Theme parks' hidden elevators for visitors with wheelchairs
Written by Daniel Etcheberry
This month I am going to write two articles instead of the usual one, and both of them together. Rejoice!
First: Did you know that people in wheelchairs get to ride an extra attraction that no one else get to do? It's the hidden elevator! There are rides that have elevators so people in wheelchairs can get into the loading area or out of the unload area. Revenge of the Mummy and Men in Black at Universal Studios Florida provide two examples.
Did you know about the hidden, "extra" ride inside here?
Next door at Islands of Adventure, on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey one has to take two elevators — the first one just before the sorting hat (which makes one miss that element of the queue). At Walt Disney World's Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom, one has to take the elevator only once, when the ride is over.
[Editor's note: How about the granddaddy of wheelchair-access theme park elevators — the elevator and van ride between the upper and lower lots at Universal Studios Hollywood?]
What all the elevators have in common is that they kill the magic, since they are not themed. The only theme park elevator that got themed is located at Disney Hollywood Studios.
Second: Actually this one has nothing to do with theme parks. It is about my wheelchair experience at my local zoo during Halloween. It is called Zoo Boo, and the scares came not from scare actors, but it came from accessibility issues. And all of them from haunted houses.
Haunted house #1: I was driving my power wheelchair through a hallway, and they turned off the lights. I had to drive in a pitch black hallway with a group of screaming teenagers behind me.
Haunted house #2: I drove most of the place without a problem, but toward the end there was a narrow hallway with airbags at both sides; my wheelchair got stuck between those airbags, and when I tried to move the wheelchair in reverse, it tilted backwards and I was lucky to have someone behind to hold the wheelchair. Someone went to the exit to ask for help.
Haunted house #3: This one was in 3D! It was eye-popping, but the 3D made it hard to see the distance of every object. I hit walls and people.
I have never been to the Halloween event at Universal, but according to the park, all haunted mansions are fully wheelchair accessible. Next time, I know where I can get my scares without getting scared.
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