Discrimination in Europa Park

It  happened in March this year. It took me so long to write about
this, specially because I was trying to forget about it. It was one of
the most humiliating experiences of my life, and it seemed natural to
ignore it and let it go. But I was wrong.

A friend of mine told me that he would be traveling to Germany, and
was thinking of visiting Europa Park,  one of the most famous theme
parks in Europe. I got stuck for two seconds and said – don’t do that.
Like me, he is blind too, and he would never be able to enjoy the
park. He would be able just to enter, and possibly  leave  holding
tears back as I did.

On March 28.th, 2013, I left Karlsruhe, where I was living, with my
girlfriend to Europa park. We were really excited to ride some roller
coasters and have just a great day. When we got to the Park,I was
admitted for free, what would  turn out latter an horrible way to
minimize and  mask the bad attitudes of the park, i’d rather had paid
for the entrance ten times not to experience that.

My girlfriend asked me what I would like to do first, and I wanted to
go straight to ride a roller coaster, so we did it. Well, almost did
it. We were blocked on the entrance of the attraction  by a security
guy, who sharply said: – Kannst du sehen? Kannst du wirklich sehen?
(Can you see? Can you really see?)

I said – Nein, nein, das kann ich nicht. Warun? (no, no, I can’t do
this, why?)

We found out that we couldn’t ride that roller coaster, even worse, none of the others either!

Why? Just because I am blind. That’s right, the fact that you can’t see is enough for Europa park not let you enjoy the best attractions and have fun. You are allowed to go to the kids’ attractions, and why not have an ice cream?

We tried to obtain an official explanation from the park, why I
couldn’t ride the roller coasters. Nobody knew the exact answer.
Nobody could explain us what was going on, they just said: – You just
can’t. Safety reasons. The staff was completely  inefficient.

Now let me tell you that I have already been in other roller coasters
before. I have visited  at least 4 different  theme parks in Brazil. I
have friends, from USA, that visit Disneyland and Disney World.
Disney Land even  has also special devices, which offers audio
description for the attractions.

I am still wondering what is the big deal of getting into the car and fasten the safety belt. Why? They seem to think that I am not able to do that. That may be too dangerous for a blind person to do!

With a little of research, I found out that other people also complained about this. One of the reasons the park does this is because of some German laws, which no-one could point me out, apparently, says that, if you are disabled, and you can’t leave the car on your own in case of an accident, therefore, you are not able to ride it.

So, Deutschland and Europa Park,  it means that disabled people can’t fly on airplanes either? I can assure you that an accident in an airplane is much bigger, complex and dangerous than a simple roller coaster. And yes, we do have safety procedures to evacuate people with disabilities on those occasions, so why not for roller coasters too?

People sometimes ask me  - is there discrimination yet? – Yes, there is. This kind of attitude, that I have just described, is cruel, dumb, and it’s created by people who don’t even know what having a disability looks like. They still think that we are still locked in our rooms, listening to radio all day long and begging for someone’s help all the time. They couldn’t be more wrong. We are on the streets, universities, movies theaters, and we want to be on the theme parks too!

I left Brazil on my by myself. It was just me and my guide dog to study abroad. We did several stuff on our own. We lived 7 months in Germany, and by the date my girlfriend from Brazil tried to visit us, so we could travel together, these things happened. I was shocked and sad. This occasion really knocked me down. Imagine if you were blocked in one place because of your skin color, religion, sex, social class. It was just because I was blind and had a disability, not because of safety reasons. Point me out, if you can, why blind people can’t ride on roller coasters. I dare you to do so. Evacuation? We do that on airplanes, as I said, why not in roller coasters, I ask you again.

I am writing  this text to let people know, how this park treats people with disabilities. Never go there. Concerning this unknown law, if there is one, blind organizations in Germany should do something about that. It is an insult, a violation of  the rights of
people with disabilities.

I left the park really sad that day. My girlfriend got her money back, but they are not finished paying us. That feeling that I felt  has a price too high that they can not afford. One day, I hope that it could change. I will never return to that place in my life, but someday, another blind person will ride that roller coaster, and go home happily.

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Comments

6 Responses to Discrimination in Europa Park

  1. Brian says:

    Hi Lucas,

    I read your post with great interest. In fact I contacted a friend in Germany about your experiences.

    Unfortunately he has confirmed that there are indeed regulations in Germany that would prevent ride operators for accommodating blind riders. This is mentioned on the Europa Park website at the foot of the following page: (http://www.europapark.de/lang-en/Info-and-services/Handicapped-persons/c477.html?langchange=true).

    Now that does not exclude them from being diplomatic, helpful or friendly to disabled visitors and we were both concerned at the treatment you mentioned by staff on site. My friend would like to know the names of the rides you were refused entry on and for what reasons precisely. If you can remember which rides you were refused access to that would be really helpful – although I realise it was back in March this year.

    It is always disappointing to hear stories such as yours, and I (and many people like me) are always trying to correct poor treatment of disabled customers. You can help in this process by giving us as much information as possible so that we can get in touch with Europa Park in order to prevent others receiving poor treatment.

    Best wishes

    Brian

    • Lucas Radaelli says:

      Hey Brian, thanks for your comment.

      Later I found out also on their website. In fact, I didn’t occur to me, before visiting the park to check the website, because I would never imagine something like this to happen.

      ON their website they mention indeed that they can not accommodate blind people on the roller coasters, but unfortunately I discovered this too late.

      The only roller coaster that I tried was blue fire mega coaster. We had our entrance denied, so we went straight to the information center. AS I told on the post, nobody told me that it was a German law. As they said, safety reasons was the only answer that I got from a nice lady on the center information, although she was not well prepared to attend people, since she didn’t know the exact information and she didn’t speak good English either, so we had to speak part in English and part in German.
      After that, we left the park and went home.

  2. Sandra says:

    Hey, did u ever explained this to the Europapark? I think they would be happy to hear about this story to make it better next time. Pherhaps you had bad luck with the staff, but this should never ever happen. :-(

  3. Hello,
    Have you tried petitioning them? You could have warn glasses so as to hide your blindness and so as fool the operator into thinking you could see. You could also have hidden your cane as well.

  4. Hi,
    I am living in Germany, never visited Europa Park Rust, but in fact, I heard from educators of the “Blindenstudienanstalt Marburg” Blista for short, that they in fact were there with a group of students. When a rude security guy said “You are not allowed to”, they all just hid their canes in their bags and went to other roller-coasters, and when the security officer was gone, they went back and since nobody recognized them, they could go on the ride.
    In fact, to prevent any hustle, I recommend visiting Heidepark, Soltau. Actually, their support says you are only allowed to use special rides, but in fact, the security does not know about rules like that. They let you board and enjoy the ride, as long as you have a sighted person boarding with you.
    I only once have been informed by the security that I am not allowed, since my sister is under 18 and in case of the Collossos could get stuck, you might not be able to get out on your own. “Guys! In a height of 60 meters, do you really think people would just follow your instructions without any problems? Haven’t you thought about people who might be scared of being in a height like that and have to climb down a ladder or something similar? In some cases, a blind person would be easier to handle, because I, as a fully blind person, could easily get out and follow the instructions given to me, without being scared of looking downwards!” They, in fact, did not find any further cons for that and told me to remain seated, if I wish. Of course I did and I enjoyed the ride!

    You are even allowed there, if you show them your papers which aprove your disability, to board the next round, without standing in a long queue!

    • Lucas Radaelli says:

      Patrick, I added you on facebook if you don’t mind. I would like to investigate this further, and maybe you could help me, since, of course, you speak German better than me. hehe.

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