Ride Access Pass Systems and Disabled Access

Funcone

TS Member
Trying to tighten up on the ride access passes is clearly a minefield, with a lot of opportunities for bad publicity, or for genuinely disabled guests to lose out. Getting rid of the parent swaps seems like a logical thing to do. There will be guests who used it properly, who will be understandably disappointed. Nonetheless, it was such an easy system to abuse and the number of people coming up the exit was difficult to manage. It has also made the main queues incredibly slow on busy days. Queuing is clearly still a big problem, but it sounds like a small step in the right direction.
 

Meister71

TS Member
Wow - my son has ADHD/Autism - he finds it very difficult to queue. There are what I would call some proper Tory views on this thread. If people are abusing RAP then it's up to the parks to sort out. BUT some kids and older people really struggle and to make out ALL (as some seem to think) people are abusing the system is pretty disgusting to me. I am taking my son on Sunday to AT - I won't go on many rides with him as he is going with a friend so I will let them ride together rather than taking up someone elses place in the queue. Without RAP we wouldn't be able to go to theme parks as he couldn't cope/it would be no fun. I get the abuse of the system thing but I bet that is less than 10 per cent of people - BPB has more abuse imho.
 

Benzin

TS Member
Paultons are far more stringent with their pass. Qualified nurse checks you over and even if/once you qualify you can only use it once on each ride. Get timed out too if you're ambulant.

It's weird but at least has a method of preventing abuse.

Them, Blackpool and Mingo also only have 1 carer maximum. Which works in a way but not sure how it works as a family. Though Mingo don't care sometimes (is that surprising?)
 

rob666

TS Member
Blackpool you can add up to three others on the basic for a fiver each.
Not sure if that is as well as the (free) carer.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Blackpool you can add up to three others on the basic for a fiver each.
Not sure if that is as well as the (free) carer.
You can add up to 2 additional carers for £5 each.

How many people can I bring with me on the rides?

The EasyPass service allows the EasyPass Wristband wearer, and one other person to enter the ride via the exit or Speedy Pass gate, as described above. Up to an additional 2 guests can be added for £5 per person.
 

rob666

TS Member
The additions aren't carers, you can only have one carer, and they must be with you at registration.
The others are just group "additions", numbered on the card.
A right old faff that meant two long queues, with insufficient staff, so we just ended up doing the normal queues as they were far shorter, and quicker, than the pass queue at the entrance and Guest Services!
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
The additions aren't carers, you can only have one carer, and they must be with you at registration.
The others are just group "additions", numbered on the card.
A right old faff that meant two long queues, with insufficient staff, so we just ended up doing the normal queues as they were far shorter, and quicker, than the pass queue at the entrance and Guest Services!
Ahh I see, fair enough. It's definitely just two though.

On my last visit to the Beach in 2019 it was fairly busy but not overly so, and I didn't have to use my pass at all. Most waits were below 30 mins If I remember correctly.
 

Alsty

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Shambhala
BUT some kids and older people really struggle and to make out ALL (as some seem to think) people are abusing the system is pretty disgusting to me.
Find me a quote where people are suggesting all people are abusing the system.

As a genuine user of RAP, surely you want a system that is fit for purpose, which clearly it currently is not?
 
.Without RAP we wouldn't be able to go to theme parks as he couldn't cope/it would be no fun. I get the abuse of the system thing but I bet that is less than 10 per cent of people - BPB has more abuse imho.
Nobody here has said rap should be abolished and I doubt the service will be going anywhere so I don’t think you need to worry. It’s good that it exists, to allow people like your son to have a good time at theme parks.

Thing is though, when rap does get abused it makes the theme park experience less fun for everyone else, which I’m sure isn’t it’s intention. Rap and other systems exist to level the playing field, not give an advantage to some over others. If people want that they should pay for fast track. I have no problem waiting a few extra minutes for someone with mobility issues to get safely into their seat on a ride or for someone with a cognitive disability taking a minute to pluck up the courage to get on, for example. I do have issues with rap being used and seen by some as a ‘free fast track’ system that will help them get on more rides than queueing in stand by. That mentality needs to stop. Maybe merlin could put on all their RAP correspondence that it’s not free fast track in big bold letters to ensure people know this. Maybe they already do I don’t know.
 

Squiggs

TS Team
Not one single person has said this. So what is your point?

I think it is fair to say that if you were a user of RAP reading this thread, it would be hard not to feel somewhat attacked. The language being used by a lot of folk in this thread is not particularly measured. Not least because some of the examples of 'abuse' that have been highlighted are actually legitimate uses of the system (e.g. riding other rides whilst waiting for your next RAP timeslot, which is actively promoted by the park).

Accessibility is a sensitive topic at the best of times, so can everyone try to be a little less 'on the attack'. It is fine to critique the RAP system and areas of the system you feel could be improved, but please try to avoid sweeping statements about users of the system and whatever access needs they might have or why they might have those access needs.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
I think it is fair to say that if you were a user of RAP reading this thread, it would be hard not to feel somewhat attacked. The language being used by a lot of folk in this thread is not particularly measured. Not least because some of the examples of 'abuse' that have been highlighted are actually legitimate uses of the system (e.g. riding other rides whilst waiting for your next RAP timeslot, which is actively promoted by the park).
Yeah I think people are forgetting that not every ride at Towers gives a time. You can ride the ones that don't via the exit as many times as you like.

The rides covered by the pass (and so give a time) are;

Peter Rabbit Hippity Hop, Gangsta Granny: The Ride, Wicker Man, Runaway Mine Train, Congo River Rapids, Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride, Get! Set! Go! Tree Top Adventure, In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, Postman Pat Parcel Post, Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure, Hex - The Legend of the Towers, Galactica, Nemesis, Spinball Whizzer, Rita, Oblivion, TH13TEEN and The Smiler.

(source: https://www.altontowers.com/plan-yo...ty/accessibility-theme-park/ride-access-pass/)
 
Last edited:

BarryZola

TS Member
A member above mentioned that a family member may not cope or would not find it fun if they had to wait in queues. I have to say that to be honest if there are queues of an hour plus I really don't find it fun to wait in them and it pretty much ruins my day. I can actually wait in them if I want to, but I havn't for years as it's not enjoyable. I just don't go on busy days any more. The thing is, I have been diagnosed with severe anxiety by my doctor in the last few years (generalised anxiety). Should I go and apply for a RAP now as I don't like queueing and I have had a diagnosis in the last few years? Would I need a note from the doctor?
 
Last edited:

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
A member above mentioned that a family member may not cope or would not find it fun if they had to wait in queues. I have to say that to be honest if there are queues of an hour plus I really don't find it fun to wait in them and it pretty much ruins my day. I can actually wait in them if I want to, but I havn't for years as it's not enjoyable. I just don't go on busy days any more. The thing is, I have been diagnosed with severe anxiety by my doctor in the last few years (generalised anxiety). Should I go and apply for a RAP now as I don't like queueing and I have had a diagnosis in the last few years? Would I need a note from the doctor?
A doctor's letter (on official, headed paper) would be accepted, as long as it states that your anxiety is the reason you are unable to queue normally. A letter just stating your diagnosis would not be sufficient.

Edit: it may have changed, as doctor's letter is not mentioned on the list. I would advise contacting the park to ask.

 

Funcone

TS Member
It is a sensitive area, and saying that certainly doesn’t entitle to you to then follow it up with something that’s completely insensitive. At the same time, the fact it’s a sensitive area is partly what people are exploiting when they ‘abuse’ the system. Sensitive areas often do create the most interesting discussions, because if everyone agrees with each other, or doesn’t really care, it’s not a very interesting debate. Also, I do think with difficult subjects it is important to talk about them.

It’s a particularly difficult area for Merlin, because Merlin’s Magic Wand is their company charity, and a lot of their positive PR is based around supporting people with disabilities.

Let’s be honest, Merlin haven’t always been the nicest company. They are a company that has been known for stretching zero hour contracts, treating staff as disposable etc. They are a company that has stifled competition, particularly around certain cities such as London. They are a company that has sometimes had some interesting tax arrangements. Merlin’s Magic Wand is the main thrust of their PR programme, so if they’re getting criticised by disabled guests, that doesn’t look good. I’m not saying that Merlin don’t genuinely care about disabled people, or that Merlin’s Magic Wand don’t do any good work, but Merlin’s Magic Wand is there to create a certain impression of the company.

But there is another side to this. You’ve got people on minimum wage, zero hour contracts, who are often young, operating these rides. In many cases they’re on their own at a ride with a 45 minute queue. That’s putting the staff under a lot of pressure. You’ve got these disabled queues, where guests often aren’t following the rules, whether that’s trying to bring on more carers than they’re supposed to have, not wanting to have a card signed, trying to get on a ride before it’s their slot, or carers trying to ride without the disabled guest who’s meant to be there. These staff have no say in setting the policy, and often they’re told they need disability awareness training when they’re just trying to do their jobs.

Trying to enforce these rules is difficult. It’s very easy for guests to accuse staff of discrimination, when they’re simply trying to follow the rules they’ve been trained on. Guests also know that there’s a 45 minute queue, and that staff can’t afford to spend too long arguing because there are 45 minute’s worth of agitated people who could kick off at any moment.

Of course, people shouldn’t be discriminated against for being disabled, but I think pretending there isn’t a problem isn’t right either. Staff shouldn’t be bullied into letting people break the rules.

Quite a few people have commented on staff not enforcing the rules, but this might tell you something about how many of them have been threatened or assaulted when they’ve tried to, or how quick managers can be to throw staff under the bus when guests accuse them of discrimination.

I think a lot of the issues are outside Merlin’s control. Clearly there does need to be a system to allow people with disabilities the opportunity to ride these attractions. It is sad that there do seem to be a lot of people abusing it, or seeing it as an opportunity to queue jump.
 
I agree that Merlin have allowed the system to get out of control, and the steps that they’ve taken to address this in recent years are too little, too late.

Look at the system which Chessington had prior to 2018:

- Only the top 7 rides put return times on the RAP, so on every other ride, the RAP was essentially a free fastrack service

- On the top 7 rides where they did write the times, the staff were told that they had to cap the time that they wrote, at 45 minutes, regardless of how long it was, so while people in the main queue could be stood there for 2 hours, RAP holders got on in 45 minutes

Both of the above were official rules and were written into policy. Now you try to justify either of the above as fair and inclusive for everyone, because I think you’ll have a tough time trying to argue that’s, in any way, fair.

It wasn’t until 2018 when (thank god), the system was changed, and now Chessington staff write the times for every ride and don’t have to cap it.

My understanding is that Thorpe and Alton still only write the times on selected rides. Again, how is this in any way fair to people in the main queues for the rides which don’t write times?
 

Benzin

TS Member
Blackpool you can add up to three others on the basic for a fiver each.
Not sure if that is as well as the (free) carer.

That's such a Blackpool thing. Not that we're planning to go back anytime soon with the forthcoming baby but still.

My understanding is that Thorpe and Alton still only write the times on selected rides. Again, how is this in any way fair to people in the main queues for the rides which don’t write times?

What are disabled people meant to do with their time outside of rides at these parks though? Chessie at least has the zoo as a fairly good distraction for those who require it, but then again considering that they let the likes of Seastorm and Truckers get Fastrack and ridiculous queues in the first place.

Was never told to cap it but I worked there before there was a multitude of people using it. The parks not using their own system correctly has definitely contributed to the issues surrounding it today. But I'm not sure that putting a time on every attraction is necessarily the right answer unless everything has over 30 minutes of queue (which at Chessie happens a lot granted). But you also need to provide things for the guests who are having to wait if this is the system you're going to follow.

At Thorpe and Towers though, what do you do with that 45 minute wait (for example)? There's not enough alternative activities available so might as well let disabled guests ride the teacups multiple times (not like Thorpe care enough to have working lifts on their rides anyway).
 
Top