Two Virginia Theme Parks and Their Accessibility
Summer is the perfect season to enjoy the excitement and allure of theme parks. From sweet treats to roller coasters that seem as tall as the Empire state building, there are endless activities guaranteed to give a family a whole day of fun.
Two of the most popular theme parks in Virginia are Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion, both boasting a variety of roller coasters, games, photo ops, and helpful accommodations for tourists with disabilities. Keep reading to learn more about these parks and their accessibility measures.
Kings Dominion and Soak City
Built in 1975 in Doswell, VA, Kings Dominion quickly became a well-received family destination for those in the Mid-Atlantic region. Over the years, the park has created newer and more fascinating roller coasters and attractions. One of their first notable attractions was their one-third scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, as well as the Rebel Yell roller coaster. Now, they are focused on expanding their Planet Snoopy area, or the PEANUTS-themed aspect of the park. Kings Dominion continues to be a great place for anyone seeking adventure, thrills, and loads of entertainment.
As for their accessibility, the Kings Dominion site, linked here, offers much helpful information, including their own accessibility guide. The guide, which can be accessed here, explains signage throughout the park, gives safety information to patrons, and an explanation of rider criteria for each attraction at Kings Dominion. Soak City does not have its own accessibility guide, as its information is included in the main Kings Dominion guide.
Kings Dominion also provides a Boarding Pass Program which allows visitors with mobility related disabilities and cognitive related disabilities to access an attraction via an Alternate Access Entrance. Visitors who cannot wait in long lines and who need to avoid crowds can benefit from this program. Guests interested in the program should approach Guest Services at first, and then follow the appropriate steps listed in the guide.
The site gives tips to visitors with ASD, as well as some information about rest and quiet areas, which can be helpful for visitors with sensory disabilities. Certain wheelchairs, strollers, and electric convenience vehicles (ECVs) are available for rent in a limited quantity. Water wheelchairs are also available for use at Soak City, Kings Dominion’s water park. Additional information is also available for guests with audio related disabilities, guests with service animals, guests with casts and braces, and guests who have prosthetics on the accessibility site.
In all, Kings Dominion has some available help to offer visitors so that they can have a safe and enjoyable experience at the park.
Busch Gardens and Water Country U.S.A.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, or Busch Gardens as it is more casually known, got its start in 1975 in (you guessed it) Williamsburg, VA. It is known for its European themed areas, or hamlets. From the Heatherdowns hamlet signifying Scotland to the Aquitaine hamlet representing France, Busch Gardens involves itself with the culture of each country it represents, in the food served there, in the roller coasters and games available, and in the architecture of the area itself. Some of the most famous rides in the park are the Loch Ness Monster and the Griffon.
Besides its wide array of attractions, the park is also home to large conservation efforts, with an area dedicated to providing habitats for different animals. A host of Broadway-style shows are available to watch as well.
The Busch Gardens site, linked here, has much information about the accessibility at its own park and at Water Country U.S.A., its associated water park, also located in Williamsburg. There are two guides, one for Busch Gardens and one for Water Country U.S.A., as well as details about their Ride Accessibility Program, mobility device rentals, and frequently asked accessibility questions.
Looking closer at the Busch Gardens accessibility guide, linked here, the document is comprehensive and gives an easy to follow overview of accessibility measures at the park. The guide begins with an explanation of general park information relating to accessibility, such as accessibility in restrooms. Then, the guide goes into ride access information and ride access criteria for each ride. The guide ends with accommodations available for guests with vision and audio related disabilities.
Much like the Busch Gardens accessibility guide, the Water Country U.S.A. guide, which is linked here, gives general park accessibility information, ride access criteria for each ride, and ride information overall. Having guides for both parks is definitely helpful at keeping the differing accommodations between each park organized.
Busch Garden’s Ride Accessibility Program is similar to that of Kings Dominion. The program gives disabled visitors the opportunity to use an alternative entrance and enter a virtual queue so that they do not have to wait in the general line. Busch Gardens also provides a questionnaire, linked here, that, once completed and taken to team members at the park, can provide disabled visitors with access to the Ride Accessibility Program.
Wheelchairs and ECVs are available for rent at Busch Gardens on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reservations can be made online for Busch Gardens via the link here, and for Water Country U.S.A. via the link here.
Overall, Busch Gardens seems to have some helpful information to assist visitors with disabilities in having a wonderful day at the park.
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