Most people associate amusements parks with a light-hearted summer activity, however, for individuals on the autism spectrum it can prove to be a very stress inducing environment. Many theme parks feature bold colors, sounds, and smells, intended to overstimulate your senses and capture the attention of guests. Unfortunately, many major water parks do not take into account their customers with developmental disorders. Until recently, when Aquatica in Orlando, Florida, made history and became the first autism-certified water park in the world.
Aquatica has been around for over a decade, gaining much success. Though with a few adjustments they were able to create a more inclusive environment and become certified on January 8th of this year. To earn this achievement a minimum of 80% of staff members had to undergo training on a range of topics. According to Fiza Pirani, from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, topics included sensory-awareness, motor skills, social skills, and emotional awareness.
Aquatica features a private retreat for guests seeking comfort, with access to adjustable lighting and low sensory stimulation. As well as a ride accessibility program, that allows guest to enjoy their experience while remaining safe. Some park activities include splash pools, dolphin viewing, beaches, a lazy river, water spouts, rafting, and body slides. Staff is prepared to ease children into these experiences, as they have learned how to deal with many temperaments.
This vacation destination offers comfort to many families of children with autism or disabilities who want to create memorable experiences. Aquatica is open year round, as long as the weather permits it, making it a great getaway option. Although Aquatica is the only autism certified waterpark, there are a few regular theme parks that are autism-friendly. Including Sesame Place, which is the first autism certified theme park, as well as Morgan’s Wonderland and Legoland which are both extremely inclusive.