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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A not so amusing amusement park story...

Robby turned three this past Saturday. In honor of becoming a "big boy" we took him to a small amusement park. I am feeling a lot of pride because I think Scott and I have managed to execute the perfect birthday for our little boy. Unfortunately, last July we had the opposite experience at a different amusement park.

Last July we took Robby to Six Flags near Washington D.C.. Robby was two and was immediately mesmerized by his surroundings. And, much to our dismay, he loved the rides. Because he is still too young to ride alone, we were forced to endure the rising g-forces and the unbalanced equilibrium the rides tend to inflict on its passengers past the age of 30.

We waited in line for nearly 30 minutes for our turn on the log flume ride. If you've ever waited in a line with a toddler, you know that this was no easy task! After much anticipation, it was our turn to get onto the ride.

In an attempt to build excitement, I chatted with Robby about our upcoming ride as I took my seat. Robby was thrilled to finally be on the ride. We locked into our seats and waited to move. We felt a soft jerk and then the ride was stopped.

I looked up to see the slumping teenager approaching me. In a loud voice I was told that I needed to exit the ride. I asked "why" and was informed, "you need one arm and two legs to ride."

Immediately I became furious and my frustrations only rose with each fidget of my excited little boy. I asked them to show me where this rule was posted. The teenager informed me that it wasn't posted, but that it was a "park rule." Instantly, I began to rationalize that I had two legs, but only one foot. I then tried to reason that my prosthetic was a leg the only difference being the ability to remove it.

Finally! I thought I had made some headway with the obstinate teenager. He walked back to the stool to consult with his coworker. I saw them talking back and forth for several minutes. Collectively they decided that the foot was the same as the leg and therefore I needed to get off the ride.

I was stumped. I had never run into this situation. I did not want to exit the ride but the increasing stares from onlookers who were waiting in line became nearly unbearable. I took Robby, who was hysterical, and walked off the ride. I felt humiliated.

Fuming but calm, I proceeded to guest services for clarification. I received perplexed expressions when I informed the representatives about the "one arm two leg rule." I asked them to contact their employees at the log flume ride to tell them that no such rule existed. Instead of being remorseful about the encounter and accommodating about my request, they handed me a park handbook and suggested I return to the ride to educate the employees.

Flabbergasted, I tried to explain that educating the employees was not my responsibility. I was asked if I wanted to file a formal complaint. This was the first and only time I have taken such an action. My husband entertained Robby while I filled out the paperwork and wrote my detailed account. After nearly 45 minutes, I emerged from the Guest Services trailer frustrated and angrier than when I arrived.

As I wrote in a previous posts, my anxiety starts to rise as the impeding visit to an amusement park looms. I am thrilled that Saturday went off without any conflicts or drama and that we had a wonderful time. I left feeling tired but happy.

Last July, as I was walking out of the gates of Six Flags, I felt beaten down and disabled. My son was disappointed because my amputation kept us off a ride. I felt like a failure. Worse than that, I felt like a disabled failure. To date, I have yet to hear from a representative of Six Flags.

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