MASON, OH (FOX19) - The Yuskewich family has a 10-year-old daughter with autism. Chad Yuskewich and his family say they've had season passes to Kings Island for years. They say a policy has dramatically changed their experience at Kings Island, and like other families in similar situations, they're against the change.
"We're close by, and they love the park so we go up whenever we get the chance," Yuskewich.
Before this year, Yuskewich says his daughter, Kendall, who has autism, would be allowed immediate access to the rides, but that wasn't the case a couple weeks ago.
"They had changed the policy and now were asking the children to register at the ride essentially, get a time to come back and ride the ride," said Yuskewich.
Yuskewich says Kendall didn't react well to the change.
"She grabbed my arm, was pinching and squeezing, she was screaming a bit, 'I wanna ride I wanna ride!'" said Yuskewich.
In a statement provided by Kings Island addressing guests with autism spectrum disorders, they state that the boarding pass will "allow guests to receive a boarding time at attractions, which is equal to the anticipated wait time of a particular ride."
Yuskewich says for kids with autism, that can be difficult because they get used to a routine.
"Some of what creates the frustration for her is the inability to describe her emotions and her feelings and coupled with that she has a difficult time with attention and focus," said Yuskewich.
The statement from Kings Island says they're trying to "provide all of our guests with equal opportunity and access by offering a uniform boarding pass."
"What I would love is a chance to be able to demonstrate the issue kind of show the need and give her an opportunity to enjoy the park that she has for the last several years," said Yuskewich.
The Yuskewich family says they hope to get refunded for their season passes to Kings Island.
Below is the statement from both Kings Island and the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati.
Kings Island statement:
In an effort to provide all of our guests with equal opportunity and access, Kings Island offers a uniform boarding pass with an anticipated wait time for riders with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) and mobility impairments. We are proud of our reputation for accommodating guests with all types of disabilities through our Ride Admissions Policy. As referenced in our Guest Assistance Guide, we offer a Boarding Pass to allow our guests with ASD and mobility impairments use of an alternate access to board our attractions with up to three companions. The boarding pass will allow a guest to receive a boarding time at attractions, which is equal to the anticipated wait time of a particular ride. By using a Boarding Pass, guests with ASD and mobility impairments are able to enjoy our attractions without having to wait in line.
We have worked with the Autism Society to develop information to better your day. Together we have created helpful information and tips to share with families living with autism so they can experience all the thrills of an amusement park and have a fun and memorable day for all. This information is available for families in advance of their visit on our website at visitkingsisland.com.
Guests that require the use of an alternate access entrance to enter a ride should visit Guest Services when they arrive at the park to obtain a Boarding Pass and a Guest Assistance Guide.
Please be sure to click on the link below so you can review the information that is available on our website for families on how to plan their day in advance of their visit. This information has been very helpful for families that have children with autism so they can enjoy their day at the park.
Autism Society for Greater Cincinnati statement:
Kings Island, a Cedar Fair Company, has recently changed its policy regarding special services for guests with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This policy change was without direct input from or prior notice to the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati (ASGC).
The procedure that was used in the past regarding avoiding lines was dropped by the park system. In anticipation of making a policy change, The Autism Society of America (ASA) was contacted to serve in a consulting role to help the Park develop new procedures to assist our families. ASA and ASGC did not suggest the park system drop the previous policy and there continues to be ongoing discussion with the Parks as to how to best meet the needs of all guests, including those with autism. The Kings Island website has posted a Help Guide developed by ASA for planning a day at the amusement park.
This is a link to the information for guests with ASD at Kings Island and other Cedar Fair Parks.
It has come to our attention that Kings Island is reviewing this policy. Family members are the most important advocates to influence changes as they are the consumers of their services and we encourage you to share your concerns and ideas to Kings Island. We also have been assured that any family that would like a refund for a Season Pass may do so.