Ride Access Pass Systems and Disabled Access

I’m sorry @Benzin but I don’t agree.

The whole purpose of writing times on the RAP is so that you’re waiting the same time as guests in the main queues. If guests in the main queues are waiting for every ride, how is it fair that RAP holders should be allowed to get on to smaller rides during the time in which guests in the main queues are having to stand in line?

There’s plenty of options for things to be doing in between rides. If they can’t queue because of their disabilities, then of course they should be given a service where they’re taken out of standing in queues, but during that time between rides, they can sit down and relax in calmer places if they wish. They can get food if they wish. They can go in the arcades if they wish. Or they can go and wait near the rides until their time rolls around without being stuck in a claustrophobic queue.

You might say that the things which I’ve mentioned above aren’t particularly exciting, but neither is standing in a queue for an hour, yet that’s what non-RAP guests have to do.

RAP holders are being allowed to not stand and wait in a queue, which is the purpose of what the RAP was introduced for. Having a RAP should not mean that you get on more rides than someone without one. If RAP holders want a fastrack service, they still have the option of going to pay for fastrack, in the same way that non-RAP guests do.
 

Islander

TS Member
At Thorpe and Towers though, what do you do with that 45 minute wait (for example)?
Wait?

Go for a meal, look around the gardens, do anything that's distracting. Might not be a hugely fun activity, but then neither is queuing for those without RAP, and they have to wait in a queue. Arguably, if waiting is problematic for a person, and they visit an attraction where a portion of the day will always consist of waiting, then they should make plans to mitigate against that, i.e. bring books, videos on a tablet, board games, anything like that.

A RAP is designed to bring equality with non-disabled guests, not to elevate the experience above those that don't require RAP.

On a slightly different note, a good example posted yesterday on the MAP holders Facebook group showing just how misunderstood the whole system is:

1660467707124.png

Granted, in this case the issue is swiftly resolved by this individual not qualifying for a RAP, but it's a good example of the perception of the system.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Another reason RAP queues can get long is most rides only allow a set number of users on per train/cycle. That is for evac reasons of course.
Also, there are instances where RAP guests don't want to sit in the designated seats (back row for most coasters). That can lead to hold-ups.
 

Benzin

TS Member
I’m sorry @Benzin but I don’t agree.

The whole purpose of writing times on the RAP is so that you’re waiting the same time as guests in the main queues. If guests in the main queues are waiting for every ride, how is it fair that RAP holders should be allowed to get on to smaller rides during the time in which guests in the main queues are having to stand in line?

There’s plenty of options for things to be doing in between rides. If they can’t queue because of their disabilities, then of course they should be given a service where they’re taken out of standing in queues, but during that time between rides, they can sit down and relax in calmer places if they wish. They can get food if they wish. They can go in the arcades if they wish. Or they can go and wait near the rides until their time rolls around without being stuck in a claustrophobic queue.

You might say that the things which I’ve mentioned above aren’t particularly exciting, but neither is standing in a queue for an hour, yet that’s what non-RAP guests have to do.

RAP holders are being allowed to not stand and wait in a queue, which is the purpose of what the RAP was introduced for. Having a RAP should not mean that you get on more rides than someone without one. If RAP holders want a fastrack service, they still have the option of going to pay for fastrack, in the same way that non-RAP guests do.

Wait?

Go for a meal, look around the gardens, do anything that's distracting. Might not be a hugely fun activity, but then neither is queuing for those without RAP, and they have to wait in a queue. Arguably, if waiting is problematic for a person, and they visit an attraction where a portion of the day will always consist of waiting, then they should make plans to mitigate against that, i.e. bring books, videos on a tablet, board games, anything like that.

A RAP is designed to bring equality with non-disabled guests, not to elevate the experience above those that don't require RAP.

On a slightly different note, a good example posted yesterday on the MAP holders Facebook group showing just how misunderstood the whole system is:

1660467707124.png

Granted, in this case the issue is swiftly resolved by this individual not qualifying for a RAP, but it's a good example of the perception of the system.

I would say it's down to the parks to provide a range of entertainment choices to pass the time OR provide enough attractions that mean that queues aren't so long. That has been a problem at the Merlin parks beyond the RAP side of things (isn't this why Towers currently have a few fairground rides after all?)

Does it really matter if a wheelchair user can go on Marauders Mayhem whilst waiting for the time slot for Wickerman? Although on some days you can arrive at the queue at the correct time, wait 20 minutes to get to the front and then have the queue time added onto that. That is part of the failures of the system in its current guise and the way that some people abuse it.

I'd say someone with a broken leg (if they've received the injury after booking) should qualify for RAP. It's draining enough in queues as an able-bodied person, let alone having to hobble around Legoland.

The other alternative is making standard queuelines accessible friendly. They did this with Duel and people on here bemoaned the loss of the tilted room effect. They made a positive decision but people were upset. It made no sense.

We don't have a choice with parks, we have to use a wheelchair. Otherwise it causes problems for a number of days afterwards. Towers is difficult to traverse with a wheelchair on top of that. However we've visited other parks with no time out system and there's never been the same issues as you hear at Towers. Efteling is far busier and yet the only iffy ones there are Baron (due to the batching process it can be a wait if you time it badly) or Joris (only one side available, very much a poorly designed bolt on).

There's a cultural problem in the UK Merlin parks that result in these issues. However I don't believe only limiting the time outs on the bigger attractions is part of that problem. Especially when Towers is lacking support attractions in the first place.

Another reason RAP queues can get long is most rides only allow a set number of users on per train/cycle. That is for evac reasons of course.
Also, there are instances where RAP guests don't want to sit in the designated seats (back row for most coasters). That can lead to hold-ups.

And those are the people who are part of the "abuse" problem. If some people want to play the rules and kick up a fuss then they are quite clearly not using the RAP in the correct fashion (and probably abusing the staff as part of that).
 

Islander

TS Member
I would say it's down to the parks to provide a range of entertainment choices to pass the time OR provide enough attractions that mean that queues aren't so long. That has been a problem at the Merlin parks beyond the RAP side of things (isn't this why Towers currently have a few fairground rides after all?)
I don't think you're wrong, but as you kinda point out that's a problem completely aside from any issues with RAP.

As a non-RAP guest, I hate that I have to queue for ages to ride attractions, in dull queues with nothing to do. It's something Merlin absolutely need to work on, from two angles - improving the queuing experience, and decreasing the length of queues.

However, that needs to be done for ALL guests, RAP and non-RAP alike.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
And those are the people who are part of the "abuse" problem. If some people want to play the rules and kick up a fuss then they are quite clearly not using the RAP in the correct fashion (and probably abusing the staff as part of that).
Not necessarily; if someone is unable to understand the concept of queueing, they may not understand that they have to sit in a certain place.
 

Funcone

TS Member
I suppose in a way this illustrates the problem with the system. Because so many people are using it, on peak days the disabled queue can be thirty minutes or longer for the biggest rides, and that’s too long for the people with the most severe disabilities.

There may well be a small minority of people who genuinely can’t understand the concept or waiting or delayed gratification. But as Islander has alluded to, someone who can’t understand the concept of delayed gratification at all is going to struggle with every day life. It’d be difficult for them to use a bus or a train if they can’t understand the concept of waiting. Buying food and cooking a meal involves planning ahead and delayed gratification. How would you handle your own finances if you live life completely in the present? Someone who literally couldn’t understand the concept of waiting or delayed gratification is presumably someone who’ll never be capable of independent living or doing a job or managing their own money.

This is a very extreme example, but I agree that these people ought to be able to have fun and go to theme parks too. But these people are clearly a very small portion of the people using ride access passes and it simply isn’t practical to provide this kind of service for the large number of people who do. It's a really difficult situation, because it'd be very hard to provide different access passes for different disabilities, but you also can't provide instant access for people with more minor disabilities who don't actually need it, because there isn't enough capacity in the park for large numbers of people to have instant access to all the rides.
 

pluk

TS Member
riding other rides whilst waiting for your next RAP timeslot, which is actively promoted by the park

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.

For me, both of these things are absolutely insane. We surely can't look at the failings of fastrack in its current guise, to ask why it is such an oversubscribed system and why people see a reason to try to abuse it, without seeing that both of these things would drive that demand? Remove the advantage, reduce the demand.

Pretty much everyone I know personally, or I know within the community, that needs to use RAP has always said to me that they don't want an advantage, they don't want special treatment, they just want the same access as others. Benin's response here is one of the first I've ever seen that goes against that, and I can't agree with the sentiment with it.

The system should simply not allow you to be in multiple queues/rides at once, as soon as it does you don't have a system that facilitates equal access but one that gives the user a huge advantage, and we are back to the resulting demand not allowing access for the most in need at all.
 
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Squiggs

TS Team
For me, both of these things are absolutely insane. We surely can't look at the failings of fastrack in its current guise, to ask why it is such an oversubscribed system and why people see a reason to try to abuse it, without seeing that both of these things would drive that demand? Remove the advantage, reduce the demand.

It is probably worth mentioning that the rides available outside of the RAP system are basically all the rides that don't have a Fastrack option available - i.e. the rides in the park that don't really get queues anyway. I think you may be over estimating the appeal of Marauders Mayhem.

One thing I'm curious about is the basis for the argument that the system is oversubscribed. Is this notion based purely on the fact that rides get RAP queues, or have any figures been released that would suggest that a larger proportion of guests than should be expected are using RAP?

Obviously Merlin have decided to make changes to the system given the recent announcement, but I was wondering if there had been any indication if this was specifically related to better vetting of applications or if it was more to do with streamlining the system, given that the Access Card were already doing a large part of this work.
 

Funcone

TS Member
Even if a park thought that a system was being overused/misused I think it’s very unlikely they’d ever publicly say so. Apart from anything else, saying that your disabled policy gets abused a lot would encourage other people to abuse it, and would make everyone who is using it get treated with suspicion.

I don’t think many parks have even done their own internal research. They don’t want to open up that can of worms.

If you worked in a park, you would necessarily know whether someone genuinely had a disability, but you would get a sense of whether people were attempting to mis-use the system in other ways. For example, if the system says you can have four carers and people regularly turn up with more than four carers, you’d clearly know that this was happening. If this mainly happened at the beginning of the day it’d imply people didn’t understand how to use the policy. If it happened more or less evenly throughout the day it’d imply it was more deliberate. If you explained the system and people either didn’t seem interested in listening, or became aggressive it might also imply it was deliberate.

If the policy is that you have to write a time on a card when they ride your attraction, you know whether they have their card out ready, spend several minutes fumbling in their bag, or call you a jobsworth when you ask to see it.

Obviously anecdotal evidence isn’t the same as hard statistics. Just because someone’s not using the system how it’s supposed to be used, it doesn’t mean they haven’t got a genuine disability. Whether or not the system’s fair or reasonable is subjective. When you speak to people in the industry the general view seems to be that a high percentage of guests are deliberately mis-using the access passes, in the sense that they’re not following the official procedure. Knowing what percentage have a disability that genuinely makes it difficult for them to use the queue is very hard to say.
 
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pluk

TS Member
One thing I'm curious about is the basis for the argument that the system is oversubscribed. Is this notion based purely on the fact that rides get RAP queues, or have any figures been released that would suggest that a larger proportion of guests than should be expected are using RAP?

I think it speaks for itself that it is oversubscribed if the physical wait in line queue, after any return delay wait, is getting up to the 20-30 minute mark, which it is. This is clearly no use at all to someone who really can't wait in line.

Quite what sort of benchmark could ever be used to show more people than should be entitled are managing to get use I don't know. If the new outsourced application is more reliable I guess we might see eligibility fall, but I have my doubts...
 

Benzin

TS Member
Benin's response here is one of the first I've ever seen that goes against that, and I can't agree with the sentiment with it.

My point was regarding that if a park is going to enforce time outs on every attraction available, then there needs to be enough alternative things to do during this. Provide more entertainment options, additional attractions would also provide a more spread out guest number which in turn will decrease the queues. Not 100% how Europa do things on a disabled standpoint but if they did have a time out policy on the big rides there is at least a lot of things to pass the time.

Alternatively do what Walibi Holland do and make disabled people sit at the exit for the queuetime. However again the issue there is a lack of facilities for the duration (45 minutes sat on an empty exit platform isn't particularly well thought out), so parks would need to consider this aspect if implementing such a system.

Out of all the issues currently with RAP, being able to go on Hex without being timed out is down the bottom of the list. The staff abuse or misuse of it is the first step to fix.
 

tayspru

TS Member
When I visit a Merlin park, my experience is long crowded wait, attraction, long crowded wait, attraction - and so forth.

I’m all for someone skipping the crowded queue environment and waiting somewhere else if it is required for sensory or medical purposes, but why should that person also get access to additional ride experiences?
 

Craig

TS Administrator
Having alternative things to do other than queuing, be that virtually or physically is something that'd be nice to have and the park have made attempts to improve that with the events we've had across the season. However, doing that is ultimately a wider guest experience improvement rather than something that should be considered as a requirement for the RAP system to be amended. The sole reason for the pass to exist is to avoid physical queueing, extra entertainment etc is a service issue not an equal access issue.

RAP eligibility aside, I still feel the only way is a technical solution to the situation. As I mentioned back in May last year, there's a clear issue with RAP pass users "bunching up", for example during the likes of fireworks and Scarefest for dark rides. That results in an shockingly long queue, which ultimately should not exist if RAP queue time returns were handled properly, as the whole system exists solely for RAP users to avoid that. Simply manually adding the main queue time to a return time causes this, when instead an electronic system should really issue a time based on the main queue and take into account the number of RAP returnees arriving at specific times too. An electronic system should also enforce return times, ensuring that if a return slot is missed by say more than 10 minutes, then you're considered to have "left" the queue and that return time is invalid, you can't just turn up when you feel like it, in the same why that any other guest can't just cut back through the line after wandering off somewhere. If a ride breaks down, you're "kicked out" of the virtual queue and you queue for another ride again. In other words, you virtually do exactly what any other guest would do who was physically queuing - that is equal access.

Finally, as much as the RAP is referred to as a virtual queue in the explanation, I do feel the term should feature in the title of the service - that makes it very clear that it's the only thing it offers.
 
An electronic RAP system feels like it is the only way forward. The demand for RAPs is high enough that it would justify the investment, and I’m sure that staff don’t always enforce the return times because it’s not worth the hassle. Somehow an electronic system not allowing guests to turn up half an hour early seems less easy to argue with than a staff member looking at their watch and a time on a bit of card.
 

Rob F

TS Member
Trust me Lego and Chessington now use a electronic system and is subject to them bothering to scan you in, otherwise its the same as not filling in the rap card ….
 
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