For children with special needs, finding the right vacation destination is a challenge. This is particularly true for children with physical handicaps, which may prevent them from accessing areas the rest of the family would like to visit. The Americans with Disabilities Act helps, but many popular destinations still remain out of reach for children with special needs. However, there are a few popular California locations that can offer fun and safety for the whole family:
Legoland is a great destination for families with children under eleven years old. While they do offer some rollercoasters, many of their attractions are education-based. Legoland’s park system offers a full guide for guests with special needs. Thoroughly review this guide prior to the trip to help you plan a visit that maximizes everyone’s enjoyment.
Remember to read each ride’s description carefully. Some attractions have additional accessibility requirements. Just because a ride is wheelchair-accessible, does not mean it will be sufficient for your individual child. Luckily, Legoland offers diverse attractions including an aquarium.
2. Silver Strand State Beach
Located just outside Coronado near San Diego, Silver Strand State Beach has been modified to be highly accessible, especially for individuals with wheelchairs. In addition to restrooms, a plaza, and parking regions that are all handicap friendly, this beach offers a number of sand-compatible wheelchairs and mats that ensures access even when someone’s normal wheelchair wouldn’t let them get through.
The park also allows families to drop off family members with special needs closer to the bay, making it that much easier for everyone to enjoy a day at the beach. If you’re looking for a little sun and sand on your next vacation, this beach is definitely worth considering.
When most people think of Disneyland, they think of its exotic attractions and thrilling rides — many of which do have certain physical requirements. What many people don’t realize is just how extensive guest services for visitors with disabilities are. This doesn’t just apply to physical needs, either. Disneyland has specific plans in place to help visitors with neurological and emotional issues feel happy and welcomed.
Check in with guest services when you first get to the park and Disneyland employees will give you a schedule to skip through to the front of the line. As long as you bring a note from a doctor, you can have a Fast Pass to every ride throughout the day.
The Golden Rule: Double Check Everything
The locations listed above are all highly accessible, but one thing to remember is that it’s impossible for any location to predict every combination of disabilities someone might have. Companies do their best, but if your child’s needs aren’t as straightforward as needing a ramp, then it’s vital that you repeatedly check every location you plan on taking your child to visit.
Remember, most locations will not make exceptions if a child’s disabilities fall outside of what that area was designed to handle. This is a safety issue. There are usually laws and local regulations that specifically prohibit them from giving exceptions in most circumstances, and knowing whether or not your child will be permitted into a given area before you go is the best way of avoiding problems.
If your child is going on a vacation as part of a school trip, the school may be required to ensure access to at least some of the activities. Don’t hesitate to ask them about how they plan to accommodate your child, and if their answer is not satisfactory, ask for advice. Every child deserves the best educational opportunities, regardless of what activities the school is doing.