Six Flags: Families Incensed Over Treatment of Wheelchair-Bound Children

A sign for Six Flags Over Texas is shown just outside the pa

For most people, the average trip to an amusement park is an exercise in fun in the face of frustration (as anyone who's ever waited in line for two hours can attest). But for two Texas families, the scales tipped definitively toward the latter when a Six Flags excursion that took a discouraging turn.

The Wimberly family (of Weatherford, Tx.) and the Gibsons (Arlington) were enjoying a day at Six Flags Over Texas with their daughters Mayli and Brooklyn, both of whom have medical conditions that confine them to wheelchairs for movement.

As CBS reports, the two families were attending a live stage show at the park, and decided to have the two kids (both five years old) sit on their laps due to a visual obstruction in the handicapped section. They left the wheelchairs sitting in the row behind them--something they'd done numerous times.

But the theater's employees didn't take to the arrangements kindly, saying that the wheelchairs couldn't be left unoccupied, even though the Mayli and Brooklyn were only a few feet away. The only solution, seemingly, was to have them seated separately from their parents.

"That's taking her rights away," Sami Wimberly, Mayli's mother, told CBS. "The rights that every other kid in the theater has to sit with her parents, or on their laps if they choose. Our kids didn't have that right because of their chairs."

Theater employees and one supervisor allegedly told the parents that the wheelchairs would need to be taken outside if no one was sitting in them, citing city code. But according to Fire Marshal Stephen Lea, the only requirement is that wheelchairs don't impede an exit or point of egress. Moreover, Brittany Gibson (Brooklyn's mother) said that asking them to keep the chairs outside meant asking their daughters to give up their mobility.

"They are handicapped. That would be the same thing as me asking you to leave legs outside and you have to physically crawl inside to join your family. I'm not going to do that," she said.

For their part, Six Flags has offered the families VIP passes for a future trip. Let's hope that if they take them up on it, they let the kids keep their wheelchairs.

"When this happens, that makes them see they are excluded," said Gibson. "They are being discriminated against because they can not walk in there with their two feet and go sit with their families."
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