How Water World Became Colorado’s Only ‘Autism Certified’ Theme Park
Having a child or other family member on the 'autism scale can make nearly any family excursion a tremendous challenge. Water World has stepped up to meet the challenge.
I don't have any family members with autism, so I would have no idea what it takes to ensure that a person with Autism has the best time possible while at a theme park. It's estimated that more than 70,000 people in Colorado have autism, so it is something that attractions should be looking at.
Recently, Water World had a day celebrating the certification they received in 2020 as a 'Certified Autism Center.'
Water World has 51 attractions, so it's hard to imagine which ones might be a problem for a person with Autism. One of the items that Water World has introduced is a 40+ page resource guide for guests with cognitive disabilities (including Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] which, as a part, describes each 'ride' and notes each ride's 'Sensory Stiumulation' rating on a scale of 1-10 on five main factors when it comes to autism-friendliness:
For example, The Peaks (where you climb up a tower to slide down three different slides) has three of the five categories rated at 6 or higher; with splashing, potentially screaming kids, dark tunnels, and other items, that may set off a 'meltdown' for a patron with autism. This information is very helpful in determining what rides to go on, and which to avoid.
Another reason that Water World is Austim Certified, is that those with ASD can get a 'fast pass' to advance to the beginning of a line, again, avoiding sensory 'overload.'
One very thoughtful item that Water World introduced is a low-sensory room where those suffering from stimulation overload can take a break, along with their family.
According to CBS4 Denver, Water World took the time that they weren't open in 2020 to implement the additions to the park. By doing so, the park now meets the requirements to be Cerfified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards IBCCES:
- Dedicated to Serving Individuals with Autism
- At Least 80% of Gues-Facing Staff Trained and Certified in Autism
- Committed to Ongoing Training and Accessibility
- On-Site Review by IBCCES
What theme park in Colorado would you like to be the next to achieve certification?
[Source: CBS4 Denver]
I spoke with Lea Ann Paskvalich from the Autism Society of Colorado about the certification; she would like to remind folks of the upcoming Walk for Autism and Resource Fair coming up on September 18, 2021, at Berkeley Park in Denver.