How to Incorporate Accessibility into Theme Parks
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This paper presents exploratory research on the topic of inclusive opportunities in theme parks for people with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to explore design and operating dissonance that exists between entertainment industry businesses, specifically theme parks, and those guests that are disabled and discuss how that dissonance manifests in the form of unequal access. A qualitative research methodology was employed in this study which provided many insights into guest experiences at four theme parks located throughout the United States. Individual interviews and observations were utilized to collect this data. The findings indicate that most guests are willing to travel substantial distances in order to experience accessible fun. However, they were often unaware of the accessible offerings provided by these theme parks. In many instances, those offerings were either found to be inadequate or park staff was merely unaware of their existence. Many procedural issues related to the interactions of park staff with disabled guests were also noted and might well be construed as discriminatory. Moreover, when it comes to theme parks, while incorporating full inclusion into the workings of theme parks may simply or not be feasible or even possible, the goal of park design and management should be the maximizing of accessibility for all, including those guests presenting disabilities. This paper also provides recommendations for consideration by theme park administrators to improve the quality of the park experience for disabled guests.