February 6, 2020
Six Flags Great Adventure to Earn Certified Autism Center™ Designation
All Six Flags Theme Parks to Implement Specialized Training and new Accessibility Card to Better Serve Guests
JACKSON, N.J. — February 6, 2020 — Six Flags Great Aventure today announced that it will earn the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This initiative, across all 26 Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:SIX) locations, will mark the first-ever family of parks to earn the designation. Six Flags is the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America.
“We are proud to partner with IBCCES to ensure that guests on the autism spectrum have the best possible experience when visiting our parks,” said Six Flags Vice President of Safety Jason Freeman. “The certification process will equip our team members with the tools and training needed to better serve guests with special needs. We want them to know Six Flags stands ready to welcome them with open arms.”
Many individuals and families with children on the autism spectrum or with sensory sensitivities find it challenging when visiting new places or planning family trips. The potential for sensory overload combined with a lack of understanding and awareness at parks and other recreational venues can often be overwhelming.
The CAC designation from IBCCES, the only credentialing board providing these services for the amusement and attractions industry, requires that at least 80% of guest-facing staff at each park complete a training and certification program through IBCCES as well as complete onsite audits and make a commitment to ongoing training. The staff training focuses on understanding the autism spectrum and strategies for communication, guest experience, and safety, while the onsite audit will give each park techniques and guidance on additional updates.
As a Certified Autism Center, Six Flags parks will provide:
- Trained, courteous, front-line team members with the ability to identify visual cues to better accommodate guests with cognitive disorders and help them enjoy their time in the parks;
- A sensory guide for each ride and attraction so guests can make informed decisions about the ride experience and their level of comfort;
- Special in-park sensory spaces, where guests with sensory needs can relax in a less stimulating environment;
- Expanded culinary options to meet guests’ dietary needs (such as gluten-free items); and
- An updated Accessibility Guide available at sixflags.com, Guest Relations and Ride Information Centers at each park.
“IBCCES is extremely excited to work with a family of parks with this level of commitment,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “So many families just need more communication and understanding from parks and other attractions, so they can make those memories together that we all cherish. In some cases, small changes can make a huge impact, and our certification program ensures each park is committed to long-term growth and understanding, not just a one-time training.”
"As a person on the spectrum, it is exciting to see more parks taking the extra steps to accommodate all guests," said Dr. Stephen Shore. "The commitment Six Flags is making to a true certification process is impressive and means so much to millions of individuals and families. Creating family memories and recreation are essential for both individuals with ASD and their families as a whole."
For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel options. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the attractions and travel industry. While many destinations tout “autism-friendly” options, this phrase means something different to everyone and does not necessarily indicate a true understanding or commitment to serving these guests.
Theme Parks Introduce Accessibility Card to Assist Guests with
Cognitive and Physical Impairments
Six Flags will also be the first network of theme parks to implement IBCCES’ Accessibility Card. It is designed to help individuals with cognitive disorders or physical impairments identify and receive helpful accommodations at certified attractions worldwide. The cards are free and may be used during all Six Flags theme park visits. Guests will register for the card at www.accessibilitycard.org. After obtaining the card, they can visit Six Flags Great Adventure’s Ride Information Center for attraction access information that best serves their individual needs. For more information, visit https://www.sixflags.com/greatadventure/plan-your-visit/guests-with-disabilities
About Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America, with $1.5 billion in revenue and 26 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada. For 59 years, Six Flags has entertained millions of families with world-class coasters, themed rides, thrilling water parks and unique attractions. For more information, visit www.sixflags.com.
Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are the only training and certification programs endorsed by the largest grassroots autism organization in the world, The Autism Society of America, and recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.
Q&A about our new IBCCES Accessibility Card:
- Does the card apply only to autism, or to any disability? The new IBCCES Accessibility Card applies to all cognitive disorders and physical impairments.
- If I need special accommodations, like an attraction access pass, can I just visit the Ride Information Center (RIC) or do I need the card first? Any guest who wishes to receive helpful accommodations must first apply and receive the card before visiting the Ride Information Center.
- Can I still get a one-time courtesy visit (of receiving an attraction access pass) without the card? All guests must register for the new IBCCES program prior to visiting the RIC for the first time this season. If guests visit the park without the card, they can apply on a smartphone at the park and receive the card immediately once the application has been completed online
- If I received an Attractions Access Pass in the past, do I still need to apply for the new IBCCES program? Yes, everyone who wishes to receive helpful accommodations must apply for the card before visiting the RIC.
- Once Guests receive the card, do they still have to visit the RIC? Yes – to receive helpful accommodations, they will visit the RIC to receive an attraction access pass during each visit. Upon each visit, guests will need to log into their IBCCES portal to access their acitve Individual Accessibility Card (IAC).
- Is a doctor’s note still required at the park? No – Guests must complete the application at www.accessibilitycard.org. The IBCCES requires doctor’s notes with more detailed information than the note previously supplied to Six Flags. Therefore, any prior doctor’s note would not be applicable to the new IBCCES program.
- How often do I have to renew the card? You must apply annually for a new card. The card lasts for one year and can be used worldwide at any attraction or property that partners with the IBCCES.
- Does the Accessibility Card also apply at Hurricane Harbor? No, this card is only valid at Six Flags theme parks. We will continue to utilize our existing program at the water park.
PLEASE NOTE: The IBCCES will conduct audits to confirm the efficacy of provided information for an Individual Accessibility Card application. Individuals found to be fraudulently requesting or using the Attraction Accessibility Pass will be in violation of our Guest Code of Conduct and may be subject to civil penalties. Violators will also be asked to leave the park without any refund.