Manchester, Uk – This past weekend, the press has been dominated by the story of a 40-year-old man, Simon Thomason, who was informed that his yearly pass to gain entry into the Trafford Centre Legoland, will not be renewed. Mr Thomason has autism, cerebral palsy and has a mental age of a seven-year-old. He was bought the pass by his sister and attended the attraction regulatory with his carer.
Management at Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester say that there is a policy in place that restricts the admittance of adults without children, and they defend their decision to not allow Mr Thomason entry into the attraction, although he was accompanied by an adult carer. This they state is for ‘child protection’ issues. He was offered a pass for an alternative venue run by the parent group Merlin Attractions.
Mr Thomason’s sister, Paula Thomason, had bought the £60 annual pass after she had spoken to staff and explained about her brother’s condition. He has been attended the attraction, weekly, for the past seven months.
This story has opened the floodgates for an outpouring of shock, alarm and obvious anger towards Legoland Discovery for this decision, many citing that they are being discriminatory towards an individual with a learning disability.
Clare Lucas, who is the activism lead at the charity Mencap, has also condemned this decision. She said:
“It is unfortunate Legoland Discovery’s policy has had a negative effect on someone with a learning disability who wanted to go out and access leisure activities many people take for granted.”
A Legoland Discovery Centre representative defended the policy by stating that the venue ran regular evening events for adults. We contacted Jonathon Royle, the Marketing Manager at Lego Discovery Centre Manchester. At time of going to press we had received no response.
Twitter gave the following reactions.
Lucy Hurst-Brown tweeted:
Madness??!! Legoland stops disabled man and his carer from visiting because adults are BANNED without children
Rob McDowall tweeted:
Very disappointing reply from
@LEGOLANDWindsor over #disabled man effectively being banned from visiting attraction
Phillip Caudell tweeted:
Shameful response from LEGOLAND. They should be embarrassed.
Antonia Katsambis tweeted:
Wow! Never heard something so discriminatory! Disappointing views & behaviour from
President Business tweeted:
Can’t believe that an autistic man was banned from LEGOLand because ‘he didn’t have a kid with him’. Not every man is a paedo!
We here at Autism Daily Newscast are incredibly angry and saddened by this story, in that this man has been turned away without the management considering his individual needs and case. He has a learning disability and the mental age of a seven-year-old, surely this should have been taken into account when making their decision. He has been attended Legoland weekly for seven months, so why has the decision been made now? According to Ms Thomason she had approached staff and explained about her brother’s disability before buying the pass, so again, what has changed?
Legoland have honoured the last five months on the pass, but sadly this is with the proviso that they are emailed before Mr Thomason visits. Surely this is discrimination at its worst?
Supporters of Mr Thomason have been so outraged that a Change.org petition has now been set up,Allow Simon Thomason and other learning disabled people and their carers access to Legoland. Thus can be found by clicking here.
The petition states:
Simon Thomason has been stopped from going to Legoland with his carer because of their ‘child protection’ policies. Simon is 40 years old with a mental age of seven. He has autism, learning disabilities and cerebral palsy.
He had a yearly pass, but the powers that be at legoland have stated that he will not be allowed to renew it, as they do not allow adults without children into the park. A spokesman for the theme park said that, “Our policy not to permit entry to groups of adults, adult couples, or lone adults, regardless of circumstances, who are not accompanied by a child or children under the age of 16 is we believe therefore appropriate and the best way to constantly maintain a welcoming environment for our young visitors.
“We make no apologies for this policy and believe it to be reasonable and appropriate, and one on which we make no exceptions.”
Legoland, please reconsider your ‘child protection’ policies. They are draconian and pointless. Not only do they discriminate against disabled people, they serve no purpose in protecting children. Alton Towers, Flamingo Land, etc don’t have these sorts of policies and when was the last time one of them made headlines with a child being abducted or abused at their facilities? It is perfectly reasonable to try to keep children safe, but there comes a point where it is over-protection and nonsensical.
A change in ‘child protection’ policies would assure that disabled people would be able to enjoy Legoland as other people can.
After reading the various articles and viewpoints surrounding this story, you do begin to wonder who the ‘protection issues’ are aimed towards. Is it really for the safety of children? Mr Thomason was accompanied by an adult carer and as the petition clearly states, many other ‘children’s’ attractions do not have this policy. Is it simply because they do not want a man to be ‘alone’ with children? Have there been complaints from other visitors, about a single man being allowed admittance? We do not know. Clearly though, refusing a man with a learning disability, when accompanied by a carer must surely be discriminatory and the decision revoked? We can only hope so.
Sources: Amy Glenndining on the Mirror website: Legoland stops disabled man and his carer from visiting because adults are BANNED without children