Will has always loved rollercoasters - the faster the better! I'm sure it has something to do with his sensory issues, but he's always loved amusement park rides. I penciled in "Six Flags w/ Will" on my calendar a couple weeks ago and yesterday was the day! Too bad that day fell on the hottest day of the summer thus far - it was 109 degrees as we headed to the park around 5 p.m. last night. Good thing the park wasn't too crowded and the water ride lines were short! But I will tell you this - there is some good people watching at an amusement park on a 100+ degree summer day. Lots of hot-messedness going on!
Once we got into the park, Will immediately wanted to go on Aquaman - fine by me! For my California friends, it's the "tidal wave" at Magic Mountain. We rode the ride, stood on the bridge to get soaked, then set out on our next adventure. And oh, what an adventure it was...
Will told me he wanted to go on the "colored" rollercoaster. He'd already told me he didn't want to go on the white rollercoaster, and seeing that all other coasters in the park have a color of some kind on them, I was at a loss. You can imagine what happened next - full-on, back on the black concrete, screaming, crying, autism fall out. I find the best way to deal in those situations is to avoid eye contact - I know I'm being judged, so I just focus on Will and trying to calm him down. And I swear every time we go out on one of these autism adventures that I'm going to get Will a shirt that references his autism so people might read it and understand that he's not a bad kid, he's got issues!
The fall out continued when Will pointed towards the Batman ride and I told him he wasn't tall enough to ride that one. 10 more minutes on the black top. Threatening to leave didn't help - he wanted to stay. So I did what I knew would work - we found a relatively quiet corner to regroup, then went on about our way.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about changes to Six Flags' disability policy. I was curious to see how things would go yesterday. For the most part, it went well. Of course, when Will and I exited the elevator at the Titan ride, the young man on the intercom immediately drew attention to us by saying over the speaker, "So you're just going to come up the elevator, huh?" I try to avoid bringing attention to the fact that we're receiving accommodations - people will stare and judge and I just don't like that. Remember, I'm already in "avoid eye contact" mode. I will even avoid using our disability pass if I can avoid it - if the line is short and I think Will can handle it, I will make him wait in line.
Of course, I tried that a couple times yesterday. And Will stood in line screaming repeatedly, "We're all going to die." I chuckled - you've got to have a bit of a sense of humor with autism. I can imagine the patrons around me didn't think it was so funny.
And then there was the bobsled ride where we waited patiently at the handicap entrance while the attendants seemingly ignored us. We'd been there about 10 minutes when a tan gentleman with his teenage son came up the flash pass entrance waving his disability pass demanding immediate access. The attendant told him he'd need to come around to the handicap entrance. So he did. And pushed his way right past Will and I as if we weren't even there. I don't know who had the disability - the teenager or the dad. But this guy made me angry because he felt he was entitled to special treatment because he was waving around his pink disability pass. We appreciate Six Flags for providing the accommodations - we don't expect the Six Flags staff disrupt their normal operations because we're there. The guy was a jerk. His kid seemed embarassed. That dad makes it hard for the rest of us who just need a little help. He is the epitome of why (a) people think they can abuse the pass - it gets you quick access; and (b) we get judged by folks who've just had to wait in line in 100 degree heat for 20 minutes
After that, I decided to take a "disability pass" break and see if Will could stand in line for the rapids ride. It was longer than I thought it would be but I couldn't convince Will that if we got out of line, we'd be able to get in a shorter one. Every time I mentioned leaving, he started crying. So we waited. Will wanted me to pick him up - that wasn't going to happen for a variety of reasons. It didn't help that we had a very friendly 5 year old standing in front of us who insisted on trying to engage Will, and Will wasn't interested. So then the 5 year old talked to me the whole time - he told me he'd farted, he assaulted me with the plush duck he'd just won at an arcade game, and insisted we ride the ride with them. Dad just stood there on his phone. Luckily, we were on a different raft. That ride was my last straw. Sopping wet, we stopped to get some overpriced chicken fingers before heading home.
Overall, it was a good afternoon. I appreciate the Six Flags disability policy and accommodations for making our trip a little more enjoyable.