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Gazza

Whitewater World Media Beat-Up

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A story some of you may have heard (It was in the paper and on the news), but Paralympian Steve Simmonds has kicked up a bit of a stink in the media because of the fact he was not allowed to go in the slides with his artificial limb on. http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0...65-3102,00.html

By Greg Stolz October 23, 2008 11:00pm AMPUTEE Steve Simmonds has swum at the Paralympics for Australia and won waterski titles – but he's banned from riding a Gold Coast theme park's waterslide. Mr Simmonds, who has also walked the Kokoda Track, is angry and upset after being told he could not ride a WhiteWater World slide - or indeed any of the park's rides - with his five-year-old daughter. "I lost my leg in an accident when I was six and this is the first time in my life that I've felt discriminated against," Mr Simmonds, 34, said. The NSW holidaymaker was ordered off the rides when he and his family went to the Dreamworld water park on Wednesday. "They told me I couldn't go on any of the rides because my $12,000 carbon-fibre prosthesis is classed as a metal object," he said. "I could have walked up the steps and taken my leg off but how would I have gotten my leg back to the bottom? "The thing that annoys me the most is that with my artificial leg, I'm not disabled. It doesn't fall off so it can't hurt anyone." A Dreamworld spokeswoman said the park understood Mr Simmonds was "disappointed and angry" but his prosthesis was considered unsafe. She said the ride manufacturers' specifications prohibited metal objects because of fears they could cut fibreglass piping and injure patrons. She said the Simmonds family had accepted a refund.
Managements side of the story is here: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/queen...4351511435.html
The operators of a Gold Coast theme park say allowing an amputee to ride a water slide would have placed other members of the public in danger. Paralympian Steve Simmonds has complained of discrimination after he was ordered off a water slide by staff at Dreamworld's White Water World on Wednesday because he was wearing a prosthetic leg. The 34-year-old swimmer and waterskiier said the ban left him humiliated and unable to accompany his young children during a family trip to the park. A Dreamworld spokeswoman today told brisbanetimes.com.au park management had immediately apologised to Mr Simmonds, who wears a prosthetic after losing his leg as a child, but would not back down from the ban for safety reasons. She said slide manufacturer's guidelines prevented metal objects of any kind - including casts and protheses - from being used on any of the theme park's attractions and could result in damage to the thrill rides if ignored. "For the safety of everyone who uses the water slides, we have to abide by the manufacturer's guidelines and they are very specific," the spokeswoman said. "There is a long list of things we have to comply with as per the manufacturer's instructions." She said management had offered Mr Simmonds a ride on the slide without his prosthetic limb, and had also promised to upgrade him to the main Dreamworld park next door the moment they heard he was upset. "We tried to find a solution for him. We did invite him to stay and take off his prosthetic limb...but what I'm hearing from our team is that he didn't want to do that." But Mr Simmonds, who has represented Australia in the Paralympic Games, told ABC news that getting to the top of the slide without his artificial leg would have been impossible. "I said, 'if I walk up there, take my leg off can someone take the leg back down and I will put my leg back on at the bottom' and they said 'no, you can't do that'," Mr Simmonds said. "I said, 'do you want me to hop all the way up?' "They said, 'well, you need to be physically healthy'." "I've always been able to do pretty much whatever I wanted. "I was probably more upset because for the first time in my life I couldn't do something because I had one leg and it affected my kids, [it] just put reality in my face again." The Dreamworld spokeswoman said she "empathised" with Mr Simmonds. "We understand that he is an elite athlete and champion skier, however the welfare of all guests is our priority."
It seems as if 95% of the comments on the Courier website actually side with the park on this one though. Its not as if there weren't other options, he was fine to ride without the limb. Im guessing the reason why "someone" couldn't take the limb back down the bottom for him is because WWW typically only has one person at the top of each slide anyway. Obviously hopping to the top is a bit hard (just tried going up the stairs like it just then) but surely he could get whoever he was with to run it down. I don't think it is 'discrimination' at all, its not intentional, and with something like a water slide with stairs, and separate start and end points its going to be awkward no matter what with a disability.

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Fair enough! Like, it's dangerous, it will damage the slides. He could have gone to Dreamworld instead, for free, it's not like they were doing it intentionally to disclude him.

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There is quite a bit of chatter about this going around. Im with the park on this one, because I know from experience, staff always do their best to accommodate and help in these situations, and nine times out of ten, a solid compromise can be met. As Gazza said it does make it difficult having only one slidey at the top, but they have phones and two ways, they are trained to call for assistance if there are any problems. Pleasing one person isnt worth compromising the safety of people or rides. If it was really that much of an issue for him, Im sure he could have found a way to ride, because many many other people with prosthetic limbs manage to do it without kicking up a stink. Obviously its a bit of a diffult situation, but for him to go to the media crying discrimination, I think is just petty. He needs to grow up, read the terms and conditions of park entry before entering, especially if there might be even the slightest chance of an issue, or ask someone on the way through guest services, thats why they are there.

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does he cry descrimination if they wont let him ride a jumping castle with his daughter? Unfortunately he has a disability, and theres some things people with artificial limbs cant do. Hes proven he can be an Olympian and water skier and walked the Kokoda Track but that does not mean he has right of way at water parks. In the same way a Little Person is not able to ride a Roller coaster or a Terminally obese person cant ride a donkey.

Edited by DonjaiInLA

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I am impressed with White Water World for sticking with their original decision and not comprimising it because they might upset one famous olympian. From what I have read in those articles it seems that the park offered many solutions to the problem but instead he called the inforcing of ride rules and regulations, "discrimination". I can sort of see where the guy is coming from, he wants to have a nice day out with his young family and not let his prosthetic limb get in the way of things however, like he siad the reality is that if the manufacturers guide book states metal objects aren't allowed on the ride the park must enforce these rules to ensure their slides stay in top most condition. For goodness sake they were very generous and offered his whole family a pass to Dreamworld which if he had taken he would have been able to have a hopefuly problem free day. Once again I am very impressed by the way White Water World staff and management handled the issue and did not comprimise rules and regulations for a special individual. Well Done WWW. Cheers

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And the funny thing is that if the paralympian had contacted the park ahead of time, and spoken to their PR people, they probably would have escorted him around all day to a big fanfare of someone famous, and had a minder there with him to carry his limb up and down the stairs.... I mean any publicity is good publicity, but there would be some out there condemning DW's actions, no matter how "in the right" they are. The corporate Spin-Meisters should have jumped at the chance.

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rules are there for reasons, and in this case the rules are there to firstly protect their slides from getting damaged and secondly to protect the safety of other park guests. Dreamworld and WWW has a duty of care to protect their park guests after all. its not like WWW can adapt everything just to satisfy one person, after all this could mean that the majority of guests are dissatisfied. out of curiousity, does anyone know if it says on terms of entry/ride anything about disabled people or those with prosthetic limbs riding at WWW, or dreamworld for that matter?

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I agree that what DW management have done is right and feel that the media have made it into a sensational bit of news With regards to the people who have a disability, I assume that it would depend on the type of issue each individual has for a park to refuse. Eventually, it is all about safety first, for the person riding as well as for others It would be interesting to hear what other parks have to say

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out of curiousity, does anyone know if it says on terms of entry/ride anything about disabled people or those with prosthetic limbs riding at WWW, or dreamworld for that matter?
Technically not, because Disabled guests are usually assessed at the Point of Entry as to their suitability to get on rides. The general condition is that you must be able to get yourself to and from, or in and out of the ride envelope/gondola/raft with minimal to no assistance. This is purely in case of emergencies where the ride has to be evacuated, you must be able to get yourself off of the ride. In general though, park conditions are pretty clear: (from http://dreamworld.com.au/content/drw_2008_...ntryConditions)
Height and Health Advice For your safety and comfort there are height and age restrictions on some rides and attractions. Please refer to the park map and displayed signage for specific details. Riders must be in good health and free from any potentially adverse medical conditions. You should seek medical advice if uncertain. For example, expectant mothers should seek medical advice before riding. Further specific restrictions may be displayed through out the park, you must obey these. We recommend that enclosed footwear be worn within the park. Responsibility There are inherent risks in the participation in or on an amusement ride, device, attraction or the interaction with animals. You, by your participation, accept the inherent risks of which a prudent person is or should be aware. You should consider this participation an exercise in good judgement and act in a responsible manner while using the facility. Adults / carers are responsible for persons under their supervision and we recommend that you consider the decision to allow children to enter the park unaccompanied. You must act with good judgement and consideration, both for yourself and others, and refrain from behaviour which could affect your safety, the safety of others, the safety of the amusement rides, device, attractions, or the safety of the animals. You must obey all reasonable written and verbal instructions and warnings given by Dreamworld and it’s staff including the operators of any amusements ride, device, attraction or animal handlers, without objection. You must use, as instructed, all safety equipment provided when participating in any amusement ride, device or attraction.
Edit: A little unclear on disabiities, but the general conditions sort of set it out anyway. And as I said, disabled persons are usually assessed at the gate as they recieve a discounted entry based on their ability to participate on certain things, so its normally not a problem. Edited by Lotl_90

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