SeaWorld’s Orlando Aquatica water park has become the first water park to be awarded the certified autism center (sic) status.
Aquatica staff have received specialised training, to ensure they can provide an excellent park experience to all children. And employees must retrain every two years to retain the certification.
“As the first water park in the world to complete the training and become a Certified Autism Center, Aquatica Orlando is proud to provide fun and memorable experiences through exceptional service,” David Heaton, vice president of Aquatica Orlando was quoted as saying.
“We continually strive to create safe and meaningful experiences for all of our guests, and we are committed in our efforts to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”
The park also offers a quiet room, equipped with adjustable lighting and comfortable seating for guests to take a break, and can be locked for privacy. There is a low sensory area behind Loggerhead Lane.
Online, the park has a sensory guide, giving guests a rundown of the sensory experience that can be expected. The guide features a list of all rides and attractions, with a sensory score out of 10, so that visitors can adequately prepare for their visit.
Rides such as Loggerhead Lane, Taumata Racer, and Roa’s Rapids score on the low end of the scale, whereas attractions including Dolphin Plunge, Walkabout Waters and Ray Rush score much higher.
Aquatica already had several accessibility features in place including: wheelchair rental, accessible toilets, welcoming service dogs and and providing service animal relief areas.
“IBCCES is proud to work with Aquatica Orlando and other leaders in the industry to increase the availability of certified options and help individuals have a safe and enriching experience when traveling or visiting a new place.
“With the rise in diagnosis rates of cognitive disorders, there is a huge need for these options and for organizations to make a long-lasting commitment to their guests,” IBCCES board chairman Myron Pincomb was quoted as saying.
Back in April, Aquatica’s sister park, Sesame Place in Pennsylvania, became the first theme park to receive the certified autism center status.
The new accreditation is a step in the right direction towards inclusivity and accessibility, and it is hoped that with such a big brand as SeaWorld making such changes, other parks and holiday destinations will follow in their footsteps.