Alton Towers Resort has been awarded a national accolade from VisitEngland to recognise the outstanding delivery of accessibility and inclusivity provision to support guests.
Unveiled at the VisitEngland Awards For Excellence 2022, held in Library of Birmingham (June 8th), the Theme Park Resort, based in Staffordshire, was commended for it’s roll out of Makaton training for employees, investment in new facilities such as dedicated Changing Spaces and Quiet Rooms providing sensory respite, as well as the introduction of new attractions that have been consciously designed with accessibility, inclusivity and neurodivergence in mind.
The Resort endeavours to provide a fun-filled and exclusive escape to guests of all abilities and has worked with AccessAble and the British Disability Forum over the past year to improve its services for all guests. This has included the introduction and expansion of several key features including hearing loops, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, ear defenders, accessibility maps, Ride Access Pass, free carer tickets, as well as hoists, shower chairs and deaf guards in the Resort’s accommodation, plus much more.
Working closely with inclusivity experts and ride manufacturers across the Globe, the Resort has also undertaken an extensive review of rides and attractions to help provide enhancements to ride accessibility. This has resulted in a full review of the Resort’s ride restrictions, allowing more choice for guests with additional needs. The investment of additional and new equipment that can be used in the event of an assisted exit, at an unusual stopping point for example, will now allow more people to experience more rides and attractions for the first time. The introduction improved ramp access and brand-new access lifts at five of the Theme Park’s iconic rides have also helped improve accessibility for guests of all ages. So far in 2022, the Resort has already successfully achieved 18 enhancements to aid ride accessibility across the Theme Park and plans to enhance the accessibility of another four of its rides by the end of the year.
Pre-arrival website information, with enhanced details, as well as on park signage and features, have also helped provide a more holistic experience for guests with additional needs.
Earlier this year, the Resort opened three brand new attractions in the CBeebies Land area of the Theme Park each designed with inclusivity and accessibility integrated within each experience. The Hey Duggee Big Adventure Badge attraction, JoJo and Gran Gran at Home and Andy’s Adventure Dinosaur Dig experience consciously feature a number of accessible and inclusive features for families, including bespoke double-width slide created for the theme park which allows for joint use opportunities for children with carers and ground-level sunken trampolines that are suitable for wheelchair users. Low-level interactives, wide low-level steps to support those with low mobility, sensory features and mobile interactives also play a key role in the new attractions which opened in March.
The prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, running for more than 30 years, celebrate and champion innovation, quality and best practice across the industry recognising businesses and individuals who raise the bar of England’s tourism offer.
Speaking at the VisitEngland event, host Clare Balding CBE, broadcaster and author, said: “Alton Towers have thought about true diversity and was praised by judges for its excellent information provision, which has provided a real step change in accessibility over the last few years.
“I have seen a huge, huge improvement in this country in the attitudes towards disability but without practical changes like this attitude doesn’t mean anything. You have got to have accessible places like this. Making your holidays fully accessible is a game changer and life-changing for families.”
Kate McBirnie, Head of Guest Excellence at Alton Towers Resort who was there to receive the Silver Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award, said: “Alton Towers Resort believes in first-class experiences for all and we continue to move forwards in delivering an immersive and unforgettable escape for every disability need and requirement of our guest. We see this as absolutely pivotal to us being a truly inclusive provider of travel, leisure and entertainment.
“Receiving this award is testament to the drive, passion and efforts of our teams to ensure Alton Towers Resort is an inclusive destination for our guests and employees. It is a huge milestone on our accessibility journey and one we are incredibly proud of.”
Alton Towers Resort also works with Merlin’s Magic Wand to welcome thousands of youngsters and their families to the Resort each year. The charity aims to make fun accessible to children who need it most.The Atwal-Brice family from South Yorkshire (pictured below) are one of thousands of families who visit the Resort each year and rely on the availability of key accessible and inclusive features to make their fun-filled day out, or overnight trip, a reality. Michael and Paul Atwal-Brice are full-time dads to four adopted sons and host the Diffability podcast on Dadsnet . Their sons Levi and Lucas have severe autism and epilepsy. They said: “What Alton Towers Resort have done to improve inclusion and accessibility is amazing. They have gone above and beyond to create a Resort that is much more accessible with not one, but four changing place facilities, and inclusive play facilities like their new Hey Duggee Big Adventure Badge which is an accessible wheelchair friendly attraction. The team are working hard to make sure more families like ours can enjoy the park regardless of ability or disability.”
Anyone wishing to find out more about accessibility at Alton Towers Resort should visit www.altontowers.com/accessibility