PLACES TO PLAY
Theme parks achieve Certified Autism Center status to offer the best experience to all guests
Young people are champions of inclusivity, and they demand equality across diverse races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and physical abilities. To be inclusive of all guests and offer a better experience to visitors with autism, the following destinations went through a comprehensive program to achieve Certified Autism Center status.
The Sesame Street-themed destination in Langhorne, PA became the first theme park to receive the Certified Autism Center qualifier from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards last spring. At least 80% of Sesame Place staff went through specialized training—covering areas including communication, motor skills, and sensory and emotional awareness—sensory guides can help parents plan activities to fit their children’s needs, quiet rooms and low-sensory areas are available to guests, and the park offers a Ride Accessibility Program.
SeaWorld, which owns Sesame Place, added another one of its destinations to the list of Certified Autism Centers this January. Aquatica Orlando is the first water park certified by IBCCES, and employees of the Florida park also went through autism sensitivity and awareness training, which must be repeated every two years to maintain the park’s status. Like Sesame Place, Aquatica Orlando also implemented a quiet space, low-sensory areas, and a Ride Accessibility Program. Additional resources are available to help guests plan their visit to suit their specific needs.
In addition to the specialized training, sensory guides, and quiet areas it implemented to qualify for the Certified Autism Center designation from IBCCES at the end of last year, Zoo Miami also offers its guests with special needs sensory bags, which contain noise-canceling headphones and fidget toys or stress balls. All three of these destinations are included on AutismTravel.com, a free resource created by IBCCES to help families with members who have autism, as traveling to a new place can present particular hardships.