Over the past year, we’ve made a lot of progress in our ongoing efforts to make LEGOLAND Florida Resort a more welcoming place for guests with autism spectrum disorders. With April designated as Autism Awareness Month, here’s a look at some of the new services and initiatives we’ve launched:
To assist guests who have difficulty waiting in line, we’ve created a pass specifically for guests on the autism spectrum. Available inside the theme park at Guest Services near Market Restaurant, the no-cost “Blue Hero Pass” allows the guest and his or her family or group to bypass the standby line at popular attractions.
We’ve also modified several guest areas working in partnership with the North and Central Florida chapter of Autism Speaks. Specially equipped spaces in our Annual Pass, First Aid and Baby Care facilities now serve as designated “quiet rooms” where quests who are on the autism spectrum and their families can take a break. Noise-cancelling headphones, weighted blankets, squishy toys and LEGO® building tables are some of the complimentary resources available. A similar space also is available within Guest Services at LEGOLAND Water Park.
Working in consultation with Autism Speaks, our Training & Development team has created “social stories” that offer an illustrated, step-by-step walkthrough of every ride and show, so guests won’t be surprised by periods of darkness, loud noises, bright lights or other elements that sometimes can be frightening or overwhelming. They’re available for review at Guest Services in the theme park.
A great pre-arrival resource is our extensive Guide for Guests with Disabilities, a printable PDF file that addresses common questions about medical and mobility restrictions, plus accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The resort’s newly hired Model Citizens now receive specialized training to prepare them with skills and sensitivities needed to more effectively interact with guests on the autism spectrum and their families or caregivers. Consultations include Dr. Craig Glaser, the resort’s medical director, who also serves as medical director of Winter Haven’s Urgent Care Cypress facility.
Our parent company, Merlin Entertainments, operates under a set of values that includes “we care,” and by working together and in partnership with organizations like Autism Speaks, we’re committed to ensure that the place #BuiltForKids is truly built for all kids.