?

In another case I heard of a family were told at the gate that there was no point bringing their child with CP into the park as there would be no rides for her. This just does not seem right to me, how can this meet ADA legislation? Has there been some change to ADA that would cover this? I hope someone can clarify what is going on.

Our teenage son loves Universal because he could ride in his wheelchair alongside the rest of the family on rides like MIB and ET but it seems they have now put a stop to this so what is the point in having adapted ride vehicles for wheelchair users? He will not be happy to spend all day on the carousel!
I'm guessing that someone in a wheelchair, one who could not maintain a safe position in the wheelchair unattended, got injured on a Universal attraction. Since you are not allowed to get out of your seat in any attraction to assist someone else, guests would be required to be able to maintain a safety level independently.

For the part about the child with CP - since you posted "I heard of a family" I'm thinking the info has been a bit mutated from the actual encounter, sort of like the game 'telephone'. Perhaps they were told that the child would not be able to go on any rides because of the inability to self-support, but there would still be things to look at and shows to see, etc.
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Old 06-18-2012, 04:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmeck View Post
I'm guessing that someone in a wheelchair, one who could not maintain a safe position in the wheelchair unattended, got injured on a Universal attraction. Since you are not allowed to get out of your seat in any attraction to assist someone else, guests would be required to be able to maintain a safety level independently.

For the part about the child with CP - since you posted "I heard of a family" I'm thinking the info has been a bit mutated from the actual encounter, sort of like the game 'telephone'. Perhaps they were told that the child would not be able to go on any rides because of the inability to self-support, but there would still be things to look at and shows to see, etc.
My son has Cerebral palsy, he has a manual wheelchair which has been made with support seating. This is specially made, to support him in ways which he cannot support himself.
According to the 'new rules' even though he could go on the rides in his wheelchair,as he is physically unable to sit upright by himself he would not be allowed on.
At Universal, we used to do the jaws ride, MIB and The Simpsons-now he will not be allowed to do any.
At IOA we used to do Storm Force, Spiderman and both the water rides.
with assistance from us as carers.
Now he is no longer allowed to go on any rides, yet the discount is only 15%
compare that with Seaworld where their discount is 50%

The 'I heard from a family' comment was not mutated, it has since been repeated by a member of the family. They were advised not to bring their child into the park as there was no point.

just goes to show that the Disabled are not welcomed at Universal.

There are many rides which are similar to Disney ones, yet he is allowed to go on them at Disney.
My only worry is that if Universal can segregate the disabled like this, others will start to follow.
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Old 06-19-2012, 05:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darthtatty View Post
My son has Cerebral palsy, he has a manual wheelchair which has been made with support seating. This is specially made, to support him in ways which he cannot support himself.
According to the 'new rules' even though he could go on the rides in his wheelchair,as he is physically unable to sit upright by himself he would not be allowed on.
At Universal, we used to do the jaws ride, MIB and The Simpsons-now he will not be allowed to do any.
At IOA we used to do Storm Force, Spiderman and both the water rides.
with assistance from us as carers.
Now he is no longer allowed to go on any rides, yet the discount is only 15%
compare that with Seaworld where their discount is 50%

The 'I heard from a family' comment was not mutated, it has since been repeated by a member of the family. They were advised not to bring their child into the park as there was no point.

just goes to show that the Disabled are not welcomed at Universal.

There are many rides which are similar to Disney ones, yet he is allowed to go on them at Disney.
My only worry is that if Universal can segregate the disabled like this, others will start to follow.
Thank you for the clarification. If this is happening, it won't last long, as it is against the ADA, although offering the discount may muddle things a bit. Actually offering a discount without having to provide written proof is against ADA policy as well, so they may be breaking the law at both ends. One cannot make a 'judgement call' about who gets a discount or not.

When a park has attractions too unsafe for the disabled, they are going to have to make a clear policy statement, grade the rides by roughness, and issue some sort of ID tags to make sure no one is cheating the system (no one buys a cheaper ticket but still gets on certain rides, no one tries to sneak someone onto a ride that shouldn't ride it, etc).

Universal should be notified of this issue - clarification needs to be made, as you have stated that attractions once deemed safe are now all of a sudden not safe?
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmeck View Post
For the part about the child with CP - since you posted "I heard of a family" I'm thinking the info has been a bit mutated from the actual encounter, sort of like the game 'telephone'.
You may think whatever you wish but I can assure you this came from someone I know personally who was accompanying the family concerned at the time. I have no reason to believe it is not 100% accurate. I have reported it exactly as it was told to me and I certainly have not distorted any facts.

I am very concerned that a theme park may change policies at will and refuse to put them in writing or give guests the opportunity to find out about them before they spend thousands of $$$$ getting there. I would have expected people on this forum to be a little more concerned by this and I'm surprised it hasn't been reported here before if it has been happening since September or maybe it isn't happening to all disabled guests which would actually be more discriminatory

Just to clarify UK guests don't get the discount, it isn't offered on tickets sold here. Doubly insulting for us.
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:19 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by SueM in MN View Post
I took a solo trip to Islands of Adventures in March. I did notice there was very little at that park that was accessible and/or my DD could ride. Most of the attractions are very intense, and for example, even with an ADA transfer car on the Flight of the Hippogriff, she would probably not be able to ride it.
I did notice the signs for different attractions - took pictures, but lost my camera card with those on.
One of the things I remember is that almost EVERYTHING had some kind of warning. Even the Carroussel warned against motion sickness, dizziness and a bunch of other things.
So, it's also possible that they got a new insurance or liability company that changed the rules on warnings and who can ride what.
Most of the rides at IoA are "thrill" rides. They have signs warning guests who have back conditions, pregnant etc.

It may not be PC, might violate some laws, but I give credit to whatever employee honestly told the person there isn't much to do for a person with XXX medical condition. A person may be physically able to transfer from a wheelchair to a roller coaster but not be able to safely ride the coaster.

edited to add: Looks like some rides are now off limits to people with a specific condition. Might be an insurance issue.

There is a big difference between going on It's a Small World and going on Spiderman.

Pregnant guests, grandparents, guests with a back conditions.....pay full price and may not go on very many rides. They make a decision to see a few shows and go on one or two attractions. It's either worth the money to be with the family or it's not. It's nice Universal is offering any discount. AFAIK they never gave discounts to people who are unable, or unwilling, to go on most of the attractions.

50% discount at SW seems overly generous. There are more then enough shows and attractions suitable for any guest to occupy an entire day.

edited to add- I just read a PP. Looks like a person who can't support himself was previously allowed on some attractions but not now. I agree with PP, probably an insurance issue. Might be more disabled people visiting the parks. Resulted in someone taking the time to consider some criteria as to who can safely ride and who can't. Not sure why they can't have a wheelchair area where people could view the Simpson's movie without getting into a vehicle. Should be room to compromise on some rides.

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Old 06-19-2012, 11:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Most of the rides at IoA are "thrill" rides. They have signs warning guests who have back conditions, pregnant etc.
we're not talking about the 'thrill rides' just the smaller rides

It may not be PC, might violate some laws, but I give credit to whatever employee honestly told the person there isn't much to do for a person with XXX medical condition. A person may be physically able to transfer from a wheelchair to a roller coaster but not be able to safely ride the coaster.
its discrimination against the disabled.

edited to add: Looks like some rides are now off limits to people with a specific condition. Might be an insurance issue.

There is a big difference between going on It's a Small World and going on Spiderman.
Thats not a fair comparison. Im comparing similar rides.
eg Simpsons V Star Tours
MIB V Buzz


Pregnant guests, grandparents, guests with a back conditions.....pay full price and may not go on very many rides. They make a decision to see a few shows and go on one or two attractions. It's either worth the money to be with the family or it's not. It's nice Universal is offering any discount. AFAIK they never gave discounts to people who are unable, or unwilling, to go on most of the attractions.
The difference is they get a choice, the disabled have no choice.
50% discount at SW seems overly generous. There are more then enough shows and attractions suitable for any guest to occupy an entire day.
I agree that there is lots to Seaworld to occupy the day. However I dont think it is generous when he needs 1 to 1 care 24 hours a day.

edited to add- I just read a PP. Looks like a person who can't support himself was previously allowed on some attractions but not now. I agree with PP, probably an insurance issue. Might be more disabled people visiting the parks. Resulted in someone taking the time to consider some criteria as to who can safely ride and who can't. Not sure why they can't have a wheelchair area where people could view the Simpson's movie without getting into a vehicle. Should be room to compromise on some rides.
yes, there should be room to compromise.
Like the idea of an area on simpsons to allowed the film to be viewed.
I hope they do something to make the rules clear.
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmeck View Post
Thank you for the clarification. If this is happening, it won't last long, as it is against the ADA, although offering the discount may muddle things a bit. Actually offering a discount without having to provide written proof is against ADA policy as well, so they may be breaking the law at both ends. One cannot make a 'judgement call' about who gets a discount or not.

When a park has attractions too unsafe for the disabled, they are going to have to make a clear policy statement, grade the rides by roughness, and issue some sort of ID tags to make sure no one is cheating the system (no one buys a cheaper ticket but still gets on certain rides, no one tries to sneak someone onto a ride that shouldn't ride it, etc).

Universal should be notified of this issue - clarification needs to be made, as you have stated that attractions once deemed safe are now all of a sudden not safe?
Thanks for that
Theyve been contacted by the people who have experienced this issue.
However all they do is refer them to their website.
Doesnt sound like theve been helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loadsapixiedust View Post
or maybe it isn't happening to all disabled guests which would actually be more discriminatory

Just to clarify UK guests don't get the discount, it isn't offered on tickets sold here. Doubly insulting for us.
loadsapixiedust-the above response has some good info for your reply to ADA/Universal.

yeah Im surprised we havent heard of anyone else having an issue.

yes the 15% discount is only available on the gate, with a day ticket.
not helpful for us UK visitors.

Im sure the discount has been offered for many years-not sure how it goes with the ADA rules.
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