Pleasure for all; overstimulated day attractions in the Netherlands …?

Good news for 20 percent of the world’s over-stimulated population: ‘Six Flags’ 26 theme parks become Certified Autism Centres’. From now on, it will receive guests with autism with open arms!

Amerikaans bedrijf maakt eerste prikkelarme attractieparken voor autisten

Six Flags’ is the first US company to make its 26 family theme parks worldwide suitable for guests with autism. This will equip staff to welcome guests with special needs better and more hospitably. There will also be a special guide describing irritability for each ride and attraction. In addition, there will be special areas where guests can relax in a calmer environment.

What a great move! What about Dutch day attractions …?

In the Netherlands … over-stimulated in theme parks?

Suzanne, mother of 3 children with various forms of autism, said: ‘My children need clarity and structure. There shouldn’t be too much stimuli in the park. If my kids stand in the queue for three quarters of an hour, they will go wild’. Petra, another mother added: ‘When visiting a day attraction with my family, it is important that we can take a break and do it at a more leisurely pace’. She will never go to a day attraction during the peak season. Her big desire is that they can do something as a family where everyone has a good time. With a relaxed environment with staff who are non-judgmental. Petra said: ‘When my children are screaming, kicking or shouting strange things, it is very difficult as a parent to react in a social environment. Staff who respond empathetically are very important in this respect’

Amusement parks in the Netherlands therefore still have some work to do! Apart from separate queues and special entrances that some parks have, there are many more possibilities. With small adjustments, a theme park can already make a big difference! An industry professional said to me: ‘This is really not economically feasible! Six Flags’ is doing it. So, yes it can be done! 

More and more low-incentive activities in the Netherlands

This is also evident from many other initiatives. For example, low-stimulus fairs, concerts and theatre performances. Utrecht had the scoop in Europe with the first low-incentive circus. Museums also respond to this need; some have a special information guide. Suzanne said ‘Only when there are things to do in a museum, I go there with my children. A scavenger hunt or something like that is fun’. Central to low-incentive concepts is reducing environmental stimuli: fewer visitors, less amplified sound, no light effects, plenty of seating, and shorter duration. 

I make leisure inclusive!

Do you want to make your day attractions also accessible to guests with stimulus-sensitive disabilities? Or would you like a baseline measurement of the accessibility and inclusivity of your day attractions? Karin Stiksma is the founder of Joint Projects and is a strategic consultant working at the intersection of accessibility and leisure. Do you have questions or could you use support in making your day attraction more accessible? If so, please contact me.



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