I’ve been to two different water parks, one that is indoors and attached to a hotel, and a more traditional outdoor water park with a variety of tall slides and rides. I’ve been to both parks multiple times over the years, and as my vision has changed I have developed several tips and tricks for going to water parks with low vision. Here are my tips for going to water parks with low vision, based on my experiences at both parks.
Consider a waterproof bag to store glasses
Since most rides do not allow guests to wear glasses unless they are secured with a sports strap, I use a floating bag that attaches to my waist or that fits in a larger pocket. I chose a floating bag because if the bag somehow fell off, we would be able to locate it quickly as it would float to the water’s surface. A waterproof phone case bag will also fit a pair of glasses comfortably.
Keep glasses on until the last minute
While I can go on rides without my glasses, standing in line or going long periods of time without my glasses is disorienting and my eyes start to hurt pretty quickly. For that reason, I keep my glasses on my face until we are about to get on the ride, and then I put them in the waterproof bag. If water park staff ask me to take off my glasses while we are in line, I show them the pouch and say that I’ll be taking them off before the ride, but need to keep them on for the time being, and they are usually fine with that response.
Check ride safety requirements before getting in line
Some rides may have specific health or safety requirements in place that may keep guests with certain eye conditions from being able to safely enjoy the ride. For example, one of the rides at the outdoor water park I went to cautions that riders that are sensitive to strobe or flashing lights should not go on this ride- the ride itself does not have flashing lights, but there are small slits in the top of the ride that can mimic a strobe effect when someone is moving quickly down the path. I recommend checking ride safety requirements online before going to the park.
Use a human guide instead of a cane or guide dog
While blindness canes can get wet from rain without any damage, taking a blindness cane on a water slide or into a swimming pool is not a very good idea. Many water parks also do not allow service animals to go near the water, meaning that a guide dog would have to be supervised by a non-rider. For this reason, a human guide is the best option for going to a water park with low vision. I have an entire post about how to be an effective human guide, but some of the most important points include:
- Announce potential obstacles such as a curb, open body of water, low hanging branches, or a pothole
- Use terms such as turn left/right, straight ahead, or clock faces (i.e 3 o’clock) instead of terms like right here, over there, etc
- Do not grab onto a person with vision loss without their consent unless they are in immediate danger (i.e falling into a pool)
- Allow a person to hold onto an arm over a hand, as it is easier to grip
- How Do People With Visual Impairments Use Human Guides?
- How Do People With Visual Impairments Guide Each Other?
- Understanding Service Dog Training With Technology
If relevant, wear protective clothing to protect against sunburn
Kids with low vision may struggle with putting on sunscreen easily as it can be difficult to see where sunscreen has been applied, or to use spray bottles. This does not mean that they are incapable of putting on sunscreen, but they may need to practice applying and re-applying sunscreen before going to the water park. One of the things that helps me prevent sunburn is to wear protective clothing such as a rashguard, long swim shorts, or a swim dress so that I don’t have to put sunscreen on hard-to-reach areas like my back.
Other tips for going to water parks with low vision
- Before going to the water park, check to see if they have made an accessibility guide available online
- Even when it is optional, I recommend wearing a life jacket for safety, since it can be disorienting for people to swim in an unfamiliar area without glasses
- When going to lazy river or wave pool type attractions, keep a human guide within arms reach