Universal Orlando Brings Guest to Tears After Rude Accessibility Interrogation

in Universal Orlando

Family walking toward the entrance of universal studios florida

Credit: Universal

Last week, theme park fans were outraged when both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort revealed that they were ditching their current accessibility service to instead outsource the service elsewhere. Now, their biggest concerns are becoming a reality as those trying to use the new service face obstacles that brought one Guest to tears.

For those unable to wait in typical attraction lines, Universal Studios Parks have – like Walt Disney World Resort and SeaWorld – long boasted an accessibility service. Until recently, this required Guests to visit Guest Services on each day of their trip to receive a card that they can take to the entrance of a ride before receiving a return time slot that’s similar to its current wait time.

Universal Orlando offers three theme parks, Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and Universal's Volcano Bay
Credit: Universal

While this system has been plagued with issues (namely the impracticality of having to return to Guest Services so frequently on each trip), the new system sparked outrage upon its announcement last week. Now, Guests needing extra accommodation at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, and other Universal attractions must first obtain an Individual Accessibility Card (IAC) from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

The process of gaining an IAC – which is already used at SeaWorld and Six Flags – has been labeled both complex and intrusive. Those hoping to obtain one must first register online at least 48 hours before they visit the Park, as well as provide photo identification and a statement from a doctor or healthcare provider or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as written confirmation that an IAC is required.

Universal Studio Orlando rotating globe
Credit: Universal

Related: Blind Guest Criticizes Disney World Disability Resource, Calls For Better

Once a permanent card is issued, it’s valid for a year, which at the very least, cuts down on repeat visits to Guest Services for those requiring greater accessibility at Universal.

However, it seems like Guests’ biggest fear of IBCCES auditing their need for an access card is very much valid. A Universal Parkgoer recently took to Reddit to share their experience, which ultimately brought her to tears.

The Guest in question applied for an IAC for her son for an upcoming trip to Universal Orlando Resort, stating that he “needed accommodations for standing in line for long periods and also enclosed/crowded spaces” and that he requires “frequent restroom usage.” They also submitted the necessary legal documentation.

Three young Guests visiting Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Credit: Universal

While their application for a card was approved, they later received a call from a “rep from Universal” who asked to speak to her son (who is 11-years-old). When the Guest stated that they as his mother could answer any questions, the representative questioned “why [her] son needs accommodations and what the issues are that he has.”

Caught off guard by the sudden questions, the Guest admitted that they “probably didn’t eloquently explain in detail,” to which the representative stated that “Universal already offers accommodations that suit his needs and they’re built into the Park.” They also added that if her son needed to leave the line for the restroom, they’d just need to “catch back up with the rest of our party,” and that he could bring medical supplies and just leave them in the locker.

Guests stand outside the entrance for Skull Island: Reign of Kong, which is made of rocks.
Credit: Universal

When the Guest pointed out that if he was alone in a line with his father, they couldn’t both leave and return to their spot – to which the representative “reluctantly” offered just two attractions assistance passes. When the parent asked for three passes, they were placed on hold.

Shocked, the Guest was then forced to recount everything that they had submitted on the IAC form. Feeling like they were “being treated as if I was trying to take advantage of their system,” they were brought to tears after the representative said they may be able to get a wheelchair for use in line in case her son had a seizure while waiting (but that they weren’t always available).

“I was so frustrated that I broke out in tears,” they wrote. “I am truly trying to get this pass because I felt it was needed for my son to be able to fully enjoy and experience the parks, and as a child who deals with his disability day in and day out, it’s nice to be able to forget about it for a while at the parks, but it seems like Universal is now intent on treating everyone as if they’re trying to cheat the system.”

Universal Studios Florida at Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal

Related: Cast Member Shares Experience With a Hidden Disability

The Guest also negatively compared Universal to Disney, arguing that their treatment “paled in comparison to how they dealt with it at Disney, and [she’s] so incredibly disappointed in them that it’s making [her] question [their] decision to visit.”

While the Guest ultimately ended up receiving an AAP for their entire party, they were disappointed that the representative only seemed willing to do so once they mentioned that they were staying at a hotel with Express Pass.

This is the exact kind of encounter Guests were worried about when it came to accessibility at Universal, and it seems like their fears were pretty valid. Hopefully, Universal can work out the kinks sooner rather than later to ensure a fair, enjoyable theme park experience for all.

Have you ever had trouble obtaining an accessibility pass from a theme park? Let us know in the comments!

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