Ride Access Pass Systems and Disabled Access

Alsty

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Shambhala
It is, go through this thread and see how many times terms like cheat and abusing the system has been used.

Just tar everybody with the same brush, just something else for you all to complain about.
Do you not acknowledge there are people abusing the RAP system? Is it wrong for us to not want a system that works better for everybody, those with disabilities included?
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
The thing is, though; as I said above, whether or not an RAP user can queue isn’t really a yes or no question, as it can depend on the circumstances of a given queue or how they’re feeling at the time. Someone might be able to deal with a short queue or a queue with no steps, but be unable to deal with a long queue or a queue with lots of steps. Or they might have been able to queue in the main queue at the start of the day, but they might have gone into a meltdown and things might be getting a bit much later on, thus meaning that the RAP is needed.
Matt, you are absolutely spot on there. There are many different factors, and even genuine users may not always need to use the pass.

Back in 2020 when I got my first plastic RAP card (after that was introduced), I had a meltdown as I didn't want the red type (means you can't ride alone due to evac procedures, yellow means you can) and was forced to have it because I have a "cognitive" disability. That was hard, because it reminded me why I qualify for the pass. I can ride alone, and do quite often at other parks (as well as a few times at Towers in the past), but I can get distressed and have meltdowns. That is why I qualify.

There is a difference between ambulant (can walk unaided, like me) and non-ambulant (can't walk unaided or wheelchair) users. The former don't require physical support, but may require emotional support. The latter do require physical support, but may also require emotional support. My support is there to help me when I need it (not all the time like someone who needs physical support walking), which can vary depending on a few different factors.
 
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jon81uk

TS Member
Genuine question here.

How do ambulant RAP users cope outside of the UK? I've been to many parks in Europe over the last few years and separate disabled queues are rarely a thing. You'll get the occasional wheelchair user for instance boarding via the exit, but there's nowhere near the level of inclusivity that the UK has. Yet, it doesn't seem to stop people who use RAP from visiting parks abroad.

I'm not a RAP user, just a Disney nerd.
But Disney is probably the main example of providing access to those who have sensory needs so they cannot wait in the main queue.
In most cases at Disney parks, those guests when they return just enter via the FastPass/ Lightening Lane/ Premier entrance.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
I'm not an engineer or have any insight to the processes of how rides are designed so this might sound completely absurd to some but I feel like ride manufacturers should be more accommodating of longer dispatch times and making sure a ride hits capacity targets in order to deal with guests with additional needs and requirements, how they would attempt to do this I have no idea, but I'd like to see more innovation on their behalf.

For example could a manufacturer find a way to meet the same throughput targets when dispatch times are increased by 10-20% than what they'd expect with "normal" guests?

At Disney they have areas on some rides where the vehicle can pull over to allow for those who need more time to board (generally wheelchair uses, or those who are less mobile).

However as discussed most of the issue for the volume of users of RAP more recently is hidden disabilities and sensory issues, so they are ambulant and don't often need more time to board. The issue is just queue line merge points.
 

Sambiasso

TS Member
Do you not acknowledge there are people abusing the RAP system? Is it wrong for us to not want a system that works better for everybody, those with disabilities included?
Not that many that justifies the massive over exaggeration that people are claiming on here.

I've never seen anyone in a RAP que that was clearly cheating or abusing it.

If none of you who claim the systems are being abused and cheat actually use the RAP then how do you know it's being abused so much? Is it just hear say or Chinese wispers within the community?
 

Plastic Person

TS Member
If none of you who claim the systems are being abused and cheat actually use the RAP then how do you know it's being abused so much? Is it just hear say or Chinese wispers within the community?

There are members posting in this thread who use RAP who feel it is being abused. If you look back far enough, you might even uncover a few accounts where some have been encouraged to abuse it...

I don't really have many thoughts or opinions on who should or shouldn't be entitled to use RAP, and I am glad that parks are becoming more accessible, but we have all seen RAP queues at Merlin parks regularly reach the a level that defeats their purpose. It would be as cynical (and patronising) to suggest that the overall system ism't being at the very least, grossly mismanaged.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
There are members posting in this thread who use RAP who feel it is being abused. If you look back far enough, you might even uncover a few accounts where some have been encouraged to abuse it...

I don't really have many thoughts or opinions on who should or shouldn't be entitled to use RAP, and I am glad that parks are becoming more accessible, but we have all seen RAP queues at Merlin parks regularly reach the a level that defeats their purpose. It would be as cynical (and patronising) to suggest that the overall system ism't being at the very least, grossly mismanaged.
At least the issue of a big queue at Guest Services (queueing to obtain a pass that avoids queueing kind of defeats the point) has been mostly solved by restricting applications to online (in advance) only.
 
It doesn’t help when staff don’t always enforce it correctly. I’m sure most do, but a couple of months ago I saw rap people in the Smiler queue be let through before their allocated time and then shortly after people without a pass were allowed through after pleading and saying they didn’t have their card on them or something along those lines. I did wonder why the main queue for smiler was barely moving that day then I got to the indoor part and realised why. Of course there was fast track as well but I mainly saw rap users to be honest. Now I use single rider so I’ve no idea if it’s always like that or if it was just on that particular day.

Rap does get misused sadly, personally I think it’s brilliant that uk theme parks are becoming more inclusive to those with disabilities of any kind. But there are people who take the mick and staff who don’t enforce it properly for what ever reason and it makes queueing miserable for everyone else. Ideally queuing should be at least a neutral experience for everyone. Nobody should be waiting longer because the other, you join a rap queue you wait elsewhere as long as you would standing there, and if you join a stand by queue you shouldn’t be waiting longer because rap are being let through in unfair ratios or when it’s not their turn. Rap isn’t meant to be a free fast track but unfortunately some (I hope a minority) of people do see it that way. Rap is certainly better than what is offered at some other parks but it has a few kinks that need ironing out and consistency across the board.
 

Danscott22

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
Not that many that justifies the massive over exaggeration that people are claiming on here.

I've never seen anyone in a RAP que that was clearly cheating or abusing it.

If none of you who claim the systems are being abused and cheat actually use the RAP then how do you know it's being abused so much? Is it just hear say or Chinese wispers within the community?
I am my cousin's carer using it at Scarefest, I have personally heard people calling it a free fast track, and have personally heard people discussing openly whether they should use the main queue or the RAP queue. These events happened at Scarefest 2020 and 2021 - so yes, I have used it AND heard/seen people abusing it. This is the point I'm trying to make.
 

Benzin

TS Member
Why are most peoples attitudes that those who are entitled to a RAP are trying to abuse or cheat?!

It strikes me that some posters would rather not welcome disabled people to parks or attractions.

@Benzin Your recent post highlights a clear lack of understanding of how the access card works and the service it offers disabled people. The ' step/wheel in the right direction' was a crass comment.

Whilst you and the people who liked the post carry on stigmatising disabilities we will never be able to move on in society.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I'm married to a disabled person. But sure, I don't 'understand' the situations surrounding the RAP and Access cards.

People do abuse the system. It's clear as day when the RAP system is not only called "free Fastrack", but there's plenty of people online who openly talk about how to get it, forge doctors notes, etc. Hell over at WDW there's a business of people effectively "renting" their disabled children (or at least there was).

I think from your other posts you seem to have a problem with posters generalising about how "all RAP users are cheats", when never has anyone expressly said that. Accusing one side of generalising whilst you are also generalising that "enthusiasts just want something to moan about" is also funny.

Merlin parks are the only parks where disabled queues are genuinely problematic. And its only really come about into the last decade or so where the issues have arisen. There are many reasons behind this (poor operations, not using the cards correctly) but one reason is that there are a number of people who cheat the system, get a RAP when they don't actually need it and causes those who do need to use it to wait in longer queues. That is the group of people we talk about when there's cheats and abusers of the system, and that you would accuse anyone on here of not wanting disabled people in the parks is complete nonsense.

That you seem to think that people are fabricating lies in some anti-disabled rhetoric when you know nothing about the individuals posting says more to me than my own comment about a "step/wheel" in the right direction. If you found it crass then that's on you, but I live and care for someone with a disability, so how dare you accuse me of stigmatising her life (plus she'd probably be amused by that comment too, at least I'm being inclusive to all disabilities).

Some weird white knighting going on.
 

WillPS

TS Member
I am my cousin's carer using it at Scarefest, I have personally heard people calling it a free fast track, and have personally heard people discussing openly whether they should use the main queue or the RAP queue. These events happened at Scarefest 2020 and 2021 - so yes, I have used it AND heard/seen people abusing it. This is the point I'm trying to make.
The ridiculous thing about RAP is that if you genuinely struggle with being in a queue for an extended period of time, it is now a totally valid judgment call as to whether the main queue or RAP queue will be more bearable.

Even with a Q-bot style device, it wouldn't stop the RAP user joining a normal queue while waiting for another attraction. I don't see how that avenue of abuse can be closed down.

Nonetheless any efforts that help to reduce misuse are welcome.
I can think of a couple of solutions to this.

Solution 1 - certain rides become Q-bot only (as was considered at Alton Towers last year). RAP ceases to be a thing on these other than where physical accessibility is a problem. It also solves other problems, mostly to do with managing peaks and troughs of demand, but causes the problem of where all those guests actually go - potentially putting strain on non-Q-bot attractions.

Solution 2 - all guests are given a coloured non-reusable wristband on entry - when RAP is used, the wrist band must be completely removed and discarded. All guests using the normal queue must have a wrist band. (The inverse is also possible however it'd be quite easy to cover up a wrist band.)
 
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Danscott22

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
I agree with what you're saying in relation to my comment. For us, my cousin is in a wheelchair so the main queue lines are a write off altogether. He doesn't get agitated waiting in the long RAP queue lines, like we waited 35 minutes in the Thirteen RAP last year. It is more mobility issues of the main queue lines not being accessible (i.e Smiler) and the walking length (i.e Oblivion, Rita) and the steepness (Galactica/Nemesis; etc). He's not good on his feet really but would just about be able to manage evacuation procedures on his own - and even then would probably need me to help a little bit. I can't see the issue ever being resolved to be honest, as the same discussion happens every year.
 

WillPS

TS Member
I agree with what you're saying in relation to my comment. For us, my cousin is in a wheelchair so the main queue lines are a write off altogether. He doesn't get agitated waiting in the long RAP queue lines, like we waited 35 minutes in the Thirteen RAP last year. It is more mobility issues of the main queue lines not being accessible (i.e Smiler) and the walking length (i.e Oblivion, Rita) and the steepness (Galactica/Nemesis; etc). He's not good on his feet really but would just about be able to manage evacuation procedures on his own - and even then would probably need me to help a little bit. I can't see the issue ever being resolved to be honest, as the same discussion happens every year.
Of course, and there's no decision in that case - you just have to sit with it, even if it's longer than the main queue because of idiots thinking they're cleverly getting 'free fast track'. And of course for the physically able guest who can't queue for more than a few minutes - they're back to having no realistic option to ride. It's a system that is failing in its own terms.

I think the long and short of it is that a ride queue will need to be refactored in time to no longer constitute a line of people leading up to a single entrance, it's just a case of getting to the tipping point where the entire thing is self evidently failing to the point it's a commercial risk continuing. After all, the people who think they're getting 'free fast track' are not going to consider paying for actual fast track, so there is certainly lost revenue there.

I'm optimistic that the access card partnership will have some positive short term effects, possibly put some of the more opportunistic sorts off, but the long term trajectory is just the same. There is now an army of people who feel entitled (but are not) who will in time figure how to get what they want again.
 
The subject of RAP users “abusing” the system is a sensitive one.

Unfortunately the problem has been exacerbated by the fact that Merlin parks in the UK have a load of very low capacity rides, together with a huge push towards people paying for fastrack, as well as Ride Priority Passes being given away too easily, by Guest Services, management and at the hotels, to diffuse any guest complaint.

This has meant that the main queues have got to such a state that many people see getting a RAP as a necessity and, if they’re entitled to one, they’ll get one.

If the main queues moved at a reasonable speed and there weren’t huge numbers of people with fastrack and Ride Priority Passes being allowed instant access, I really don’t think we’d see anywhere near as many people using the RAP service.

Certainly when you visit parks abroad which have disability access systems, only a tiny fraction of the guests use them, and it causes minimal disruption to the main queues.

If we want to see a return to a fairer RAP system, the parks have to first stop installing low capacity rides, increase throughputs on existing rides by running the full quota of trains, boats, cars etc, and for goodness sake, stop giving out Ride Priority Passes so easily. I’ve seen them given out on queue line evacs when the ride has only been down for 15 mins, I’ve seen them given by hotel staff to apologise for things like a faulty hair dryer, and I’ve seen managers turn up to complaints armed with books of priority passes, ready to throw at the guests, rather than get to the root of the problem. It’s a broken system, and staff in all departments need to be aware that giving our passes has a much bigger impact than it simply being a quick and easy guest recovery tool.

RAP holders are vilified, but it’s the park management teams which are far more to blame for the culture that’s been created. Chessington’s upcoming low capacity shuttle coaster doesn’t suggest that much is being done to address the problem.
 

Burbs

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Iron Gwazi
Priority Passes haven't been a thing for at least a year now, probably more. May have stopped around the time of reopening after covid (July 2020).
 

Benzin

TS Member
The subject of RAP users “abusing” the system is a sensitive one.

Depends really. If it's taking advantage of the staff members not filling in the card, then fault lies with the park.

If the abuse is shouting at staff for enforcing the rules so they get their group of 10 up the exit or switching wristbands around or generally cheating the system? Then these people shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of a system designed for those who need it.

It's like people using disabled parking bays without a blue badge (especially on street parking). It's an absolute pain for those who need it but until people get any form of consequence for their action (I.e. no it's not free fastrack) then the abuse of such a system continues.
 
Priority Passes haven't been a thing for at least a year now, probably more. May have stopped around the time of reopening after covid (July 2020).

They were in full use at Legoland Windsor when I visited in June 2021. I don’t visit the Merlin parks anywhere near as regularly as I used to, but was a regular in 2019 and before.
 

Islander

TS Member
I'm curious:

A reason often cited for RAP is the inability to cope with crowds, or crowded situations. This leads me on to two thoughts: firstly, I don't think I've ever been in a queueline that feels 'crowded' - it feels like a queue. You have people in front and behind of you, but unless behaviour is poor (which granted, sometimes it is), they shouldn't be actively jostling you, or acutely invading your personal space.

Secondly, and perhaps more pertinently, if the density of people within a queue is difficult to cope with, how do individuals cope with the density of people around the rest of the park? Or at supermarkets, or elsewhere in general life?

This is almost certainly coming from my naivety, and I would love to be educated on it, but crowds are a part of life, and if they are a genuine reason for creating reasonable adjustments within specifically theme park ride queues, I would have imagined that there would be many, many other walks of life in which case reasonable adjustments would also need to be made, probably as a priority over theme park queuelines.

To compare to a different access need: those who are not ambulant may struggle with many different queues, and as such need the reasonable adjustment of RAP. Look in other walks of life, and you have ramps, lifts, and other similar adjustments. I can't, with my lack of knowledge, understand what the parallel with an inability to cope with crowds would be.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
I'm curious:

A reason often cited for RAP is the inability to cope with crowds, or crowded situations. This leads me on to two thoughts: firstly, I don't think I've ever been in a queueline that feels 'crowded' - it feels like a queue. You have people in front and behind of you, but unless behaviour is poor (which granted, sometimes it is), they shouldn't be actively jostling you, or acutely invading your personal space.

Secondly, and perhaps more pertinently, if the density of people within a queue is difficult to cope with, how do individuals cope with the density of people around the rest of the park? Or at supermarkets, or elsewhere in general life?

This is almost certainly coming from my naivety, and I would love to be educated on it, but crowds are a part of life, and if they are a genuine reason for creating reasonable adjustments within specifically theme park ride queues, I would have imagined that there would be many, many other walks of life in which case reasonable adjustments would also need to be made, probably as a priority over theme park queuelines.

To compare to a different access need: those who are not ambulant may struggle with many different queues, and as such need the reasonable adjustment of RAP. Look in other walks of life, and you have ramps, lifts, and other similar adjustments. I can't, with my lack of knowledge, understand what the parallel with an inability to cope with crowds would be.
One of the reasons cited by Merlin parks for being eligible for the RAP is "being unable to understand the concept of queueing". Obviously that is quite a broad reason, but mostly concerns those with severe autism. Anyone unfamiliar with autism would probably assume that the guest was just being very impatient, which is not the case.

Ambulant disabilities are a difficult subject, because they don't completely prevent people from queueing (whereas someone in a wheelchair (non-ambulant) obviously cannot use narrow pathways or steps).
 
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