Theme park apologises to special needs group

Fri, Aug 10, 2012, 01:00

MANAGEMENT AT one of the State’s largest theme parks, the Funtasia Waterpark in Drogheda, has apologised for its treatment of a group of children with special needs.

Thousands of people expressed support for a complaint made on Facebook on behalf of the group of autistic children. By yesterday, the complaint, posted on Funtasia’s Facebook page, had more than 8,000 “likes”.

The company yesterday said it was “amazed at the number of comments and negative publicity that our business received”.

It said: “We fully accept that people are entitled to voice concerns and opinions but we have seen at first hand the dangers that social media can do to a business.”

The complaint was posted by Aisling Byrne, who was with the group of mildly autistic children and teenagers. She said that on arrival, the group showed staff their autism cards, which most parks acknowledge by allowing early access.

The staff member “looked blankly and said he doesn’t make decisions but they don’t do discounts.

“We asked if the children could be brought in ahead of the queue as children with autism find waiting hard. Again the staff member hasn’t a clue and said ‘I don’t know, I don’t think so’.”

The group spoke to a manager who “was very dismissive and said he couldn’t help us and had to go”.

Later a man in the queue verbally abused one of the women when she rejoined the queue. “He was shouting, screaming and using derogatory comments . . . Not one staff member came to our assistance when they all could clearly see what was happening.”

The company apologised on Facebook and its general manager spoke with Ms Byrne. In a statement, the park said: “We are determined to react in a positive way and implement the necessary changes to ensure this type of incident doesn’t happen again.”