There are a few things in this world that are uniquely “American,” from deep-fried foods to country music to the film industry—but one of the most “American” things we can think of is the theme park.
Sure, we might not have as many theme parks per capita as England – random, right? – but the ones that we do have are, without a doubt, the most famous in the entire world. They are designed to appeal to both the young and the young-at-heart, and are practically considered historic landmarks in our relatively-new country.
Having said that, not every theme park is created with all types of people in mind. Take guests with autism, for instance. The hyper-colorful, often extraordinarily loud nature of these spaces sweeps most kids up into a sort of sensory overload. For little ones with autism, that reality can sway their parents into keeping them home instead.
Luckily, Sesame Place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania caught wind of this common issue and has even made the necessary changes to ensure that each and every one of its guests can enjoy the park equally.
According to the Sesame Place website, the theme park is the first and only in the world to carry a Certified Autism Center seal. This means that a vast majority of the team members that work at the park have received special training in the areas which most affect guests with autism, like sensory and emotional awareness, communication, motor skills, and social skills.
This special employee training was delivered by an organization called the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, which provides courses for businesses who strive to meet the needs of all of their guests.
Along with the specially-trained employees, Sesame Place is also offering a host of detailed guides for parents with children who have been diagnosed with autism. These guides clue them in on what rides and attractions may or may not be suitable for their children—and even give the parents alternative options for their families to better experience what the park has to offer.
For instance, Sesame Place has come up with “low-sensory” ways for these guests to enjoy parades, their meals, or even quiet breaks within the park. For children who may be particularly rattled by loud noises, the park even hands out free noise-canceling headphones on a first-come, first-serve basis.
But, the best part? Sesame Place has added one of Sesame Street’s newest additions, a character and adorable puppet named Julia, a 4-year-old girl with autism that each and every guest can meet. How cool is that?!
We are so happy to hear that Sesame Place is setting such a great example in the theme park world. We hope that its competitors will quickly follow suit. To learn even more about this special program and when it will be available to guests, be sure to watch the video below!
We’d love to hear your take on this inclusive initiative. Do you have a child with autism? If so, do you think that Sesame Place’s new program will be helpful to them? Do you think more theme parks will follow in its footsteps?