Photo_Opinion_Guest_Claire Zhang.jpg
My name is Claire Zhang and I am a teenager with mild cerebral palsy (a form of physical  disability). I am writing to advocate for free scooter rental at  Kings Dominion. 

I usually go to  Kings  Dominion  twice a year: once in the summer with family, and once in the spring with my school. Every time, one of my parents has to come the park and to help me rent a scooter. The cost of scooter rental is expensive -- $50 per dayAlthough I understand they need to cover the basic cost to maintain the scooter, but the high rental cost seems extreme, and I don’t think they should make a huge profit at the expense of people with disabilities.   

A general admissions ticket costs around $80 per person. In my case, we have to buy at least two tickets plus scooter rental. The scooter rental is extra burden. The large financial burden causes my family and me wonder if it is really necessary to go to amusement parks.  

I am fond of roller coasters because they give me a sense of freedom. Although I am not capable of any physically adventurous sports, I love to ride roller coasters because I see them as a mentally adventurous activity. The adrenaline rush from roller coasters has taught me to be courageous and to be happy in the toughest moments.  

Disabled kids already are challenged and struggle to move around, so why should we face more challenges when all we want is to enjoy amusement parks like other kids? Many families will make the decision to not go to amusement parks because of the huge financial burden.  

About 20 percent of the U.S. population has some kind of disabilities. I am sure that there are many people within the disabled community are in the same situation.  

I am blessed to be able to walk short distances in school or around the neighborhood, but I cannot handle long distance walking in very large public places. I don’t own scooter at home, but I need to rent one at the park. My case is not an isolated one, I am sure there are many disabled people who is similar to my situation. I am trying to advocate for such people. We should all be able to visit amusement parks without having to worry about having to pay extra money for the devices we need to enjoy them. 

When I go to the grocery stores like Costco and Walmart, electric scooters are placed at the front entrance. They are available for anyone for free to take them as needed.  

When I travel by airline, there is free wheelchair services upon request. A person who works for the airport usually serves and pushes the wheelchair for free.   

Why should amusement parks place a high price tag on their scooters? Why shouldn’t amusement parks provide free scooter and wheel chair rental to its disabled customers? 

Zhang is a high school student who lives in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County. We reached out to Kings Dominion for a response to her request and will print their reply when we receive it. 

 

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(6) comments

Louf

I too am disabled but not a victim. This is victimhood at it's best. A business does not have to absorb costs for a select group of the population. For the bleeding hearts out there go ahead and put your money where your big mouths are and pay up then.

stcyrbl53

No need to be nasty. She’s a child. Guide her gently.

22192

My initial thoughts, Ms Zhang, was to agree with you but , as some of the comment here have pointed out the matter is not that clear-cut. I checked the Kings Dominion Website an it is indeed possible to reserve wheelchairs (by having to reserve wheelchairs in advance it cut down on the slackers who just want to spend the day off their feet). You mentioned that it would cost (actual cost $51) to rent an electic wheel chair. You didn't mention that it would only cost $16 (with taxes and fees) to rent a manual wheelchair. Why would a manual wheel wheelchair not be acceptable--especially as you don't neeed a wheel chair full time? I believe everyone should go to theme park if that is their wish and they can afford it. For those with limited financual means and who require a motorized wheelchair I would suggest contacting the venue in advance for special pricing consideration.

Neale

I respectfully disagree with this young lady. I ,too, am disabled and require a motorized wheelchair for almost all activities, so I am sympathetic to her inability to enjoy the park on foot. However, she has confused needs and wants, especially since she can walk in day-to-day living. It is only for an optional trip to an amusement park that she needs assistance. Her need even then is only to be off her feet. A manual wheelchair accomplishes this and is available at King's Dominion for a token amount. If she required a wheelchair for daily living, a motorized chair would be a necessity for Independence, but for a single day it is a luxury item.



Secondly, it is not the responsibility of King's Dominion to make sure that she and I are able to manage the distances in their park. If the park provided wheelchairs and scooters free of charge, the young lady would be far less likely to be able to enjoy the park at all. It is an unfortunate part of human nature to take advantage of anything free. The scooter she wants would most likely be already in use by a non-disabled park-goer who figured out he could get to the other end of the park much faster if he used a scooter. The rental fee discourages such abuse and pays for the purchase and maintenance of the equipment.



Businesses need to make reasonable accomodations for the disabled like the author and myself. Ramps that allow wheelchair users access to all areas is a reasonable accessibility request, but providing the wheelchair or scooter is not. To do so would require ticket prices to rise, forcing others to pay for our ability to enjoy a day at an amusement park despite our disabilities.



As for her argument that renting the scooter makes the day unaffordable, we must all prioritize all of the time. There are some for which the entrance fee is unaffordable. Should we therefore expect that there be no charge to use the park? It's the same reasoning the author used to argue for free use of scooters, but the park couldn't exist at all if it were free. Likewise, those scooters would probably not be available at all if KD had to provide them for free. I am grateful that KD offers wheelchairs and scooters for rent. They are not obligated to do so.



I hope she enjoys her next trip to King's Dominion and willingly pays the scooter rental fee with newly opened eyes.

TheUnknownTaxPayer

I don't know. If you cannot walk through a theme park stay home. Just like, if you cannot swim stay out of the pool. Where did this simple value get lost?

stcyrbl53

That’s not a “value”. The importance of being kind and understanding of others is a value. Put yourself in her shoes. How would you like it if you were born with a disability and someone like you said, “Tough, kid!” My goodness.

I’ll be glad to pay for your ticket and your scooter rental, sweetheart. You ride that rollercoaster all day, if you want. I’m glad you found something harmless that makes you feel good.

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