Ride Access Pass Systems and Disabled Access

imanautie

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.
Same as societies attitude towards disabled people in general, it's not always conscious prejudice either.
 
I don’t think that the general feeling is that people are abusing or cheating the system, or at least they aren’t deliberately abusing it.

What is very clear however, is that in the past 5-8 years, the RAP system at Merlin parks has got out of control.

The sheer volume of people using RAPs has increased hugely, whilst the overall number of park guests has remained fairly stagnant. We’re now frequently seeing full trains of RAP holders on Vampire for example (there’s even a pre-recorded announcement for it) when it used to be sufficient to only fill the back couple of rows with them.

There has to be a reason why the RAP system has got to the point where the parks’ rides can’t handle the volume of RAP holders they’re getting. And it’s for this reason that the system has to be looked at carefully to ensure that only the people who actually need it are using it, and to ensure that it isn’t viewed as a ‘free fastrack’ service.

This process has already started to be fair. Chessington removing the 45 minute cap and requiring staff on every ride to write a time, as well as the removal of the RAP service for people with temporary injuries for example are all positive moves.

I don’t think anyone on here is suggesting that people with disabilities shouldn’t be accommodated. What people want is an efficient and well implemented access system which is fair for everyone (those using it and those who are not). As stated above, Merlin parks are now making improvements although these improvements do seem somewhat too little, too late.
 

pluk

TS Member
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.

Those things would of course be very welcomed for everyone, but I don't really see the relevance in terms of RAP. Surely the adjustment is not having to physically wait in line when you can't? Those standing in Smiller pit aren't exactly being entertained either!

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.

Both need fixing. If a RAP user can do another couple of rides while waiting virtually they are going to get three times as much done in a day. That can't be right. That will also drive demand for the service, and if fewer people were using it it would work much better for those in need of it.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Both need fixing. If a RAP user can do another couple of rides while waiting virtually they are going to get three times as much done in a day. That can't be right. That will also drive demand for the service, and if fewer people were using it it would work much better for those in need of it.
Not necessarily, RAP queues can be pretty big (even longer than the main queue sometimes) due to the maximum non-ambulant guest restrictions (most coasters only allow 1 or 2 per train).
 

Benzin

TS Member
Those things would of course be very welcomed for everyone, but I don't really see the relevance in terms of RAP. Surely the adjustment is not having to physically wait in line when you can't? Those standing in Smiller pit aren't exactly being entertained either!



Both need fixing. If a RAP user can do another couple of rides while waiting virtually they are going to get three times as much done in a day. That can't be right. That will also drive demand for the service, and if fewer people were using it it would work much better for those in need of it.

Second part could easily be a description of Fastrack (which comes with its own issues of fairness). Perhaps considering the thought process of many that RAP equals "Free Fastrack" the parks should consider a reversal back to actually having it for free (and pigs might fly).

That apparently Chessie had a cap (never existed when I worked there but then again usage was minimal and I often had to explain it to the guests because GS were useless) says more to me about how the parks have allowed misuse and making moves to prevent the abuse via PR fear.

When Legoland first went to the Q-Bot system a lot of people who used the RAP started moaning because suddenly they couldn't game the system anymore. And through inaction Merlin have backed themselves into such a corner that any strict implementation they could/should bring in will result in negative PR that they don't want to deal with.

Therefore we end up in a situation where nobody is happy and stuck with an unfit for purpose scheme. Even when other parks seem to operate fairly well without a timed system in place.

In terms of the queues, there's definitely a problem when people seem to turn up at the correct time, wait 30 minutes (for example) to get to the ride host, then get the 60 minute queue added to their card. Definitely no advantage in that nor is it equal, but again that's down to poor management from the park.

As I've said (numerous times as well), the first steps for the park is to actually implement their own rules correctly. Provide staff with assistance with any dodgy guests (again, pigs might fly considering Towers). Come up with ways to reduce ways of gaming the system (wristbands to digital is probably the way to go there).

Implement these rather simple things (and ignore anyone crying about it, because I'd wager most honest RAP users wouldn't care) and it almost instantly solves a lot of problems.

Then inevitably causes further problems by loads of people then buying Fastrack to fill the hole in which their ride counts have gone down the drain.
 

pluk

TS Member
I've said for a long time, any concern about a PR storm could be easily weathered and positively spun by admitting and showing that the current system does not help those in need and a new one does. That would give them a bit of scope to quite radical with it rather than nudging along what they already have.
 

imanautie

TS Member
Second part could easily be a description of Fastrack (which comes with its own issues of fairness). Perhaps considering the thought process of many that RAP equals "Free Fastrack" the parks should consider a reversal back to actually having it for free (and pigs might fly).

That apparently Chessie had a cap (never existed when I worked there but then again usage was minimal and I often had to explain it to the guests because GS were useless) says more to me about how the parks have allowed misuse and making moves to prevent the abuse via PR fear.

When Legoland first went to the Q-Bot system a lot of people who used the RAP started moaning because suddenly they couldn't game the system anymore. And through inaction Merlin have backed themselves into such a corner that any strict implementation they could/should bring in will result in negative PR that they don't want to deal with.

Therefore we end up in a situation where nobody is happy and stuck with an unfit for purpose scheme. Even when other parks seem to operate fairly well without a timed system in place.

In terms of the queues, there's definitely a problem when people seem to turn up at the correct time, wait 30 minutes (for example) to get to the ride host, then get the 60 minute queue added to their card. Definitely no advantage in that nor is it equal, but again that's down to poor management from the park.

As I've said (numerous times as well), the first steps for the park is to actually implement their own rules correctly. Provide staff with assistance with any dodgy guests (again, pigs might fly considering Towers). Come up with ways to reduce ways of gaming the system (wristbands to digital is probably the way to go there).

Implement these rather simple things (and ignore anyone crying about it, because I'd wager most honest RAP users wouldn't care) and it almost instantly solves a lot of problems.

Then inevitably causes further problems by loads of people then buying Fastrack to fill the hole in which their ride counts have gone down the drain.
RE the full wait timeout after queing to get checked, loqueue seems to (at least at CWOA) be configured with different waits for reserve and ride Vs rap.

But it's typical merlin, they don't put the it investment to improve guest experience where it's asked for.
 

AstroDan

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
RAP discriminates against guests with mobility issues or cannot queue.

It is shocking to see wheelchair users or those with chronic needs in a huge long line with those who could perfectly well wait.

The new third party accreditation must address this discrimination.

Sent from my SM-G991B using Tapatalk
 

Nick🎢

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Spinball Whizzer 😒
Hi all - long time lurker first time poster.

Would just like to iterate a few facts others have pointed out because RAP seems to get an unjustified bad .. well .. rap.

- They are not given out like sweets. To qualify documentation has to be shown which means the entitled person is recognised as having the given challenge by the health and benefits system. Be aware - it is often a tough slog to have needs recognised.

- RAP holders do wait, just not in the queue. In all transparency on average you can get a bit more done in your time than you otherwise would have but it isn't fast pass by any stretch. The bigger picture should be taken into account with that statement though. For example it's common for people who need RAP not to be able to cope with a full day on park.

I appreciate it's going to be an emotive topic. When people have been waiting in a queue for a long time and they see somebody using RAP it's only natural that the inner lizard brain is frustrated with the situation. We even see examples in this thread where RAP users are frustrated with others using the service. Given the above, especially around hidden disabilities - I would always be purposeful in assuming if somebody is using RAP they need and deserve it. It's quite disheartening to see statements like "those that could perfectly well queue". I have to be blunt - it's quite narrow minded to make that type of view of somebody by looking at them for 10 seconds. We have no idea what the rest of that hour or day looked like. There will always be anecdotal examples of people gaming the system etc but that is an extreme monitory and not really a fair view of the RAP users as a whole.
 
Hi @NickB, I agree with most of what you’ve said and certainly agree that RAPs aren’t given our like sweets, not anymore at least.

There was a time when it was much easier to get a RAP. Back about 10 years ago, for example, my friend chanced it at Chessington when she had a temporary foot injury, which was only very mild, but she was able to get a pass with no proof, no documentation, nothing. Clearly Merlin have come a long way since then, but they’ve had to do this in response to the high volume of use, and the system therefore getting out of control. Some would say, a victim of its own success.

You’re right that, in theory, people are still waiting the same time as people in the main queue, however a big issue is with staff not writing the full queue time on the RAP, or in some cases just waving people through when batching because filling it out is too time consuming. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen this happen. And as we’ve mentioned, for it to be fair, staff should have to write a time for every ride, not just the popular ones. Chessington brought this change in for 2018, but the other parks don’t seem to have followed.

Overall, as I keep saying, nobody is saying we should ditch the RAP system and nobody is claiming that mass numbers of people are abusing the system (well at least I’m not anyway) but it is sadly an inadequate and inefficient system, and nobody is really to blame for this except the park management teams who have allowed it to get this way over the years.
 
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Nick🎢

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Spinball Whizzer 😒
however a big issue is with staff not writing the full queue time on the RAP, or in some cases just waving people through when batching because filling it out is too time consuming. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen this happen.
This.

It seems odd because Legoland has an e-system and from the one time we have used it, it works very well and is very "fair". Its also in advance so you are not getting that first ride "free" and you also know what time you are committing to upfront which is a better user experience. From my perspective too it essentially looks like a fast track to the attended so there is the dignity element for those with hidden disabilities too.

You are bang on about staff not completing the card correctly. That is totally a thing. Early this year we did a weekend at Thorpe and they were either not completing it or just adding a token 10-20 minutes etc. Generally found towers are pretty on policy with it. Chessington mixed - all obviously small sample size first hand experience, anecdotal etc.
 

Islander

TS Member
It seems odd because Legoland has an e-system and from the one time we have used it, it works very well and is very "fair". Its also in advance so you are not getting that first ride "free" and you also know what time you are committing to upfront which is a better user experience. From my perspective too it essentially looks like a fast track to the attended so there is the dignity element for those with hidden disabilities too.
Chessington of course adopted the same system this year - can only hope that it goes on to be implemented at Towers and Thorpe.
 

Meister71

TS Member
Hi all - long time lurker first time poster.

Would just like to iterate a few facts others have pointed out because RAP seems to get an unjustified bad .. well .. rap.

- They are not given out like sweets. To qualify documentation has to be shown which means the entitled person is recognised as having the given challenge by the health and benefits system. Be aware - it is often a tough slog to have needs recognised.

- RAP holders do wait, just not in the queue. In all transparency on average you can get a bit more done in your time than you otherwise would have but it isn't fast pass by any stretch. The bigger picture should be taken into account with that statement though. For example it's common for people who need RAP not to be able to cope with a full day on park.

I appreciate it's going to be an emotive topic. When people have been waiting in a queue for a long time and they see somebody using RAP it's only natural that the inner lizard brain is frustrated with the situation. We even see examples in this thread where RAP users are frustrated with others using the service. Given the above, especially around hidden disabilities - I would always be purposeful in assuming if somebody is using RAP they need and deserve it. It's quite disheartening to see statements like "those that could perfectly well queue". I have to be blunt - it's quite narrow minded to make that type of view of somebody by looking at them for 10 seconds. We have no idea what the rest of that hour or day looked like. There will always be anecdotal examples of people gaming the system etc but that is an extreme monitory and not really a fair view of the RAP users as a whole.

Exactly this - this is so spot on. A few people might "game" the system but it's not my experience at Merlin parks. Chessington and Legoland have the app RAP and this means you don't get more done than other people queuing in the main lines. I do think some of this - RAP users are getting a better experience than us nonsense is both envy and abhorrent. I would say as earlier that 90 per cent of RAP users are using the access both fairly and within the rules (of course there will be some who abuse it, just like other queue jumpers).
 

Meister71

TS Member
This.

It seems odd because Legoland has an e-system and from the one time we have used it, it works very well and is very "fair". Its also in advance so you are not getting that first ride "free" and you also know what time you are committing to upfront which is a better user experience. From my perspective too it essentially looks like a fast track to the attended so there is the dignity element for those with hidden disabilities too.

You are bang on about staff not completing the card correctly. That is totally a thing. Early this year we did a weekend at Thorpe and they were either not completing it or just adding a token 10-20 minutes etc. Generally found towers are pretty on policy with it. Chessington mixed - all obviously small sample size first hand experience, anecdotal etc.
Chessington also have en e-system - when we there earlier this week the RAP queues when actually waiting were as long as the standard queue but slightly easier as the area was not as crowded for kids with MH issues so easier to deal with. I literally did not see one person/group who I would assess did not need the RAP queue but perhaps I am more attuned to seeing what to others are "normal" kids but are in fact kids that need assistance.

Chessington of course adopted the same system this year - can only hope that it goes on to be implemented at Towers and Thorpe.
I think this is a fairer system for everyone - disabled and abled - do you think if the e-system was implemented at Towers (our most local park) that this thread can become mostly redundant?
 
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