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
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.