Dollywood continues to make use of modern methods to make their park accessible to anybody

Dollywood continues to make use of modern methods to make their park accessible to anybody

A trip to a theme park for children with an autism spectrum disorder or a disability can be packed full of obstacles. Things like sensory overload, no way to get in or out of rides, or nowhere to relax to take it all in just to name a few.

Dollywood is working every day to change that.

“We want to make everyone feel inclusive so they can embrace the experience here at Dollywood,” Judy Toth, Dollywood Safety Manager, said.

It’s Judy Toth’s job to make sure everyone can safely enjoy the park.

It all starts at the ride accessibility center. Here, if your child has autism — you can learn more about the rides and the sounds they’ll hear to decide whether it’s a good fit for your child.

Another way Dollywood is making their park fun for anyone is with their calming room. It’s the first of it’s kind in the world and it was all Judy’s idea.

“So the calming room is a quiet getaway for anyone on the spectrum or any other cognitive disorder,” she said.

This room provides a place people can go to avoid overstimulation from the sights and the sounds that come with any theme park. Judy said she understood the need for this and that’s why she created it.

“Just listening to people’s needs made me want to do it. Also, My uncle did have an intellectual disability. I grew up in a house where I understood how people may judge,” she said.

Other ways the park is ahead of the curve is by adding adult changing tables in restrooms and making the eating areas accessible to anyone.

Dollywood’s Splash Country has made some changes as well by adding a calming area and water wheelchairs that make getting into water tubes easier.

Judy said people now come to Dollywood specifically because of their accessibility options throughout the park. In the time since the calming room opened, 400 families have used it, and 300 new families have visited the park just because the room exists.

“We embrace them and make them feel at home,” Toth said.

© 2018 WBIR

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