Parents from Merseyside, England, are upset and demanding a refund after they say their disabled 4-year-old son Alfie was denied the chance to meet with Santa at Gulliver’s World theme park because of a “lack of disabled access.”
Alfie, who has cerebral palsy, had just been released from intensive care the week before and his parents, Pearl Phillips and Marc Platt, had hoped to treat him and his twin sister Gracie to a fun and special day at Gulliver’s World’s Santa Express, reports Wirral Globe. Instead, they discovered the train that would bring them to Santa lacked proper accommodations for a person in a wheelchair.
“When we got to the gates to go and see Santa we were told that we had to go on a train,” Phillips said. “I asked what we should do about Alfie’s wheelchair and they told us to leave it and carry Alfie through the queue. I asked where we got off and I was told that it was on the other side of the park. They said in extreme circumstances they would bring the chair around.”
But Phillips, who says she alerted the park beforehand to the fact that she has a child with a disability, says that Alfie began to feel uncomfortable after 30 minutes of being held and that her partner had to ultimately remove the child from the line.
So, Gracie and Phillips met Santa, while Alfie and Platt were forced to stay behind.
“Alfie was really upset and it was getting impossible for his dad to carry him for that long so he left the queue,” Phillips told the Metro. “It took two hours for me and Gracie to wait and see Santa, and Alfie and his dad had to wait outside in the hail and rain.”
Phillips says she paid £100 for four tickets to the park and that managers at Gulliver’s World were not understanding or helpful.
“I want a refund for Alfie’s ticket at the very least because he didn’t get to see Santa which I feel is unfair – at no point did staff point us in the direction of disabled access, if there was any.”
Dean Kimberly, from Gulliver’s World, says the problem was miscommunication and that there are ways for disabled visitors to enjoy the Santa Express.
“There are two options available – either customers can board the train without the wheelchair and we’ll meet them at the grotto terminus with the wheelchair, or we can show them an alternative access route to reach the grotto via wheelchair.
“If this information wasn’t communicated on the day, we can only apologize. Now the matter has been brought to our attention, we are speaking to the customer directly to resolve it.”