Saturday, 17 August 2019

Blackpool Sandcastle Waterpark: Leading the way in disabled access (including autism)

We visited the Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool earlier this year and were extremely impressed with their attitude towards adults and children with disabilities. 
outside flumes at blackpool sandcastle water park
The Sandcastle is a huge waterpark located on the promenade in Blackpool, so named because from outside it looks like a giant sandcastle. It has over 18 slides and attractions, including thrilling white knuckle slides, fun pools, wave machine, great water based play structures for younger guests and much more - see the Sandcastle website for details.
stephs two girls looking at sandcastle waterpark map
Inside, there is much fun to be had as you can imagine, especially for children who love water (as both our girls do). The only downside is that it is quite a noisy place, with lots of excited youngsters. Sasha wants to be in there, enjoying the water (but not the slides, she doesn't even do slides on dry land!) but she struggles massively with the noise and so many people.


That's why the sensory room which the Sandcastle have available was a such a brilliant facility for us. This quiet room, fitted with a bubble tube, padded benches and a big floor mat area with giant beanbag and cushions, made all the difference between us having a great day out or having to call it a day. 
sasha with ipad in sensory room
Sasha was able to stay in there to de-stress, in her costume, with her iPad, while big sis and I made brief ventures out to enjoy the rides and water then return to her. Sasha probably only spent 30 minutes in the water at most but was happy to be in there for another couple of hours, knowing we were having fun but would return to her periodically.
blackpool sandcastle water park sensory room with bubble tube
The Sandcastle website has a great section called Access For All which helps with plans for a day out, and it also states the following: 

'Sandcastle Waterpark is proud to be an Accessible Venue. Our award-winning range of inclusive information, facilities and guest services have been carefully designed to give you the best possible experience with us.'

We certainly found this to be true; every single staff member was super friendly and polite and did their best to help us, from suggesting we didn't need to wait in the middle of a noisy busy queue to pay for entry to offering us a changing room at pool level away from the noise of the main changing rooms. The Sandcastle is also fitted with a wet room Changing Place and they say 'This award-winning facility provides a large space with a height-adjustable changing bench and ceiling-track hoist to enable you to change in comfort as well as to access our water wheelchairs, with ease. Our changing-places facility is also available for non-guests visiting Blackpool who need to use it.' They also provide a map of other Changing Places in the Blackpool area.

We had originally planned to visit Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but sadly they changed their disabled access policy this year, not for the better. Despite years of fun there for me and my family, the changes they have made mean that it wouldn't be such a good family day out for us any more. I'm so glad we decided to go to the Sandcastle instead!

Other venues could learn a lot from the Sandcastle Waterpark, so feel free to share this post and their website as an example of good practice. The more we feed back to businesses who are aiming to provide inclusive family entertainment, the more chance there is of this kind of good work spreading! Huge thanks to everyone at the Sandcastle.

stephs two girls in front of Blackpool Sandcastle waterpark




To find out more about our experiences, please check out our 'About Us' page. If you are looking for more information on Pathological Demand Avoidance, the posts below may help.

What is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)?

Ten things you need to know about Pathological Demand Avoidance

Does my child have Pathological Demand Avoidance?

The difference between PDA and ODD

Strategies for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Pathological Demand Avoidance: Strategies for Schools

Challenging Behaviour and PDA

Is Pathological Demand Avoidance real?

Autism with demand avoidance or Pathological Demand Avoidance?




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4 comments:

  1. Wow, that is so nice that they have that sensory room. I don't believe I've heard of any place here that offers anything like that. Is that a private space that you reserve or is anyone free to come and go? So great that they really try to provide a great experience for everyone.

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  2. What a fantastic place to visit. It sounds like they really do cater for everyone! The sensory room is a brilliant idea. x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. We loved it. Sometimes it's all about attitudes, and small adjustments x

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