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Legally blind woman told to watch fireworks from outside Wonderland

A Toronto woman called Canada’s Wonderland to find out where those with special needs can watch the fireworks.

Canada’s Wonderland’s response? Outside the park.

Patricia Smith had the perfect long weekend planned. Having just bought a platinum pass for the park and she she was excited to take in Sunday’s Victoria Day fireworks show.

She is legally blind and was hoping Canada’s Wonderland would accommodate her disability.

“I called them to see if they had a special area where I might feel a little safer being visually impaired. The answer I got wasn’t expected. They told me that I should sit outside if I didn’t want to be trampled. I was shocked by that,” Smith explained.

Canada’s Wonderland does take steps to welcome those with disabilities but Smith said she wasn’t informed of any on the phone.

“I was put on hold several times,” Smith explained. “When I said I was visually impaired I was put on hold again and when she came back that’s when she said that the outside was best for me.”

Canada’s Wonderland provided this statement:

We apologize that the information communicated may have been perceived as insensitive.  We sometimes recommend viewing fireworks from our front gate area as it can be easier to exit following the completion of the show.  We do in fact have a designated area in the park where guests with disabilities can view the fireworks from.  The area is located on “Cookie Hill”, which located behind Wonder Mountain between Vortex and Windseeker.  Guests who approach our staff can be escorted to the designated area to view the fireworks show. We certainly welcome guests with disabilities in the park, and Canada’s Wonderland has a number of programs to accommodate guests with disabilities who visit our park throughout the season, as well as tools for planning their visit to the park.  Some of these programs and tools include our Boarding Pass program, Rider and Guest Assistance Guides, and a Braille park map.  Information about all of these programs and tools can be found on our website.  We encourage those with questions to contact our Guest Services Department for clarification on any questions.

“They said to sit on the grass outside … that I could hear the music out there and still see the fireworks … but I’m not sure if she realized what I just said – that I was visually impaired and the closest I can be, the better,” Smith said.

An official from Canada’s Wonderland told CityNews that staff will sometimes recommend watching fireworks from the gate for those who want to exit quickly once the show is done.

Canada’s Wonderland has been on a roller-coaster ride of its own this week.

A Toronto mom, Melissa Hart, contacted CityNews to say she wasn’t let into the park with her baby’s food due to the park’s strict food policy.

“I was absolutely furious,” Hart said. “They kept saying ‘no, you can only bring one thing in … why does a baby need this much food? He doesn’t need this much.'”

Canada’s Wonderland said the staff are being retrained on the park’s food policy.

Smith hopes the same will be done in her case.

“I’m thinking it’s more a case of lack of training than anything else. I don’t think the staff know how to handle anything other than straight questions,” Smith said.

Smith said that despite the park’s advice — she still wants to check out the fireworks show at some point this weekend.

For the fireworks show this weekend, Canada’s Wonderland says it will have a designated area for people with disabilities and anyone who needs help getting to it can just ask staff.