Recently I visited Legoland Windsor with my family. It was my first full day out as a wheelchair user.
I’ve needed to use one occasionally in the past, usually for food shopping or being able to attend an appointment – but not yet for a day out.
We rented one from Legoland when we arrived. The staff member who supported us was friendly and joked with us as I expressed my disappointment that it was not made of Lego.
They gave me a guide which shows which entrances to use for all of the rides, the list included other access considerations too such as which rides were suitable for a pacemaker, which have flashing lights etc.
We first off got the train that takes you to the other side of the park, and this was very easy to do as a wheelchair user.
I felt relieved that it had been so easy to start the day there. Lots of accessible toilets, lots of flat surfaces for the chair and the first two or three staff members we encountered were respectful.
Sadly though – this did not last long.
I want to be clear that I don’t blame the staff we interacted with – they were doing their jobs and following Legoland policy. It is true that they could have had more awareness about disability (one of them asked me if I could walk) – but I’m not sure what good that would have done when the policy is so restrictive.
We were waiting in line at an accessible entrance for one of the rides. We’d done this two times so far and it had gone smoothly – but this time a staff member came over and asked to see our access pass.
We handed over the things we’d been given by the wheelchair rental, and they explained this wasn’t what he was looking for and we needed to download an app because we needed a QR code. We took a break and went to download the app – we weren’t able to do this without further information from the park so we went to guest services.
The staff member explained that we needed an access pass – but these needed to applied for 7 days before our visit. They said that as we were already there – the sensory centre maybe able to help us.
We headed there.
The sensory centre staff explained that we needed documentation – this could be:
a consultant or GP letter detailing your disability or the individual you are applying for;
a photocopy of your blue badge, or the individual you are applying for;
a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) , Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) stating that you are entitled to a higher rate or enhanced rate mobility allowance or the individual your applying for
We were both upset by this. We obviously didn’t bring this type of documentation with us on our trip – but even if I had, I do not understand why I need to prove I am disabled in order to use the rides at a park where I have paid for tickets.
I understand – Legoland want to avoid people taking advantage of the access queues. But is the answer to this discriminating against their disabled guests?
It was clear to me that Legoland as a company do not understand disability. There are so many reasons why a disabled person wouldn’t have any of this documentation. There are so many reasons why disabled people do not want to show it to you even if they do have it. There are so many reasons why disabled people will not be able to complete an online application form a week before they come to Legoland.
My partner and I are both disabled and both work in disability rights – we did not let this ruin our day, but it was upsetting. Our family, that includes a 9yo girl, missed out on the ride and even though they are both so supportive of my access needs – I still felt like I had burdened them.
I’m asking you, Legoland – to please revisit your accessibility policies. Create them with disabled people and consider some training for staff. The park really is only a few tweaks away from being so much more accessible for disabled people and their families.
Yours sincerely, a normal family wanting a normal day out.