Ride Access Pass Systems and Disabled Access

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I think RAP will forever be a very sensitive issue for parks to tackle. The parks are in a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario, as whatever they do will affect somebody.

If RAP is reduced or not implemented, then that ostracises the disabled community and people who need to use the RAP service, which they can’t really do.

If RAP is increased, then that risks grinding the main queues to a standstill, as well as ostracising those who’ve paid for Fastrack.

It’s a difficult one; I think the best way is trying to strike a perfect balance between the two. However, I appreciate that that is very difficult in practice, so if given the choice, it’s probably better that the parks gravitate slightly more towards RAP. People queueing in the main queue will probably understand why RAP guests are being prioritised over them, while people queueing in the RAP queue may have less concept of things like queueing, and might not be able to understand why the people from the main queue are allowed on before them.

I apologise if any of my thoughts in this topic have come across as lacking in empathy for RAP users, as that certainly wasn’t my intent. Being autistic (and often suspected to be dyspraxic) myself, I do sympathise with RAP users in many regards, even though I do not use RAP myself.
 

Islander

TS Member
It’s a difficult one; I think the best way is trying to strike a perfect balance between the two. However, I appreciate that that is very difficult in practice, so if given the choice, it’s probably better that the parks gravitate slightly more towards RAP.
I've literally zero idea what the percentage of RAP vs non-RAP users is, but simply for the sake of this argument let's say it's 15% vs 85%... so surely then the priority should be set as 15% RAP users vs 85% non-RAP?

Definitely shouldn't be aiming for a perfect balance, or anything near, unless of course my guess is wildly off and the ratio is indeed 50/50...
 

Nick🎢

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Spinball Whizzer 😒
Based on regularly standing in the queue to get the RAP first thing I would suspect, anecdotally, it's pretty tiny. As a percentage of all visitors that day.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I've literally zero idea what the percentage of RAP vs non-RAP users is, but simply for the sake of this argument let's say it's 15% vs 85%... so surely then the priority should be set as 15% RAP users vs 85% non-RAP?

Definitely shouldn't be aiming for a perfect balance, or anything near, unless of course my guess is wildly off and the ratio is indeed 50/50...
Oh lord no, I’m not suggesting that 50% of capacity needs to go towards RAP. Current ratios are considerably lower than that; even the fairly high RAP usage on Spinball was only 1/3 of capacity, and the other rides I watched were 20% or so, sometimes lower (Nemesis was only 1/8, or 12.5%). I think the main queues would barely move if 50% of capacity went towards RAP…

Sorry, I think I worded that badly. What I meant is that I think parks should try and strike a balance where the main queuers and Fastrackers are happy, but RAP users are happy as well, with no group being specifically prioritised over the others relative to the number of users in this group; RAP & FT have far fewer users than the main queues, so the allocation of capacity needs to be lower for RAP & FT than for the main queue for this to happen. But if pushed, the parks should probably give RAP slightly more priority, as the people in this group are less likely to deal well with being forced to wait longer and may not understand the concept of queueing and delayed gratification.
 
We have to consider the capacities of the rides as well. Chessington has, for years, really struggled to cope with the demand from the number of people using RAPs, and this is in part due to their substandard ride capacities, hence why it’s not uncommon to see full trains of RAP holders being sent on Vampire, something which at Thorpe for example, is something you’ll never see.
 

Nick🎢

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Spinball Whizzer 😒
And keeping in mind the RAP user has already queued virtually.

As I say - there is a system that works very, very well and it's in use at Legoland and now Chessington. There are RAP slots that open up every so often and get "sold out". This prevents RAP hurting the other queues too much. The only down side of it is RAP users have to honour the advertised queue time which is not always *ahem* accurate.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
We have to consider the capacities of the rides as well. Chessington has, for years, really struggled to cope with the demand from the number of people using RAPs, and this is in part due to their substandard ride capacities, hence why it’s not uncommon to see full trains of RAP holders being sent on Vampire, something which at Thorpe for example, is something you’ll never see.
Forgive me if I’m making a generalisation here, but I’d also wager that Chessington struggles more due to having more young families visiting than Thorpe & Alton. From my own experiences of having autism, I know that many of my autistic tendencies certainly weren’t managed as well when I was a younger child as they are now, so with that in mind, I can certainly imagine that more young children use RAP than older children & adults.

Thorpe and Alton struggle less due to having less young children visiting, while Legoland struggles less due to having a different RAP system.

I could be completely wrong there, but that’s just my thought.
 

Benzin

TS Member
I'm enjoying this increasing use of the term 'normals'.

At what point would it be fair for us 'normals' to start feeling discriminated against?

When the world stops allowing abled people to traverse it easily then sure you can.

I mean to get to McDonald's yesterday I had to take the wheelchair through the roads around the car park because there weren’t any ramps in the pedestrianised area. I'd never realised until then as usually only go on my own but we had to get prescriptions for wife so had to go in wheelchair rather than drive.

If only the worst part of one's day was to be called "normal".
 
Forgive me if I’m making a generalisation here, but I’d also wager that Chessington struggles more due to having more young families visiting than Thorpe & Alton. From my own experiences of having autism, I know that many of my autistic tendencies certainly weren’t managed as well when I was a younger child as they are now, so with that in mind, I can certainly imagine that more young children use RAP than older children & adults.

Thorpe and Alton struggle less due to having less young children visiting, while Legoland struggles less due to having a different RAP system.

I could be completely wrong there, but that’s just my thought.

I’d definitely agree that Chessington, from my experience of working there, has more RAP uptake than the other parks. This coupled with low capacity rides, really makes for a miserable experience for everyone.

The only people I’d blame for this are Merlin management for failing to:

a) manage the RAP system correctly over the years to prevent it from getting out of control, and,

b) relying on low capacity rides and doing nothing to address the park’s overall capacity issues. The fact that the Jumanji coaster is going to get, at best 600 per hour, is frankly pathetic for a park as popular as Chessington.

I don’t, for one moment blame the RAP users. Merlin have, as usual, created their own problems.
 

Alastair

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Indiana Jones Adventure
One can only dream that they can address the Nemesis RAP situation during the retrack works. I daresay it's been at least 5 if not more years since I managed to ride it on row 8 (the prime seat) because there is always an enormous queue heading down the exit ramp that not only exclusively hogs this row, but also constantly blocks half of the exit space for riders leaving.

Please for the love of God fix the mess!
 

Nick🎢

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Spinball Whizzer 😒
Nemesis had RAP queue extension barriers in place! The irony being the actual queue was advertised at 20 but was less than 5 (about 10m outside the station door). In other words for those with sensory challenges (in my anecdotal observation, the majority of RAP users) that could walk the queue line, RAP was going to have them queue longer.

They know RAP is now heavily subscribed as they have moved it out of the box office and up to a guest services building hard right as you come through the gate. The queue for that was down to the coffee shop at one point.

It's a complex and sensitive situation. Spoken as a RAP carer who would be excluded from most park visits if we didn't have it - I have to be frank, if you can queue for 45 minutes, in the smiler room of all places... (People were told the wait time at the front entrance). There maybe a bit of reflection there to be had. The main queue was advertised at 60 so was more than likely comparable.

There are likely a few reasons RAP is so heavily used now.

- awareness of the service.
- awareness of challenges (previously many of the kids would have just been put down as naughty etc).
- environment (food supply, toxins etc)
- people on the spectrum are often drawn to engineering with a motion element (trains, planes, f1, coasters...) These kids are pretty isolated from society so spent all their time watching YT, getting into parks etc.
- a day out with RAP is one of the few things you can do, many other environments are not accomodating.

As a start I would love to see the LL digital system rolled out. It's fair, equitable and and quick. It solves the issue of RAP not actually being usable for the most in need because there is a queue as long as the main queue (and they have already waited an hour or whatever virtually!!!).

As an extension, I totally agree virtual queueing throughout would be a game changer. Think of the benefits..

- creates brownfield space for support attractions as shorter physical queues would be in place.

- additional spend as people would actually enjoy the brilliant octoberfest entertainment, have a beer, hotdog etc instead of being in a queue somewhere.

- more enjoyable day and likelyhood of positive reviews / a return.

Challenges...

WiFi required throughout the park (lots of dead spots currently for 4g).

How do you deal with breakdowns etc when people have booked a slot?

Ops need to be consistent.

Is there some psychological difference between virtual and physical queueing. I.e. not knowing how accurate the queue is.. is that different to having a firm black and white ride time?

The GP might lose that anticipation etc not standing for an hour watching that scary ride go around.
 
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Benzin

TS Member
One can only dream that they can address the Nemesis RAP situation during the retrack works. I daresay it's been at least 5 if not more years since I managed to ride it on row 8 (the prime seat) because there is always an enormous queue heading down the exit ramp that not only exclusively hogs this row, but also constantly blocks half of the exit space for riders leaving.

Please for the love of God fix the mess!

Unlikely since back row will forever be reserved for RAP guests, even if they create a separate queue system for it.
 

Nick🎢

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Spinball Whizzer 😒
Unlikely since back row will forever be reserved for RAP guests, even if they create a separate queue system for it.
I am not so sure. Though I think in Nemies case yes. Is FP the back row too?

The LL system just presents what is a FP / booked slot ticket at the right time so most are just treated like anyone else with those. I don't know if that would get us away from dedicated back rows etc. Which in a way, while operationally efficient, is discriminatory as they don't have the opertinities others have etc. Eg front row rides. Some might prefer a less intense row. Sounds very entitled but it is usual for kids with challenges to have very fixed feelings on certain things that can write off a day. For example refusing to ride in the back half of a particular ride after hearing it's rough at the back on a vlog.
 

Sambiasso

TS Member
I am not so sure. Though I think in Nemies case yes. Is FP the back row too?

The LL system just presents what is a FP / booked slot ticket at the right time so most are just treated like anyone else with those. I don't know if that would get us away from dedicated back rows etc. Which in a way, while operationally efficient, is discriminatory as they don't have the opertinities others have etc. Eg front row rides. Some might prefer a less intense row. Sounds very entitled but it is usual for kids with challenges to have very fixed feelings on certain things that can write off a day. For example refusing to ride in the back half of a particular ride after hearing it's rough at the back on a vlog.
In my experience Nemmy, Galatica, Thirteen are always back row rides. Oblivion is always front row, seats 1 & 2 nearest the RAP entrance. The rest of the rides we get seated whichever airgate we're placed in.
 
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