With Kings Dominion so close to us in Richmond, and, having a child with Special Needs who loves spending time at Amusement Parks, I thought it would be a great idea to share some tips that work well for us as well as some of the great things Kings Dominion does to make it an enjoyable experience.
Here are some of the things I find really help us when headed to the park:
- Make use of the programs offered to shorten wait times. Each park varies, so check with Guest Services to see. Call before you visit, to be sure you have anything you need to provide the correct info.
- If your child needs or uses headphones to shut out some sound, pack those.
- I always dress my son in a bright T-shirt so he is more easily seen by all that are with us.
- Be Flexible – if you need to take a break, take it. Need to find a quieter spot for lunch, that is fine too
- Use the map and have your child choose rides or shows they want to go to. It is a great visual tool. I also use the map to show him where we are headed, it helps him understand more. For our son, knowing what is coming next is a great tool.
- We also take a picture of our son and our group when we get there. If your child is non-verbal children, make sure you write out a card with a name or contact info on it, so someone can help, if the need arises.
- Set a time frame for your child. Let them know the time you plan to eat as well as when you plan on leaving the park. Both of these will help to supply structure. Granted, these may not work to the minute, but as a guide, it proves to be helpful.
- Talk to the group you are with at the park, let your friends and family know what to expect and let them know how they may be able to help you and your child at the park. We have some keywords we use that are helpful and we also let them know that our son’s wishes will come first for the day.
- Know the ride restrictions before you get online. If your child is not tall enough, no need to even consider waiting for the ride. If there are sensory issues for your child, look at the info on the rides to help assess if it will work for you.
- At the end of the day, share the moments that you laughed and loved. Do not worry about the meltdown that may have happened or the rides you missed. There is always next time, and if you are like us, there is always a next time.
Here are some of the things that Kings Dominion offers to help us make it a great experience:
Boarding Pass Program
To those on the autism spectrum, especially those who may easily be overwhelmed and experience sensory overload, the exciting environment of an amusement park can be challenging. Upon arrival at the park, guests can visit Guest Services and obtain a Boarding Pass through our Boarding Pass Program. This allows a group of up to 4 to schedule ride times and use Alternate Access Entrances to avoid sensory overload.
A Quiet/Sensory Space is available in Planet Snoopy at the Family Care Center and features comfortable seating, weighted blankets, headphones, fidget toys and more.
Wristbands are also located in the Family Care Center to write a contact number in case you and your child are separated.
Sensory Friendly Shows
Check the schedule to see
Gluten Free is available and some of my son’s favorites, pizza, and fries!
If you aren’t sure if a ride is appropriate, please have someone in your party ride it first to decide.
The following rides utilize strobing, quickly moving lights or lighting effects:
Great Pumpkin Coaster
You can call Kings Dominion with any questions at (804) 876-5000
Print this for use while at the park too: KD19-231 autism awareness flyer
I really do feel that many parks are working hard towards inclusivity for all children to have positive experiences. If you plan ahead to help your child with special needs, I think it will be a great day for all!