Thorpe Park has “ruined” the boy’s birthday after denying his mum rides with one arm

Lisa Johnstone, from Huthwaite in North Nottinghamshire, said she was asked about her “amputation” during her son’s birthday trip last week and was taken off the rides at Thorpe Park

Matthew and Lisa Johnstone visited Thorpe Park with their children Ava and Toby
Matthew and Lisa visited the amusement park with their children Ava and Toby

An “angry” mum said her son’s trip to Thorpe Park was “ruined” when staff refused to let her on the rides because she only has one arm.

Lisa Johnstone, 45, visited the theme park with her husband Matthew and their children Ava, 13, and 11-year-old Toby, who now that he’s big enough “wanted to hit all the big rides”.

Toby’s birthday weekend included Legoland and Windsor Castle before meeting friends at Thorpe Park on June 1st.

But the first ride they attempted at Thorpe Park was Stealth, a launched roller coaster.

But then problems with Lisa arose.

The mother, from Huthwaite in North Nottinghamshire, said: “We got on the ride and sat down, then I was approached by a steward who asked about my ‘amputation’.

Lisa said she was asked by staff if she couldn’t take part in the larger rides due to her disability



“When I showed them it was above the elbow I was told I couldn’t drive, although I said I had attended everything at Alton Towers.

“Having to get out was very humiliating and made my son nervous too, he didn’t like the ride later.”

Her husband Matthew has a RAP because of his diabetes, the pass part of a system that allows guests who need extra help or who can’t queue to access the rides via a virtual queuing system.

This eliminates the need for guests to wait in queues for main rides.

The family explained that they had visited Thorpe Park two years ago, where Lisa had similar problems with the park’s water slide, Tidal Wave.

But the family went back because Toby was now keen to be big enough to try the bigger rides.

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But teacher Lisa felt “discriminated against” when she couldn’t go on big trips this time.

“It ruined the day. I couldn’t share my son’s birthday excitement and my friends were very uncomfortable with me, but they did something too.

“I don’t have an amputation. I was born with one arm above the elbow,” she added.

“I’m a 45-year-old female who can swim, bike and drive, among other things, and is allowed on all rides at Alton Towers.”

After the saga, Lisa, who has her own sign-writing business, spoke to the theme park stewards and said he was shown a long list of rides she wasn’t allowed on and they left to speak to customer service.

The family said they were told by a manager that Lisa could not participate in the rides due to manufacturer guidelines.

But she stressed she could still ride big rides at Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

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“Now that I understand that Thorpe Park only follows these, I find it ridiculous that the ‘policies’ between Merlin-owned parks can be so different,” she said.

“Like my husband said, stealth has the same thing [safety] Tie up like Rita (an attraction at Alton Towers) that I attended.”

She added: “I told him (the manager) that I felt discriminated against and that it spoiled the day for us and our friends.”

As the family is Merlin Gold Pass holders, they said they were offered meal vouchers and Fast Tracks, but these vouchers were very limited in where they could be used.

Not being able to ride the rides, Lisa explained, “The fast tracks were like a slap in the face for me.”

The pair were told Thorpe Park would be changing some of its rules but said they were not told what rules might be changed and whether Lisa might be able to do bigger rides in the future.

During the trip to Thorpe Park in Surrey, Lisa said she could have gone on the bumper cars or the teacups, but decided against it.

She added: “It completely spoiled the whole holiday. I’m still angry about it.”

With Thorpe Park almost three hours away from the family, they say they won’t be going there again, but they hope changes are made. The family is also considering renewing their Merlin annual passes.

A spokesman for Thorpe Park said: “At Thorpe Park Resort we take several steps to ensure all our guests have the correct information before their visit.

“Our website home page has a shortcut tab at the top that leads directly to our dedicated accessibility webpage, which in turn contains a clear hyperlink to our dedicated accessibility daily planner for more information.

“We conduct full accessibility reviews throughout the year and work closely with manufacturers to determine where there is room for adjustment to enable better accessibility.

“Ultimately, the health and safety of our guests and staff must remain of paramount importance.

“We remain committed to listening, learning and adapting to the needs of our guests and welcome the opportunity to discuss guest experiences to help us create the best possible experiences for the future.”

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