the sweetest place on earth 🍫
a trip to Hersheypark (with Cerebral Palsy)
Matthew and I were 16 when we got our season passes together to the sweetest place on earth! It was our favorite way to spend our day together, riding all of our favorite rides and roller coasters!
10 years later and we are reliving it all with kids of our very own. We couldn't wait to share this with them.
Something we didn't expect was Abby's diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. The ways that her body would do things differently because of the way her brain devleoped before she was born. We know how much this affects her daily life. How was this going to affect her experiences at places like HersheyPark? Places that exhaust even us, as adults, after a full day of fun. Was she still going to be able to go? To enjoy herself while she's there?
That's where the accessibility programs come in and believe me, they are not all the same. We've found that just because a program states that it is designed for individuals with disabilities, it doesn't always mean it will allow them to have the same experiences. We've definitely felt disappointment with this before.
Thankfully our experience at both HersheyPark and Hershey's Chocolate World have been nothing but wonderful!
Inside of Hershey's Chocolate World, there is a FREE ride within the loads of chocolate, a food court, novelties, merchandise and activities just steps away from the park. We are always greeted at the entrance of the ride with immediate assistance and a seating area while we wait for our special escort. They've even decorated the accessible enterance with details from the original intricate entrance so no guests are left out. The staff are always so amazing helping us on to the roatating floor and guiding Abby in a provided wheelchair to the ride car already equipped with a ramp!
Now in the park, there's an entire accessibility pass process that can be completed right at the entrance, next to the ticketing booths. What I appreciate so much about HersheyParks process is that they do not label everyone with a disability in the same category. They actually ask you information specifically about you or your child to provide the safest and most appropriate expierence to the person with the pass. They asked about Abby's mobility, her comfortablity with transfers, her control and stregnth of her upper and lower extremities. At the end of the brief survey, she recieved a pass with a detailed list of all of the rides that can accomodate her and where in the park we can find them! Her pass allowed us all to use a specific entrance of the ride that allowed her less time of walking/standing and more time to get comfrtable in her seat before the ride began!
From the water rides to the roller coasters, Abby got to spend the entire day just focused on having FUN and not worrying about whether or not she would be able to participate. HersheyPark made the process of setting up her pass, and using it throughout the park, an absolute breeze.
Of course we finished off our day with dinner and a chocolate-filled dessert at the brand-new restaurant, The Chocolatier, located in Hershey's new Chocolatetown which may have been one of Abby's favorite parts of the day and I think there is no question why!
disclaimer: While HersheyPark was so kind to host us for this special day, they didn't ask us to elaborate at all on our experience.
We genuinely just had the best day! 🎢🍫✨
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