Stressful Ableism

Disabled college students faces ableism at ValleyScare

Emily Brown, Senior Columnist

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A couple of weeks ago, my best friend and I went to ValleyScare. It was student ID night, so we were able to get in for $20 each. Once we were in, we were ready for a fun night off, but we quickly realized it would be more complicated than that.

We hit up the haunted house and quickly ran into our first problem even before we got inside. The line was made up of gates with long bars on the bottom to hold them up. The problem was that the bars made the aisle too narrow for my wheelchair to fit through comfortably. I got through the line, but not without driving over the bars, which was uncomfortable for me.

The first haunted house was really fun and scary, and we decided to just let the issue with the gate go. We hit up Power Tower and got in line. When we got to the front, we realized we had to go through a turn style which forces to get on the ride and the ride operator seemed less than willing to help. We were forced to go back through the line with everyone staring. At first, I felt so embarrassed and I apologized to my friend. She said it was fine, and I decided to have fun with it.

Once we got to the exit, the real stress of the night began. You see, ValleyFair used to have a policy that disabled people could go to the front of the line. Other theme parks have the same policy for accessibility, but it’s also nice to have a perk with all the stress that comes with cerebral palsy. The policy was changed when I was very little, and my mom hasn’t taken me back ever since. I went a couple times on field trips as a teenager and I ran into the same problems every time.

I ultimately got a free fast pass, so why am I complaining? I’m complaining because I’m slower than the regular person with a fast pass. I can’t quickly run up to a ride operator for them to sign their sheet and then, play games for the next twenty minutes and come back.”

ValleyFair changed their policy so that you have to first fill out a form with about ten questions proving that you’re disabled (because the wheelchair isn’t a dead giveaway) and that you’re safe to go on the rides.

That’s fine and all, but then you have to go up to the  ride you want to go on and give the operator the sheet and they give you a time when you can come back to ride. This is called a fast pass and it costs extra to the general public. I ultimately got a free fast pass, so why am I complaining?

I’m complaining because I’m slower than the regular person with a fast pass. I can’t run up to a ride operator for them to sign their sheet and then play games for the next twenty minutes and come back. It takes time for me to park my chair and transfer onto a ride. Yes, my chair is fast, but when I’m in a crowded area, I have to move really slowly and constantly look out for other people. It’s stressful and it only took the fun away from what was supposed to be a relaxing night off for me and my best friend.

The haunted houses were a whole other deal. Many of the scarers were too afraid to scare me due to me being in a wheelchair. This too put a damper on the night.

Despite all the ableism and stress, we had one of the best nights of my life. It was nice to feel like an adult and have a couple fleeting hours where I didn’t have to worry about a million different things in my life. I just wish that it wasn’t tarnished by ableism.

 

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