Tracey Ham claimed half of her son Zachary’s 13th birthday at Thorpe Park was wasted on the bumper cars before staff finally gave them a fast track pass so they could skip the lines
Image: BPM MEDIA)
A mum says her autistic son’s birthday was ‘ruined’ after he was denied an access pass to Thorpe Park – and claims it’s ‘because he’s not disabled enough’.
Tracy Ham, 41, is on disability housing benefit as her 13-year-old son Zachary Relfe has autism. MyLondon reported.
On previous visits to the theme park, the two obtained a ride access pass simply by showing staff proof of disability, as Zachary has a hard time queuing.
But mum Tracey claims a new Thorpe Park policy means her son is considered ‘not disabled enough’ to get the pass.
She arrived at the park at 10:15 am on Saturday, May 28 and was told by officials that she needed to fill out a form online seven days in advance.
The Paddock Wood mum was unaware of the change and immediately filled out a form on the website, but her application was denied because Zachary is only receiving mediocre care – not the high rate needed to be eligible.
Tracy said: “I was angry. I was really angry that my money and time was wasted and disappointed that his birthday was ruined. He looks forward to his trip to Thorpe Park every year.”
Thorpe Park’s website states: “Please note that having a registered disability does not mean you will automatically receive a Ride Access Pass.”
The mother and son then spent the next four hours walking around the park, with Zachary unable to manage long lines. He decided to ride the bumper car five times instead.
Tracy added, “The person that upsets the child is the mother. He couldn’t do the things he wanted to do. It was just a waste of time. If I had known that, I would not have gone there.”
She returned to customer service and fought the dodgy wifi to fill out the form again, with Tracey estimating that she spent an hour a day filling out forms.
After being denied again, a member of staff decided to issue her fast-track tickets as a goodwill gesture so she could skip the lines, as she had hoped in the morning.
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Though Tracy eventually got the tickets for instant access, she said it was still “a shame the day was wasted.”
She added: “Because of the way my son is, we don’t go out that often which made it harder again. There are a lot of people walking with disabled kids, so I think it affects a lot of people.”
A spokesman for Thorpe Park said: “As part of our continued focus on providing our guests with the best possible experience when visiting our theme parks in the UK, we have listened to guest feedback and have moved to an expanded registration for our Ride Access Pass.
“Documentation is requested to ensure the Ride Access Pass remains effective for guests who need it and by doing this up front the process is more efficient for everyone.
“Pre-booking reduces the queue during the day, which helps all of our guests enjoy the best possible experience at our theme parks.
“There have been no changes to the criteria or documentation for Ride Access Passes that we are accepting this season.
“The only change is simplifying the process by centralizing it and moving it online instead of in the attraction, allowing guests to easily apply online before their visit.
“This change helps ensure we have consistency across all of our theme parks and provides our guests with the best possible experience when visiting our attractions by saving them time on the day of their visit.
“This move to an online process came after a detailed review of customer feedback and in collaboration with accessibility experts such as Access Card.
“This is accepted documentation at all of our theme parks as well as many other leading UK attractions, saving time for many people who already have one.
“We want our magical experiences to be accessible to all, and to achieve that we ask our guests to prepare for their visit by checking our website for the latest guidance.
“Our website home page has a shortcut tab at the top that links directly to our dedicated accessibility webpage, which explains the changes to the Ride Access Pass process above.
“This page also contains a clear hyperlink to our dedicated Ride Access Pass webpage for more information.
“We strive to listen, learn and adapt to the needs of our guests and welcome the opportunity to discuss our guests’ experiences to help us create the best possible experiences for the future.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/autistic-boy-denied-thorpe-park-27115361 Autistic boy denied access pass to Thorpe Park because he is 'not disabled enough', mother claims